MINNEAPOLIS -- Chase Utley on Monday reiterated that he’s planning to stay with the Phillies for a long time.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not in favor of the team making some changes.
When asked if he believed the team was in need of some new blood, Utley gave an interesting answer.
“I think energy is important,” he said. “Energy on the baseball field creates excitement, it creates confidence. It gets the fans into it and that creates adrenaline. Any time you can add energy to the field, it’s a good thing.”
That led to a natural follow-up:
Is there enough energy on this Phillies team right now?
“I think there could be more,” Utley said. “Definitely.”
That’s about as close as the guarded second baseman will come to being critical of teammates.
Energy goes hand in hand with winning. The Phils had plenty of energy during their recent four-game sweep in Milwaukee. They had plenty last month during their five-game winning streak in Atlanta and St. Louis, the one that pulled them within 3½ games of the lead in the NL East.
But the energy level crashed when they lost 13 of their next 16 to fall 12 games back in the race.
In short, winning -- good.
Losing -- bad.
At 42-53, the Phils have done a lot of losing this year. That’s why their energy level is poor. Losing sucks the life out of a team. Of course, good players equal more wins. So it’s all intertwined.
The bottom line is management is looking to re-tool this club. Several players could be gone in the next two weeks as the trade deadline approaches. Jonathan Papelbon has already indicated that he’s eager to move. Marlon Byrd, though not eager to move, has acknowledged that baseball is a business and he realizes he could be on the move. Ditto for A.J. Burnett. Cliff Lee, coming off the disabled list next week, will have just two starts before the trade deadline. If that’s enough time for a rival team to evaluate his health and decide to take on the $37.5 million he’s owed after this season, then he could be on the move, too.
Are all these potential changes a clubhouse distraction?
“I guess there’s a possibility of it being a distraction,” Utley said. “Having older guys, knowing that this is what happens on teams that aren't playing up to their potential, they can tune it out and put it behind them and just focus on the game. In that aspect, I think we'll be all right. If we had a younger team, it could affect us more.”
Utley sincerely believes this team is better than its record and last-place standing in the NL East.
“I think we’re better than our standings dictate. I truly do," he said. "Offensively, we haven’t clicked. We’ve had some good streaks, but too many bad streaks. Pitching-wise, I think for the most part we’ve done a pretty good job. Our bullpen has really come around. Guys are getting established and getting that confidence which is important. So it’s all about trying to put all those together and hopefully we can do that soon.
“We’ve put some hot streaks together but we’ve tended to follow them up with some cold streaks. The goal is to try to maintain those hot streaks as long as you can and just try to improve.
“There are plenty of games to make up that ground. But we have to play better baseball. There is no doubt about that.”