Built to last (cont.)
Posted: Monday October 29, 2007 2:10PM; Updated: Monday October 29, 2007 4:46PM
"I mean it when I say there's not one bad guy in this clubhouse," Lester said on Sunday night, grasping the World Series trophy in the celebratory clubhouse. "Hopefully, we'll be doing this a lot more."
What will make the Sox especially dangerous in the ears ahead is that they will continue to be a player in the free-agent market, too, filling in from there what they can't get through player development or trades. Last season they out-bid the Yankees for Matsuzaka and discovered a hidden gem in Hideki Okajima. The Sox had the second-highest payroll in baseball in 2007 -- it was about $143 million, $50 million or so behind the Yankees -- and figure to be no lower than second again in 2008.
With money to burn and baseball smarts to use it well, it's difficult to find fault with the way the Sox are going about the business of winning baseball. In the years ahead, it's not going to get any easier, either.
Few changes for Rockies
As badly as things went for Boston's opponent in the World Series, don't be surprised if the Rockies are battling for the National League title again in 2008. After years of trying and failing to find players on the free-agent market -- sometimes with disastrous results -- the Rockies will continue to grow in '08 and beyond.
Five of the Rockies' everyday players -- first baseman Todd Helton, shortstop Tulowitzki, third baseman Garrett Atkins and outfielders Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe -- were drafted and developed by the organization. All will be around for years to come. Their rotation is largely set, too, at least for the immediate future, with ace Jeff Francis, young fastballer Ubaldo Jimenez and lefty Franklin Morales. The team is expected to exercise its 2008 option on the old man of the group, 28-year-old Aaron Cook, who pitched well but took the loss in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night.
"This is a group of guys that came up together," said Cook. "We've still got a lot of baseball ahead of us."
Like the Sox and every other team in baseball, the Rockies have decisions to make this winter. Locking in Cook, for one. Deciding whether to get in on the free-agent bidding for one of their starters, Josh Fogg, is another. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba is a free agent, as is reliever Matt Herges. Colorado has several players that are arbitration eligible.
There will be some changes. But the Rockies seem ready to try to keep their nucleus together rather than going outside of the organization to spend money on free agents. The Rockies ranked 25th in payroll last season, at a little more than $54 million. That'll probably increase, given all the arbitration cases and raises due guys such as Holliday, who could be the NL MVP.
However the winter shakes out, the wild-card Rockies showed in 2007 that their days of spending wildly and losing are over. They're heading the other way now.
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