I love Chase Utley. I just want you to know that. I'm not a Phillies fan by any stretch; I'm here to give you my unbiased, "outsider's" opinion on what the Phillies should do with Utley, so it only seems fair to let you know right out of the gate that he's probably been my favorite player (non-Joe-Mauer division) for most of the last eight seasons -- not quite on the Mac's love letter level, but I'm a big fan.

I want to get that out of the way, because I have the feeling I'm about to say some things about Utley that do not sound like nice things. They come from a well-meaning place. I love Chase Utley. I just want to make that perfectly clear.

Now: easily the best player of what has arguably been the Phillies' best decade and one of the three or four best position players in the team's history, Utley has one year remaining on the seven-year, $85 million deal he signed back in January of 2007. Should the Phillies be looking to extend him now? And if so, how much and for how long?

I looked at essentially the same question last week over on the SB Nation Yankees site, The Pinstriped Bible, regarding Robinson Cano, also due for a new contract after 2013. Cano will turn 30 next year. I found that players who could have been considered great second basemen through age-29, like Cano, tended to continue to perform very well in their age 30-32 seasons, but fall off very quickly thereafter.