All pressing issues in Yankeeland, looking ahead. And none of them figure to be impacted whatsoever by the death of George Steinbrenner.
We're still saluting The Boss today for his contributions to the Yankees, New York and Major League Baseball (and you can throw in what he did for marketing and television, plus his royalty status in the Tampa Bay area). No need to stop. He earned a long recognition of his accomplishments, and Friday night's first home game back at Yankee Stadium since his passing should be special.
Yet Yankees fans can thank Steinbrenner once more for leaving the Yankees in the shape he did: In a condition where the only real effect of the principal owner's passing is an emotional one.
As Newsday reported Wednesday, the Steinbrenners have no plans to sell the Yankees at this point. Hal Steinbrenner has grown into his role as the Yankees' control person, and there's enthusiasm throughout the family about continuing to run the team.
In particular, George Steinbrenner's grandson Robert Molloy, while still a teenager, has ambition to follow his grandfather's legacy.
And really, you can't blame them. Steinbrenner died a defending World Series champion, and that's no accident. The organization runs as smoothly as it ever has since Steinbrenner purchased the team in January 1973. It's generating more dollars from its brand and putting those dollars to better use.
When Steinbrenner asked Brian Cashman to re-sign as general manager after the 2005 season, guaranteeing Cashman the power and process he desired to run the baseball operations, it marked a tangible turning point in the team's history. When he turned over the reins to his sons Hal and Hank after the '07 campaign, it served as the official passing of the torch.
The only hiccup occurred shortly after that changing of the guard, as the Steinbrenner boys - stung by the intense criticism after Joe Torre's departure - overpaid to retain Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez. The A-Rod commitment of 10 years and $275 million already is looking shaky, here in Year 3, and it could really haunt them as A-Rod marches toward 40 and beyond.
Now, however, the family has its footing. Cashman will work in conjunction with the family this winter to determine proper price points for their own free agents Girardi, Jeter and Rivera (and, in the annual negotiation, Andy Pettitte) and Texas' Lee. It won't be hard-core baseball negotiations - Jeter will get a considerable bonus for being who he is - but neither will they be driven solely by emotion. There'll be a comfortable middle ground.
Let's not kid ourselves and say this was part of some grand design. Steinbrenner's health wouldn't allow him to do everyone's job anymore, as he remarkably used to do. Yet The Boss did speak regularly of "bringing the young elephants into the tent," and when he slowed down, the elephants were warming up in the bullpen, ready to go.
The Yankees will try to honor The Boss with another championship this year. They'll do so fully prepared to put together another dynasty. Just as he'd want, they're prepared to go right back to work.