The remarkable thing about baseball in the 21st century is that there really is no break in the action any longer. On the first day after the World Series ended, we had one trade, one near-trade, and the news that one of the top potential free agents,
Both of these teams will return the core of their pennant-winning teams. The Yankees have eight of their top ten position players plus their top two starting pitchers and their closer under contract for next season. They also have control over their entire postseason bullpen, and in fact, one of their biggest offseason challenges will be making decisions on
After a World Series in which both played well, Series MVP
Despite the attention garnered for their high-dollar investments last winter, a more fundamental change in the Yankees' approach is seen at the lower end of the roster. The organization has been more willing to fill back-end spots with homegrown or low-cost talent rather than with expensive acquisitions. This trend not only leads to better depth, but more money available for the high-value players at the top of the roster. The Yankees should continue to let the young relievers, or players such as
The most difficult thing to do is not to do anything, but the Yankees should use the goodwill from their World Series crown as an opportunity to stay out of a weak market for free agents, keeping their powder dry so that they can use it to blast away next winter.
The Phillies don't need to be sold on the value of homegrown talent, as their second straight pennant winner is loaded with it. Like the Yankees, the Phillies will return most of their main contributors from 2009 -- only
Where the Phillies don't have that kind of high-caliber investment is at closer, where
The other big issue for the Phillies is Jimmy Rollins. Always miscast as a leadoff hitter, Rollins limited the offense this season by posting a career-worst .296 OBP. As was evident throughout the postseason, the Phillies need a leadoff man who gets on base, because their next four hitters are fantastic at moving runners around the bases with hits and power. When Rollins reached base, the Phillies were successful, but it didn't happen enough. The Phillies cannot go another full season with a subpar OBP in the leadoff spot, and if Rollins doesn't bounce back, they'll have to move him down in the order permanently. With Rollins potentially a free agent after 2010, this is a situation that both player and team will have to handle carefully.
The Phillies, having established themselves as one of the better teams in baseball, now look to take the step the Braves did in the 1990s, integrating young talent into an already great team to become a dynasty while managing payroll. With Drabek and
While neither of these teams is young, each has a championship-caliber core and enough players at and around their peaks that projecting much of a falloff is silly. Each will enter 2010 as the favorite in its division, even its league; a repeat World Series, the first since 1978, is entirely possible.