PHOENIX -- Having missed their chance to capture a fourth consecutive World Series title, the New York Yankees now enter an offseason filled with many questions. A handful of players are ready to hit the free-agent market, while one of the mainstays of the past decade has officially hung up his spikes, meaning that the 2002 edition of the Bronx Bombers may have a very different look.
|Tino Martinez is a free agent who may not return to New York next season.
Paul O'Neill played his final game on Sunday, and the Yankees will have to find a new right fielder for the first time since 1993. In addition, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch are all free agents, and none of them are certain to return to the Yankees next season.
Moments after dropping Game 7, both Brosius and Martinez were asked if they thought that they had played their final games in a Yankee uniform, but neither of them were in the mood to answer such questions.
"Not right now," Martinez said. "It's disappointing to be in this situation, but I won't think about that for a couple of weeks."
"We'll worry about the future in the future," added Brosius. "It's too soon to think about that, we still haven't had time to process what happened out there tonight. We'll wait and see how that stuff plays out."
General Manager Brian Cashman, who suffered his first Fall Classic defeat in his four years as GM, said that the Yankees would examine all options in the offseason as they looked toward next season.
"I'm very proud of what this team has accomplished," Cashman said. "We'll go back to the drawing board here and work to get back to this point, put ourselves in a position to try to win another one."
Jorge Posada, with tears in his eyes following the Game 7 loss, said that he would like to see the team remain intact for another run at the World Series.
"You have to go on. This is a good run and we have a good team here," Posada said. "The toughest thing is, hopefully we can get everybody back together. I know O'Neill's not going to come back, he's been a great teammate. We have a good team here and we can get back to the World Series next year."
"This team doesn't need any motivation for next season," said Andy Pettitte. "This was a great series, and we're going to come back next year planning on being right back in the World Series. I don't think winning or losing tonight would have driven us any more or less."
Despite the disappointment, Posada thinks that the dynasty is far from over.
"We are somewhat young in here. We're going to have a good team," Posada said. "This team is too good. You have to be proud of what we did. We came back against some tough teams. We came to the seventh game of the World Series."
Cashman said that while the six-year run was impressive, New York will not have the familiar feeling of going into the 2002 season as the team everyone will be gunning for.
"We won three in a row, but we're not champions now, Arizona is," Cashman said. "If we have a chance to make the right moves and put ourselves back in a position to win, some things can continue and we can keep it going. Right now, it's time for Arizona to shine."
RALLYING AROUND ROCKET: Roger Clemens gave the Yankees everything he had on Sunday, throwing one-run ball over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out 10 Arizona batters, leaving the game with a 1-1 score in the seventh inning.
After going 20-3 on his way to a probable sixth Cy Young Award, his teammates felt that it was only appropriate that he started this game -- and gave New York the gutsy performance he did.
"He was great. This was absolutely how this game was supposed to be played out," said Scott Brosius. "It was billed as two great pitchers on the mound, they both threw the ball tremendously. Rocket gave us a chance to win. He did everything you could ask for out of a Game 7 pitcher."
Clemens, who threw 113 pitches -- 75 for strikes -- left the game with a runner on first and one out in the seventh. Mike Stanton got New York out of the inning, but the Yankees fell in the bottom of the ninth to lose the series.
"He was pumped up, threw a lot of strikes," said Jorge Posada. "We had a chance to win because of the way he pitched today."
"Roger was gutsy. He had good stuff. I didn't think that he threw enough strike ones, but he still managed to dance around it and be effective," said Joe Torre. "He's been our leader on the pitching staff, there's no question. He had two tremendous starts in a row, the Game 3 we needed to get back into it and today to hopefully win it. He got us in a position to get a lead late in the game, which is really all we wanted."
NEW YORK PRIDE: Despite losing the World Series in seven games, the Yankees didn't lose the support of New York's "First Fan" -- Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
"They gave us one of the greatest World Series ever," Giuliani said. "They should be very proud of their achievements."
Giuliani flew to Arizona for the final two games of the series, but watched in agony as his beloved Bronx Bombers dropped both games to lose the series. Giuliani praised the Yankees for battling back against the Oakland A's in the first round after falling behind 0-2, saying that they provided New Yorkers with an exciting month of baseball.
"It was great for New York, it was a great October," Giuliani said. "You couldn't have had a better October, with the exception of winning the final game. But it's better than if they had lost three straight to Oakland. We had all of the playoff and World Series games we possibly could. It was great for the morale of the city, it was great for the economy of the city. We got everything out of it but the World Series victory, but we've had so many, we can deal with that."
Mark Feinsand is the site reporter for Yankees.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.