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Posted: Thursday October 30, 2008 12:04PM; Updated: Friday October 31, 2008 5:20PM
John Donovan John Donovan >
INSIDE BASEBALL

The Series is over, so what's next for the Phillies and Rays?

Story Highlights

Pat Burrell and Jamie Moyer are two of the Phillies' key free agents

The Rays must decide when to move lefty phenom David Price into their rotation

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Pat Burrell
After nine years, Pat Burrell may have caught his last ball in left for the Phillies.
Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

To read John Donovan's list of questions for every major league team, click here.

No team makes it to the World Series with a bunch of holes on its roster. Both the Rays and the Phillies have had a lot of talent to work with this year, and the good news for both clubs is that most of it is coming back next season. Still, there is some housekeeping to do this winter.

Here's a look at some of the biggest offseason questions facing the two World Series teams:

The Phillies

What to do with Pat Burrell?

The left fielder is a free agent, and he'll be an interesting case study. Reports around town indicate that the Phillies want to re-sign Pat the Bat, and he'll no doubt entertain offers from the Phils, the team that picked him No. 1 in the June 1998 draft and the only pro teams he's ever known. But Burrell will listen to outside offers, too. And there will be offers.

The question with Burrell has never been his ability to produce, at least over the long haul. Though he can be streaky, and he had an awful last couple of months (.191 average and .365 slugging percentage since Aug. 1), he has had at least 29 home runs a .500 slugging percentage for each of the past four seasons. Suitors will be wary of his shaky defense -- Charlie Manuel often substitutes for him late in games -- and some around Philadelphia wonder whether the Phillies would be willing to put up with that in a longer-term deal.

If the Phillies lose him -- certainly possible, especially to an AL team that might be looking for a designated hitter -- they probably will look within the organization to find a replacement (Greg Golson or Geoff Jenkins, perhaps). Neither will provide Burrell's power.

How much for Jamie Moyer?

The seemingly ageless left-hander turns 46 next month, but it's a good bet that the Phillies will bring him back. He won 16 games in '08, after all, and though he was very shaky in postseason starts against the Brewers and Dodgers, his performance against the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series (6 1/3 innings, five hits, three runs) was admirable. As for his durability, only ace Cole Hamels put in more innings than Moyer did in '08.

Moyer made about $5 million in '08, including incentives. If the Phils could get him back for that in '09, or even give him a little bump, it would probably be well worth it.

Who's going to take Pat Gillick's job?

All of the big offseason decisions already have been talked about, so whoever it is that takes over for general manager Gillick won't be dropped into the Hot Stove cold turkey. Gillick's expected successor is longtime assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr.. If the Phillies are looking for continuity -- always a good thing when you have a winner on your hands -- Amaro would be the choice.

The Rays

Can they do it again?

That's the No. 1 question with a team that never before has gone as far as the World Series -- or, for that matter, as far as the postseason. Or even a winning record. And the answer, of course, is yes, they can get back to October baseball. But it's going to be as hard as it ever has been.

The young Rays next year will field virtually the same team that they did in '08, and it's reasonable to expect, because they're so young, that they will be even better. That doesn't translate necessarily to a better record, of course. They won 97 games in '08. That's hard to do. And they were 29-18 in one-run games. They can't expect to be that good every year.

But they have the talent, and a good plan to use it. That's their biggest asset. The Red Sox and Yankees and all the big-money teams in the other divisions -- the White Sox and Angels, to name two -- will come after them. But if most things fall right, they can be back next fall.

What are they going to do about right field?

That has been a sore point for the Rays, so sore that they have had to use Ben Zobrist, an infielder, there at times. They like Rocco Baldelli -- who doesn't? -- but he is a free agent, and even if the Rays re-sign him, his mitochondrial disease probably will prevent him from assuming a full-time role. Gabe Gross didn't hit lefties well and was a defensive liability. Eric Hinske probably isn't coming back, and Fernando Perez is a backup at best.

The best guess is that the Rays will use their deep reservoir of talent to trade for a young, able outfielder, maybe, according to one Rays' observer, dangling someone like live-armed pitcher Edwin Jackson in a trade. They could bring back Baldelli as a backup.

When do they move David Price into the rotation?

The dynamic rookie left-hander will be in Tampa's rotation by the second half of the year, certainly, but whether he begins the season there is anybody's guess. The Rays are a forward-thinking organization and well aware of the innings they put on their young arms. The last thing they want to do is over-burden Price.

That might mean starting him in the bullpen -- a spot that could need some solidifying, anyway, as most pens do early in the season -- or giving him some lighter work in the minors at the beginning of the year. Remember, Evan Longoria didn't start the season on the big club this year.

The less the Rays work Price early in the season the more valuable he becomes late in the season, and the better off he'll be in years to come.

 
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