No, I haven't thrown in the towel yet, but I've gone into my wind-up.
Anyway, here are what I see as the main questions that team management will be faced with this offseason. Let me know if I forgot anything.
1. Do you re-sign Rowand?
I wouldn't. I think there's a good chance he's just having a contract year this year. Even if that isn't the case, I can't see him improving on this season - yet he's going to command a salary based on this season's performance. The goal is to buy low, sell high, not the other way around, and however much money Rowand's going to command on the market can be better used elsewhere. See #5 below for more.
2. Do you extend Howard?
3. What do you do about Burrell?
I would extend him if you can get him at a reasonable price (i.e. a price lower than what he's making this year). He's actually earning his pay this year, or coming close at least. I don't think we can count on that going forward. Still, I think there's a good chance he'll sign for a reasonable price. He likes Philadelphia (who knows why, considering how he's been treated here), and he might give us a hometown discount.
4. What do you do with Myers?
I'd prefer to move him back to the rotation. But our final decision on this can be deferred until the beginning of spring training.
5. Do we re-sign anyone else?
I'd go after Werth. If Rowand leaves, Victorino + Bourn + part-time Dobbs isn't enough for CF and RF. But Victorino + Bourn + Werth + part-time Dobbs might not be so bad. Preferably, we'd re-sign Werth and pick up another decent part-timer in case Werth gets hurt again. Someone in the David Dellucci mold. Possibly Geoff Jenkins, who's a free agent (although someone out there might give Jenkins starter money).
6. Any trade possibilities?
I don't see a lot of options here. We don't really have any areas of strength to deal from. ("Lineup" is not an area of strength for trading purposes, unless you have two good hitters who play the same position. Weakening your lineup to help your pitching staff is just robbing Peter to pay Paul. We do not have more than one good player at any one position.) I'm not comfortable trading prospects right now. Our minor league system is on the rebound to some degree, but I don't think it's strong enough to raid.
7. What's our rotation going to look like next year? What free agents should we pursue?
Sadly, I think the rotation's going to be lousy again. Hamels is a stud, but he has an injury history, and you can never really count on young pitchers to stay healthy even if they don't have injury histories. Kendrick might be a flash in the pan. And those are our two strengths.
I think if we had two studs in the rotation, everything else would work itself out. We could play mix-and-match with the last three slots, and we'd be able to hold our own with our lineup. Heck, even Adam Eaton has been able to win half his starts this year, and he's the worst pitcher in the whole league. (And while acquiring Eaton was a mistake from the get-go, he's not this bad - he's just not. I've got to imagine there'll be some regression to the mean next year.) If we could count on a .750 winning percentage in 40% of the games, that would put us right on course for the postseason.
But there are no studs out there. Bartolo Colon? Curt Schilling? Jeff Weaver? Roger Clemens? Bleah.
This is why I think it would be best to move Myers back to the rotation. Myers is at least a potential stud, and we might be able to pick up a replacement closer. Francisco Cordero and Eric Gagne are flawed closers, but they'd be more acceptable as closers than Jeff Weaver would be a starter. Carlos Silva might be a decent pickup as a starter given his age and groundball ratio, but he's no stud.
So that's it. Any thoughts?