Chase Utley was going to be traded this season. We could all feel it. Chase could probably feel it. And that morning I woke up from a nightmare about various Philadelphia landmarks crumbling and falling onto a horrified public, I knew the day had likely arrived.
Indeed it had, and Utley went to L.A. where he eventually got himself a reputation as a heartless bone-breaker, rather than the bone-filled heart-breaker he was known to be in these parts. What many people failed to realize at the time was that Utley had gone to the Dodgers in a trade, and that we would be getting a player in return for him. That player was Darnell Sweeney (along with pitcher John Richy).
Sweeney's resume was a little loopy: fast, but struggles with base stealing; powerful, but struggles with contact; solid fielder, but not at shortstop. Every once in a while, he'd forget where the strike zone was. As a .260-.270 hitter, he pretty much came crossed the threshold into the majors and maintained any aspect of the scouting reports that preceded him.
I'm an easy sell. Young? Fast? New? Hey, this guy's all right. At least, he will be until everyone yells at me about how wrong I am and then head on over to a stats sheet and find out the truth - that Sweeney hit .176 for the Phillies in 98 PA, that he his OBP only got as high as .286, and that - people couldn't stress this enough - he wasn't Chase Utley at all, having gained a reputation as a frequent "K" at the plate while a Dodgers prospect.
But hey, in the last week of the season the 24-year-old IF/OF went 5-for-14 with two doubles and an RBI. He seemed to get on base more when playing against left-handed starters. Jay Polinsky puts him at No. 2 on the organization's depth chart for second base. And look at him cut down Yoenis Cespedes at third to keep the Phillies four-run deficit in a meaningless game intact:
Runners beware: You may be only a strong throw and a rolling infielder away from getting nailed at third next season, leading to all kinds of new, inexplicable noises coming from Ben Davis.
--Ben Davis' "excited" noise
Since he only played in 37 games at the end of the year, Sweeney only got to play so many opponents, but in reviewing his highlights - there are more than a few, despite his short sample size - it's fun to see so many of them vs. the Mets. He even did his best Utley impression of the year in homering off Matt Harvey.
Sweeney may wind up useful for the Phillies, as he filled roles at second and third base as well as all three outfield positions. Given the amount of injuries in a long season, the Phillies' desire to give young players every chance they can, and the persistent need for depth, he may wind up all over the place.
Prior to his Phillies career, the Dodgers would have probably protected him being swiped in the Rule 5 draft, and one of his largest obstacles to making their big club was the volume of players in front of him. Watching him put all of his speedy, young efforts into earning a roster spot on a club of competitive players of similar age trying to do the same could be really fun over a full season. Or maybe just until, like, May.