MVP picks that may surprise you (cont.)
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Geovany Soto, Cubs. Lengthens an excellent lineup.
2. Jair Jurrjens, Braves. One of the best trades of the winter.
3. Joey Votto, Reds. Solid season overshadowed by the pub for Jay Bruce.
AL Rookie of the Year
1. Longoria. The sort of power-defense combo that teams dream about.
2. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. Cuban imported proved versatile and clutch.
3. Brad Ziegler, A's. Shutout string (39 innings) was memorable and overall numbers (1.06 ERA) aren't bad, either.
NL Manager of the Year
1. Lou Piniella, Cubs. Changed the climate; new moniker should be lovable winners.
2. Joe Torre, Dodgers. Getting the last laugh from a distance.
3. Charlie Manuel, Phillies. Had the guts to bench Jimmy Rollins -- twice.
NL Worst Manager: Bobby Cox, Braves. Finally won a one-run game on road, though.
AL Manager of the Year
1. Joe Maddon, Rays. Brilliant performance by the Renaissance manager.
2. Ron Gardenhire, Twins. Twins lost Santana, Torii Hunter and Matt Garza and got better.
3. Mike Scioscia, Angels. Best in the game, year in and year out.
AL Worst Manager: Jim Leyland, Tigers. Got almost nothing out of what seemed like something.
NL Executive of the Year
1. Jim Hendry, Cubs. Built by far the best team in the NL.
2. Pat Gillick, Phillies. Lidge deal made the difference in the East.
3. Doug Melvin, Brewers. Sabathia alone gets him on the list, but he also added Mike Cameron, Gabe Kapler and Salomon Torres (the Mets would have killed for him).
NL Worst Executive: Jim Bowden, Nats. A perennial choice on principle.
AL Executive of the Year
1. Andrew Friedman, Rays. Turned perennial laughingstock into Yankees/Red Sox slayer.
2. Ken Williams, White Sox. The Quentin trade may be the deal of the year.
3. Tony Reagins, Angels. Scooped up Hunter in Del Taco, then got Mark Teixeira for Casey Kotchman, who looks over-rated now.
AL Worst Executive: Dave Dombrowski, Tigers. The accomplished exec had an off-year; gave out big deals to Willis and Nate Robertson, and traded Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria.
Around the Majors
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been given a few extra days and now has until Wednesday to decide whether he wants to return. Could the delay be a sign that he might actually decide to go elsewhere? Yankees people aren't sure. Cashman is surely concerned about the "Hank factor,'' among other things. But most baseball people don't see a better option for Cashman.
Cashman's name has been linked to the Mariners' job, but it's uncertain whether he'd go there. Three more executives that Seattle appears to be looking at for its GM job include the highly-regarded trio of Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik, Mets assistant GM Tony Bernazard and Diamondbacks exec Jerry DiPoto.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, 38, is the most remarkable performer over the past decade. He didn't drop off a bit this year, and that's in spite of a shoulder issue.
If Mike Mussina retires after his first 20-win season to be with his family, that's admirable. It's also unusual, as the New York Times reported that the only pitchers to leave following 20-win campaigns were Sandy Koufax, who was battling arthritis, and two pitchers caught up in the Black Sox scandal
The problem with the Mets: They have five great players. And they have a few more good ones. But after that, they have a major dropoff.
Kyle Lohse (15-6, 3.78) turned out to be a major bargain at $4.5 million this year. But he did well by getting $41 million over four years (plus a no-trade clause) to stay a Cardinal. With the economy in the tank, free agents may have to settle for a little less than they hoped for this winter.
One plus for free agents: The Yankees will be all in. They are riled up by their October on the sideline and intend to outbid anyone for anybody they want.
It's firing season again. The Pirates canned two of their coaches, Jeff Andrews and Lou Frazier. And I suppose all their problems are solved now, huh?
The Tigers fired pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, who was a genius only two years ago. But they made him continue coaching after firing him. As in ... dead man walking out to the mound for a pitching change.
The Nats fired five coaches, as if it's their fault. Nice try, boys. You're not fooling anyone.
By the way, congrats to the Nationals for losing the weekend series to the Phillies and getting the first pick in the draft. I only feel sorry for San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the likely No. 1 choice.