Last year, the Red Sox celebrated their championship by re-signing World Series MVP Mike Lowell and bringing back several other role players. Their only major addition from outside the organization was bench bat Sean Casey. Needless to say, that kind of stability in the era of free agency has become increasingly rare, and the Phillies won't be an exception.
Of course, the Phillies aren't exactly the 1997 Marlins either. They have a strong young core intact. Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge are all under contract or the club's control for the near future. That five-player spine should be enough to make Philadelphia one of the favorites in the National League next season.
But the status of some of the second-tier players who were integral in the championship run is up in the air heading into the winter. Pat Burrell is at the top of that list. The left fielder is a woeful defender and will never hit for average, but his patience and power will be sorely missed if he signs somewhere else.
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Jamie Moyer is also a free agent. He could pitch until he's 50. He could walk off into the sunset. Either way, he made 33 starts for the Phillies during the regular season and three more in the postseason. That too will not be easy to replace.
As often happens with championship-winning clubs, many of the players who will return next year are also going to get more expensive. Utley, Lidge and Brett Myers are due significant raises in 2009 and at minimum the club will probably want to explore long-term deals for the likes of Hamels and Howard, if not for players like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.
Perhaps most significantly, the person making all these decisions about who to sign, who to extend and who to let go will likely be different. GM Pat Gillick's contract expires this year and he's expected to retire, handing the reins over to his assistant Ruben Amaro Jr.
The Phillies are not a big-market club, nor are they a small-market one like the team they just defeated in the World Series. That means they're going to be able to hold on to some of their stars, but probably not all of them. Putting that puzzle together and giving Charlie Manuel and Co. a chance to repeat in 2009 will be no small task, especially for a rookie executive.