As this team continues to tread water, it apears that the old guard might be ushered out. There has been talk that Abreu might be open to a trade and Burrell may feel the same way. Since the Phillies are a team of 4 players and 4 others, this really would put a strain on our offense. The question remains to whether Utley and Howard can handle the offensive load if they are supplied with a good supporting cast. Both have their flaws that make me worry about their future.
We all know both can hit. Howard has 25 homers and Utley is on pace to match last year's 28. Neither player is really that young anymore. Utley is 27 and Howard is 26. Pat Burrell is just 29 years old and he is already in his 7th season. Howard and Utley are both entering their prime and this may be the best we'll see of them. They are good enough to maintain this level, but it might be a strecth to expect more.
What worries me about this is their patience. Chase has walked 27 times in 316 plate appearances and Howard has walked 28 times in 291 plate appearances. Both have less than 1 walk per 10 plate appearances, and that isn't anything special. Neither hitter is hitting above .300 and thus, both have OBPs in the .360s. Those are decent OBPs for good players, but not what you need from the best players on your team.
Both Chase and Howard have to learn to take pitches that they cannot hit. I am surprised that they haven't paid more attention to Bobby Abreu who is the top OBP man in the league. The Phillies have a bright future with these guys, but only if they get a better understanding of the strikezone and knowing when to just take your base. Pitchers know that you will swing at balls out of the zone and they'll start to see less and less pitches to hit. If Bobby is going to be gone this year or next year, I hope he leaves a lasting impression on them.