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Andy Behrens

Disaster: Chase Utley has surgery, out 'at least eight weeks'

Andy Behrens
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Yup, this one's gonna leave a mark:

Chase Utley(notes) had surgery to repair a severely torn ligament in his right thumb Thursday. He will miss at least eight weeks, Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said. Utley's thumb will be put in a splint for five weeks.

The injury proved to be worse than a sprain — part of the ligament was pulled off the bone.

This seems like a good time to remind you that Utley wasn't actually delivering stats at the rate you'd expected, so it's not as if he was carrying your fantasy team. His batting average is .277 and he's on-pace for 24 homers, 11 steals, 81 RBIs and 108 runs scored. Those are exceptional numbers for any other second baseman, but Utley is in a tier of his own.

In recent rumors, the Phillies have been linked to solid-if-unspectacular placeholders like Ty Wigginton(notes), Jose Lopez(notes), Jhonny Peralta(notes) and Miguel Tejada(notes). 'Duk offered up the possibility of a Philly-Arizona deal with Dan Haren(notes) and Kelly Johnson(notes) on one side, and outfield prospect Domonic Brown(notes) on the other.

(For the record, that's just 'Duk speculating. It's not an officially sanctioned rumor. Brown has been absolutely killing it in Triple-A since his promotion. Very hard to imagine him being dealt. He's hitting .331/.401/.619 across two levels this year with 17 homers and 13 steals).

There's a fair chance that an interleague swap will go down, so AL/NL-only managers may need to take evasive action, depending on their circumstances. If you're atop the standings in a head-to-head league, this is of course a great time to make a lowball offer on Utley. He should return by September, when head-to-head titles are won.

If instead you're an Utley owner (regardless of format), it's important to identify the categories where you can least afford to lose ground, then attempt to replace just those stats via trade or free agent add. You may not be able to replace Utley's total expected contribution, but you can at least limit the damage.

Here's a snapshot of the best widely available second basemen, with their numbers over the past month:

Sean Rodriguez(notes) (18 percent owned) - 13 R, 4 HR, 17 RBIs, 6 SB, .295 AVG
Carlos Guillen(notes) (13 percent) - 10 R, 3 HR, 12 RBIs, 0 SB, .293 AVG
Mike Aviles(notes) (17 percent) - 12 R, 0 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 SB, .333 AVG
Freddy Sanchez(notes) (20 percent) - 12 R, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 0 SB, .280 AVG
Neil Walker(notes) (six percent, concussed) - 15 R, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 SB, .286 AVG
Mark Ellis(notes) (three percent) - 9 R, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 SB, .277 AVG
Jason Donald(notes) (one percent) - 9 R, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 0 SB, .257 AVG

No, it's not the most exciting list we've ever run, but there are a few acceptable short-term pickups there. Kinda/sorta. In the league where I could least afford to lose Utley, I'm negotiating an Aviles trade right now. Donald is Plan B. You don't even want to hear about Plan C.

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Photo via US Presswire

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