The Boston Red Sox are champions of the world, the St. Louis Cardinals hold the National League pennant and then there's everyone else. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies rank among the groups that are awaiting entrance into the diamond club.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. doesn't know if his off-season efforts will push his team closer to contention, or if another non-playoff year could spell his demise. As this general manager heads into his sixth season he knows that his immediate charge is great and that more than a few roster rivets must be secured.
Ben Cherington was able to quickly rebuild a last place (2012) Red Sox team. So, his post-World Series work will be much easier than Amaro's job.
A combination of trades, free agent acquisitions, the ongoing development of prospects and the steady health of a number of veterans must coalesce in order to enable Ryne Sandberg's squad to grow through the 2014 season. Realistically, just reaching the .500 line next year, after finishing 73-89 in 2013, would constitute progress.
Among the regular positions: Catcher and at least one outfield spot must be solidified before spring training starts.
Whoever replaces Rich Dubee must find pitchers who can combine to make approximately 90 starts after Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have taken their turns on the mound.
Beyond Jonathan Papelbon and the possible return of Mike Adams, the bullpen must be bolstered by at least one veteran arm.
Positional flexibility and the ability to make contact at the plate represent two talents that most bench men will need to possess.
Amaro's lengthy list must be addressed. As to how many off-seasons will be needed to do so remains the main red-pinstriped question.