Going into this uncertain season, Freddy Galvis was one of the Phillies' biggest question marks.
With a quarter of the regular season in the books, Galvis has raised some questions of his own with his performance.
Questions such as: If the Phillies had known they would get this kind of production from Galvis, would they have committed to that new contract for Jimmy Rollins?
And: Why didn't they expect Galvis to be ready for the big leagues? And what might that say about the way the Phillies evaluate their own minor-league prospects (ahem, Domonic Brown)?
And: With Chase Utley taking grounders and batting practice and apparently edging toward a return, don't the Phillies have to find a way to keep Galvis with the big club?
Galvis hit his third home run of the season Saturday night. With fans chanting "Freddy, Freddy," he cranked a two-run shot to left off Boston Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester.
In 41 games, Galvis has hit three home runs, 11 doubles, and a triple. He has driven in 19 runs. After going 2 for 3 Saturday, his batting average was .244 - but Galvis has hit closer to .260 since beginning his career with an 0-for-12 streak.
Compare those numbers to Utley's in his first major-league stint in 2003: In 43 games, he hit .239 with 10 doubles, two homers, and 21 RBIs.
Galvis is 22. Utley was 24 in 2003. At 25, he hit .265 with 13 homers. A year later, finally the full-time second baseman, Utley hit .291 with 28 home runs.
The point isn't that Galvis is a lock to be a better hitter than Utley became, or even as good. It seems especially unlikely that he'll ever have that kind of power, although he could certainly add to his lean frame.
The point is that he is succeeding against major-league pitching, he's a terrific defensive player, and there are five or six players you'd lop off this roster right now before Galvis. If the idea is to have the best 25-man roster possible, Galvis stays.
One reason Utley didn't break out until 2005 was some ludicrous idea the Phillies had that they owed David Bell their everyday third-base job. With Bell at third, they kept Placido Polanco at second, blocking Utley. He actually played 13 games at first base just to get some at-bats in 2004.
So maybe that's an idea. If playing in the field is harder on Utley's knees than hitting, maybe he could play some first base when he gets back. That keeps Galvis in the lineup at least until Ryan Howard's return.
And then? Utley will need days off. Rollins can use some days off.
Would you rather have Galvis or Pete Orr or Mike Fontenot filling in and being available as a defensive replacement?
One argument is that Galvis would be better off playing every day in triple A. But if the trio of Orr (104), Wilson Valdez (300), and Michael Martinez (234) could get a combined 638 plate appearances last year, there is enough work to keep Galvis sharp.
It's a long shot, but worth suggesting: If Galvis keeps developing, maybe Utley could even play left field. The Phillies won a World Series with the significantly less mobile Pat Burrell out there. There is running involved in the outfield, but not the same quick-twitch, stop-start action that is so hard on the knees.
Just a thought.
Of course, we wouldn't even know about Galvis if it weren't for Utley's knee problems. With the kid shortstop rising through their farm system, the Phillies still decided to re-up with Rollins. I'm not going to knock that, because I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. Rollins' value to this franchise exceeds what he does on the field. If you think the Eagles were wrong to let Brian Dawkins walk, how can you criticize the Phillies for keeping their heart-and-soul guy?
And watching Rollins throw a runner out at the plate - from his knees - was a reminder of the man's value to the Phillies.
But one factor in the Phillies' thinking was their belief that Galvis was the classic all-glove, no-bat guy. Considering this franchise held Utley back for Bell and kept telling us Howard's minor-league power wouldn't translate against big-league pitching, there is a bit of a troubling trend here (ahem, Domonic Brown).
Sometimes you have to trust the kids and have a little patience as they develop. That has been harder in recent years, with the pressure to maintain a championship-caliber club, than it was when Utley and Howard were the kids.
Of all the numbers, the most telling is the 22. Galvis was ticketed for Lehigh Valley going into spring training before being forced to replace Utley. All he has done since then is erase that question mark and play like a major-leaguer.