Will Phils Scramble To Replace Utley?

With one pitch, the Phillies focus on who they pursue at the trade deadline may have shifted dramatically. The Phillies may now need to find a new second baseman to take over for Chase Utley, who will require surgery on his hand and miss four weeks of action.

Even Chase Utley doesn't believe that rookie John Lannan was throwing at him. Whether he was or not, the end result is the same and the Phillies are going to be without Utley for the foreseeable future with a broken bone in his hand. A trip to a hand specialist Friday determined that Utley will be out for four weeks.

For now, the Phillies will insert Abraham Nunez into the lineup, but nobody expects his bat to be anywhere near the offense that Utley provided. It will also hurt the Phillies late in games because Nunez won't be available to come in defensively at third base as he often does.

So, what are the options for the Phillies on a potential trade?

Mark Loretta (Houston), Mark Grudzielanek (Kansas City) and Tadihito Iguchi (White Sox) are known to be available. The fact is though that none of those players or any others who are likely to become available, will provide anything near the offense that Chase Utley provides the Phillies.

There also isn't any minor league help. Joe Thurston has been the everyday second baseman for the Ottawa Lynx and is hitting .277 on the season. Danny Sandoval, who can also play second base is hitting .251 for the Lynx. Both Thurston and Sandoval can play a number of other positions and it's likely that one of them will get at least a temporary call to take over Nunez' utility role with the big league club. The Phillies could also stretch their search to AA Reading where they would find minor league veteran Joey Hammond (.315 in 213 at bats), Jesus Merchan (.328 in 265 at bats) and Peeter Ramos (.300 in 180 at bats). Merchan and Hammond had stints at AAA this season and both had success. Merchan hit .385 in just 13 at bats and Hammond hit .273 in 66 at bats.

With Utley out four weeks, the Phillies will need to decide whether they can battle through with a band-aid approach or need to find a more suitable replacement to take over in Utley's absence. Basically, it's just another item to put on the shopping list in the final days before the trading deadline.

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