Hey CD... On Millwood, Duckworth, Bell & Utley

<i>Hey! CD</i> is a weekly Q&A column by California Dreamin, a Phillie die-hard from SoCal. Known as CD to baseball friends, he is a favorite source of information by Phillie fans, curious about his unique perspective on various Phillie baseball issues & events. Send your comments or questions to CD at <a href=mailto:connectthedots@earthlink.net>connectthedots@earthilink.net</a> and read his response to you in a future edition of this column.

Q: On Millwood, Duckworth and Bell from Alan Stager, Tampa, Florida

Hey! CD, three quick questions for you! Is Millwood worth keeping? What role do you see for Duckworth next season? What is your take on David Bell?

CD says...
Thanks, Alan, for three very interesting questions.

In fact, how the Phillies answer these questions will have a lot to do with the shape of their off-season plans. Though I obviously have no inside information about these three players, here are my thoughts on them.

Perhaps, no move will be more closely watched than the Millwood negotiations this off-season. If Millwood should decide that his long-term interests are best served by re-signing with the Phils, then GM Ed Wade will have the number one hurler that he obviously needs to round out a rotation that probably will include Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla and Ryan Madson.

However, as I have stated since the day Millwood first arrived in Philadelphia last December, I do not think he will re-sign with the Phils, but will return to Atlanta and pitch for the Braves. His agent, Scott Boras, has a history of acrimonious negotiations with the Phils, stemming from the JD Drew days. His relations with the Braves have always been much better and I just feel that Millwood will have "Georgia on My Mind" and replace Greg Maddux in the Braves rotation.

I still maintain that as Millwood heads south, Curt Schilling will head east, and be our opening day hurler at Citizens Bank Park. Look for both of these events to take place before the end of the year.

As for Brandon Duckworth, I would not be surprised if he becomes part of the Schilling trade. Duckworth has a big league arm, but seems stifled in Philadelphia for a variety of reasons. He appears to be intimidated by Larry Bowa's often demanding style and both parties may decide a change of scenery is best for all involved. If Duckworth does resurface in Philly next year, look for him to compete with Madson and Amaury Telemaco for the final spot in the rotation.

As for David Bell, I stand by my assertion that he is suffering from a career-threatening back injury and will eventually be forced to retire, ala Lenny Dykstra. I believe that the Phils will be very patient with Bell, and he will try to play in spring training next February. However, I think when the dust settles, Bell will retire and be offered a position in the Phils organization.

The Phils will let you know about Bell by how they handle Chase Utley this off-season. Utley will be in demand on the trade front and if the Phils resist all efforts to trade him, it probably means they are hedging their bets that Polanco will be at third and Utley at second base due to Bell's bad back.

Stay tuned.

Q: On Chase Utley's future, from David in Philadelphia, PA

Hey! CD, what position do you foresee Utley playing next season?

CD says...
First, David, let me say that I am a big Chase Utley fan and believe he will be a very solid player in the major leagues. He is a combination of Adam Kennedy and Todd Walker. As for his position next season, I think the Phils will keep him at second base. It is the position he is most comfortable with, and I think that Placido Polanco will play third base with Utley at second base.

I believe the Phils will receive many attractive offers for Utley but I suspect the Phils will resist these efforts and keep him for two reasons. One, as I stated, because I think Bell will be unable to play next year and the Phils can ill afford to let Utley get away. The second reason is because GM Ed Wade has always been very reluctant to part with top prospects and Utley would definitely qualify as one of the Phil's top five prospects.

As for the talk about moving Utley to the outfield, that's all it is, just talk. The Phils are well stocked in the outfield with Burrell, Byrd, Abreu, Michaels and Ledee. Besides, there are not many second baseman who have made an effective transition to the outfield. second baseman normally make their first move forward, towards a ball, while outfielders traditionally make their first move back, away from the ball. This was the reason that former Phillie, Juan Samuel had so much trouble attempting this transition.

It says here that Utley is in our lineup next April…at second base!

Q: On CTD and Hey! CD columns, from Chuck Hyde, King of Prussia, PA

Hey! CD, will we continue to read your columns during the off-season?

CD says…
Chuck…I hope so!! For the true baseball fan, there is NO off-season, merely a period of months where there are no games being played. In fact, I would hope to write some of my most intriguing columns over the Winter months as I begin to speculate on trades, free-agent singings, and other possible moves that both involve and affect the Phils.

There is nothing better than the Winter Hot Stove League, and count on old CD to discuss the Arizona Fall League, Winter league news, and the Winter meetings in December. In fact, I hope to get to Arizona in October and report first hand on the Phils prospects playing in the AFL. The players include third baseman Travis Chapman, and pitchers Greg Kubes, Dan Giese, Josh Hancock, Keith Bucktrot and Bobby Korecky.

Actually, the Phils are entering one of their more important of-seasons in recent memory as they prepare to christen their new park in 2004 and expect PhillyBaseballNews.com to give you all the Phillies off-season news in complete and concise fashion!

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