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Phillies and Dodgers: The Stove Is Already Warming Up for Next Year's Race

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Phillies and Dodgers: The Stove Is Already Warming Up for Next Year's Race
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While literally millions of New Yorkers (including myself) were busy celebrating the 27th New York Yankee World Championship up and down downtown New York's Canyon of Heroes, the rest of Major League Baseball began offseason business as usual.

The National League Champion Phillies moved quickly in picking up the 2010 club-option on their lefty ace Cliff Lee.

Lee, who went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for Philadelphia during the latter half of 2009, will be owed $9 million in the final year of his contract.

Obviously, this was a no-brainer for the Phillies. After being dealt by the Cleveland Indians at the July 31st trade deadline, Lee gave a shaky Philadelphia starting rotation the stability that it desperately needed. Most notably in the postseason.

Lee went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a 33/6 strikeout to walk ratio during the playoffs this year.

The Phillies surely expect to be back in the thick of things next year, and with a stud like Lee leading the pitching staff, there is no reason to believe that with a little tinkering, Philadelphia could definitely make a run at a third straight appearance in the Fall Classic.

Across the country, both Los Angeles clubs are reported to have retained their respective veteran centerpieces.

The Los Angeles Dodgers received good news today when their slugging left fielder Manny Ramirez informed the team that he had decided to exercise his 2010 player option for $20 million.

While Ramirez certainly had a down year in 2009 by his statistical standards (.290 BA, 19 HR, 63 RBI), combined with a 50-game suspension for illegal use of performance enhancing drugs, one more year of Manny may still serve Los Angeles well. He should once again act as a sure stronghold while the young Dodger core continues to mature.

Bobby Abreu has also decided to stay in Los Angeles with the Angels, according to MLB Network.

The deal is reported to be at least two years long. However, specifics about the salary are yet to be confirmed. Rest assured, though, that after the year Abreu posted in 2009 (.293 BA, 15 HR, 103 RBI, 30 SB) he will be asking for more than the $5 million he received in the one year deal that he signed with the Angels last winter.

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