Chase Utley, free-falling Phillie

A good friend gave me the advice several years ago, and it's held up well. Never research any physical ailment on the Internet (especially in the middle of the night), it will just drive you crazy.

Perhaps this rule should apply to fantasy player ownership as well.

Chase Utley(notes) is cascading down the Yahoo! staff rankings at breakneck speed (think David Caruso 1994), and if I had a draft tonight I'd be terrified to take the Philly infielder. There's plenty of whisper and speculation concerning Utley's knee injury, most of it ominous.

Let's recap what we learned about Utley's murky situation from the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier in the week.

Team physician Michael Ciccotti detailed the chronology of the problem and described Utley's condition as "mild patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia." Ciccotti said an MRI exam also revealed bone bruising in the knee. Neither Utley nor team officials would say whom they will turn to next as they try to figure out how to alleviate the second baseman's pain.

"All of this is troubling," GM Ruben Amaro said. "We wanted the guy to be on the field. For us, this is a long-term thing. Frankly, I don't care if he's making opening day or not making opening day. For us, this is about him being able to play long term, meaning through this year, through next year, and through the following year.

"This is something we want to make sure that he's 100 percent when he gets on the field so we don't have any missteps beyond this. That's really the goal here, and that's why we've been holding back so much."

Amaro would not rule out that Utley will be ready for opening day, but he did reject the idea that his second baseman could be sidelined for the entire season.

"Oh, I don't think that's an option, no," Amaro said. "I couldn't even begin to answer that, but that's not something we're talking about. We think he's going to be healthy enough sooner rather than later."

Uncertainty does not help the fantasy owner sleep at night. For another spin on Utley, look to the best Phillies beat writer in the business, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly. Here's a recent Tweet from Salisbury:

No progress on Utley... Phils say they will consider "additional options" to find out what's going on with his knee. This = bad news

The Phillies have to consider options if Utley is out long term. They could ham and egg it with their current reserve middle infielders (no one that appears mixed-league worthy), or perhaps trade for someone. Third baseman Placido Polanco(notes) could shift over to second if needed, too. You'll be hearing Michael Young(notes) rumors (if not suggestions) from various media outlets.

My ranking reaction was to drop Utley to the No. 7 slot on the updated second base board (and maybe Kelly Johnson(notes) should have leapfrogged him), and to No. 69 overall. And maybe that's not far enough.

Let's band together during this difficult time, Utley Nation. Where does he slot on your cheat sheet today? Is this a time to buy at a discount, or are you avoiding Utley at all costs? Is there any name-brand second baseman after Robinson Cano(notes) that you're buying with confidence this spring? As Andy Behrens discussed recently, second base is a position full of land mines in 2011.


Sliding Utley image courtesy Associated Press

What to Read Next