Chase Utley's slugging percentage has been in decline since 2007 and reached a career-low .445 in 2010.
Utley was part of the weird, no, catastrophic phenomenon where almost the entire team underperformed against right-handed pitching. In .345 plate appearances, he slugged a mere .381 against righties, compared to .581 against southpaws. It was this team-wide lack of production against righties that caused much of the day-to-day inconsistency. As a team, they were often slow to get off the blocks against many a righty mediocrity, and on the rare day when they jumped on a starter early, chances are they were facing a lanky, hard-throwing lefty, it seemed. (I'd verify that, but I'm without wi-fi on the train.). Realizing that a torn tendon in his thumb can be blamed for some of the overall total, I can't get past May and June; in June, he homered just once and slugged .368. We've come to expect Utley to slowly fade over long stretches, but never this early in a season.
I think the spring is still very much in his step on the bases and in the field; generally, too much is made of his higher-profile defensive miscues. But the Utley I know used to make life hell for Davey Lopes the way he'd scald foul balls down the first-base line with that quick swing, biding time to plant one in the seats. One worries about the condition of his hip and all the other added punishment, leading the lead in being hit by a pitch for three-straight seasons and getting hit 18 times in a shortened 2010.
A month or so ago, we talked about how Utley was slowly losing his luster. More appropriately, he's like a Jaguar that's getting dinging and dented because he's being abused like a Manhattan cab.
Notes: CSN New England cited a source saying that the Phillies are interested in free agent catcher Jason Varitek, but I'm not sure I buy that. Meanwhile, ESPN's Jayson Stark raised the possibility of Jeff Francouer patrolling right field for the Phillies next season ... Tom Durso and Tom Goyne, great guys I've known for several years and started blogging about the Phils around the same time I started Berks Phillies Fans (which would eventually become Beerleaguer) have joined forces on a new dialogue going on at Phourscore.com.