One of my pals, a lifetime Philadelphia resident and Phillies fan, asked me the day before the team clinched their World Series victory how one is to behave when their team wins a championship. More specifically, he asked "HOW DO YOU LIVE LIKE THIS, NON-PHILLIES FAN?" Having experienced my first celebration as a Yankee fan 400 miles away from home among a bunch of non-Yankee fans, back in '96 in the sunny state of Virginia, I told him to act like as big of a jackass as possible. Why? Because you never know when this is going to happen again. Of course, my favorite team won three more times in the next four years, so I became the sort of spoiled baseball fan you all hate. But can this happen to the Phillies and their once-long-suffering fans?
In a word: maybe. Let's make a list of the Phillies up for free agency from the World Series roster: Pat Burrell, Jamie Moyer, So Taguchi, and Scott Eyre. Throw in Tom Gordon, who would have been Brad Lidge's set-up man had he not broken his body for the 12th time in the past 12 seasons, and you've got a group of players the team can afford to lose...save one. With Moyer most likely coming back, the team has to only figure out a way to replace a power-hitting Burrell in left field.
Ideally, the Phillies should try to find a right-handed outfielder to replace Burrell in left field. He should be one that doesn't cost too much money since new G.M. Ruben Amaro will be reluctant to increase the team's $100 million payroll significantly more than is necessary. (The Phillies have ten players up for arbitration, which will necessarily increase payroll somewhat). Besides the price-prohibitive Manny Ramirez, there are few free agent right-handed-hitting outfielders in the market this offseason.
Mike Cameron? Willie Bloomquist? Rocco Baldelli? It's a veritable Murderer's Row of Mediocrity. (Update: Cameron's out)
What about the current bench players? Although they've got Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, and Geoff Jenkins on the roster, none of these fellas can match Burrell's output of 124 homers and a .500 slugging average over the past four seasons. Also, they all hit left-handed, and would never match Burrell's career .950 OPS against southpaw pitching.
So the Phillies' chances of repeating may rest on the career path chosen by someone their fans have reluctantly loved to hate since he was drafted #1 overall ten years ago out of college. Pat Burrell is the key: either re-sign him, or find someone who can replicate his hitting prowess and wingman abilities. Then, perhaps Phillies fans can experience the thrill of acting like jackasses for two consecutive Octobers.