Phillies' margin for error just got a lot thinner

It's Black Tuesday in Philadelphia:

    The Philadelphia Phillies placed second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco on the disabled list Tuesday.

    Utley has a sprained thumb and Polanco has been bothered by an elbow injury.


    Polanco missed the last three games with an inflamed left elbow, aggravated last Friday while diving. Polanco is third in the NL with a .318 batting average. He also leads NL third basemen in fielding percentage.

    Both Phillies were candidates for starting spots in the upcoming All-Star Game in Anaheim. Polanco, second in the National League in batting to Atlanta's Martin Prado with a .318 average, held a slight lead over the Mets' David Wright in the most recent balloting at third base.

    Utley, who's hitting .277 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs, is the leading vote-getter at second base in the National League. He's been the NL's starting second baseman every year since 2006.

The Phillies just lost two of their three best players. You might not guess that, since Utley's not having a great season with the bat and Polanco's driven home just 21 runs since magical Opening Day. But Utley's been up to his usual brilliant tricks at second base and Polanco's a plus at third base, too.

So who's going to play third base?

Greg Dobbs? Wilson Valdez? Juan Castro, who's 38? Brian Bocock, a shortstop who's got a .173/.245/.215 career line in Triple-A?

Well, as the roster stands now those are the Phillies' only options at third base ... and second base, too. For replacements, it's going to be replacement-level players.

If this is a two-weeks thing, the Phillies will survive to fight in August and perhaps September. But if Utley and Polanco aren't playing (and playing well) shortly after the All-Star break the Phillies are cooked. They'll have too much ground to make up and two good teams ahead of them.