11/15/2006 12:08 PM ET
Verlander is AL Rookie of the Year
Justin Verlander's not spending much time patting himself on the back about his AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Justin Verlander's 17 wins easily led all Major League rookie pitchers. (L.G. Patterson/MLB.com)
The 23-year-old right-hander finished the Tigers' magical season with a 17-9 record and an ERA of 3.63. He also won the Players Choice Award as the AL's outstanding rookie last week. But he doesn't get wrapped up in this sort of thing.
"He's so funny," Justin's father, Richard Verlander, told the Detroit Free Press. "He's not at all about awards. ... When I called him, he said, 'It's great, Dad, but let me tell you about this new car stereo I've got.'"
The younger Verlander said that while he was not quite yet over the sting of having lost the World Series to St. Louis, he feels that the 2006 season is something the Tigers can build upon.
"We can look back on this as a stepping-stone for what we can do," he said. "We've got a good foundation. You never know. This could be the start of a dynasty. I like where we're headed."
Sizemore adds to his special year: Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore has been named as the Man of the Year for the 2006 season by the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
"As a general manager, one of the highlights of my day was watching Grady play," Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He plays with the poise and professionalism of a seasoned veteran. He never cheats himself, his team or the fans on any given night."
After being just the second player to hit 50 or more doubles, 10 or more triples, 20 or more homers and steal 20 or more bases in one season -- the first being Chuck Klein in 1932 for the Phillies -- Sizemore made a lasting impact on his team.
"For a young player, his season was somewhat historic," said manager Eric Wedge. "As the season went on, it seemed like he was only one of two guys to do this or one of three guys to do that. It was pretty special stuff.
"But the best thing about Grady is he brings it every day."
Wright didn't shy from lights of Times Square: Jaret Wright, sent from the Yankees to Baltimore in a trade for Chris Britton, admitted after the trade that he never minded playing in the pressure-cooker that is New York.
"I actually liked the pressure," Wright told the Baltimore Sun. "I liked being a Yankee and all that stuff. But you go to Baltimore. It's the first time I've been traded. It's kind of a different deal. But once it comes out, there's nothing you can do about it. You focus on what you have to do. Now I'm an Oriole and that gets all my attention."
Baltimore pitching coach Leo Mazzone liked what he saw out of Wright when he was a Yankee.
"I thought he pitched pretty well for New York," Mazzone told the Baltimore Sun. "He's got good stuff and he's a tremendous competitor. He's a pitcher with character. He loves the game, he's been around it a long time and he's got intangibles. He'll fight you tooth and nail. He's great in the clubhouse. He's a class act. Everybody loves him."
Cubs didn't see a replacement for Ramirez: When Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez opted out of his contract last week and became a free agent, teams all around the league started to line up to acquire his services. But at the end of the day, it was the friendly confines of Wrigley Field where Ramirez wanted to be.
That decision sat very well with the Cubs, who are glad to still have him in the fold.
"To go out and find somebody who can hit three, four or five and take Aramis' place is a tall task," general manager Jim Hendry told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We are certainly going to look for other offensive people, and we would love to find another great player to go with him and Derrek [Lee]. But the reality of it is, to find that guy at third base or to say, 'Well, if we lose him, we'll go out and get this guy,' it doesn't always happen that way.
"So this is not only a relief, it is a positive thing to see that the player ... did stand up and say, 'Just get me back to where I was."'
Rockies keep Matsui in the fold: Second baseman Kaz Matsui re-signed with the Colorado Rockies, agreeing to a one-year deal with the club. In 32 games for the Rockies after being acquired from the New York Mets during the season, Matsui hit .345 with a .392 on-base percentage for Colorado.
The Rockies want more speed in their lineup, so Matsui will see plenty of playing time at second base and hit at the top of the lineup.
"He can help us," first baseman Todd Helton told the Denver Post. "He's very talented."
Matsui shared time at second base with Jamey Carroll in September, and that arrangement will likely continue into next season. However, Carroll will also see playing time at shortstop.
"It gives (manager) Clint (Hurdle) a lot of flexibility," GM Dan O'Dowd said.
Matsuzaka has top-end potential: The Boston Red Sox have earned the right to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka by offering the highest posting bid that has been accepted by the Seibu Lions, the team Matsuzaka pitches for in Japan.
"If they can sign him, they've got the best pitcher in the market, and he may be the best pitcher in baseball when all is said and done," one American League general manager told the Boston Globe Tuesday night. "He's got five outstanding pitches.
"Coming over from Japan where he threw a lot of innings and had 13 complete games, I would think this would seem like a vacation to him. It's a lot of money, but if you have it, why not use it on a kid like this? The Yankees have to be sick about this."
The Red Sox have until Dec. 15 to work out a contract with Matsuzaka. If a deal is not reached, Matsuzaka will pitch for Seibu once again next season and the posting fee would be refunded to the Red Sox.
Said former Red Sox adviser Bill Lajoie of Matsuzaka: "Very, very talented pitcher. It's a good move for Boston."
Ramirez is pride of Marlins' rookie class: Hanley Ramirez had a tough enough job just being the best rookie on the Florida Marlins.
In the end, Ramirez was chosen as the National League Rookie of the Year. Ramirez batted .292 with 17 home runs, 51 stolen bases and 119 runs scored. He edged out Washington's Ryan Zimmerman for the award.
"I'm not surprised," former manager Joe Girardi told the Miami Herald. "He's a special player. He has a knack for scoring runs and making things happen. I think the sky's the limit for this kid."
Ramirez was acquired prior to the season in a trade from the Red Sox. He joins Dontrelle Willis, who was also picked up in a deal, as the only Marlins to win the award.
"We're just looking for good players. Then it's ultimately up to them," general manager Larry Beinfest said. "Fortunately we've traded for two rookies of the year now. Hopefully that's a testament to our scouting and some of the deals."
Six Marlins players received votes in the balloting, the most ever by one team. Ramirez believes last year's rookies will make the team even better in 2007.
"If we bring the same energy that we got this year, we're going to be something like unbelievable," Ramirez said. "I'm not going to give the same energy. I am going to give more of myself. If everyone thinks like that, it's going to be something incredible."
Zimmerman wasn't too upset about coming in second. He's happy to be part of a great crop of young Major Leaguers.
"It was going to be close," Zimmerman told the Washington Post. "There's a lot of good people. I wasn't really expecting anything. It wasn't like it was worth getting mad or upset or anything. Hanley's a great player, and he had a great year."
Players receive five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one for a third-place finish. Zimmerman was hurt in that one of his home newspapers (Washington Post) did not allow its writers to participate in the balloting. But Zimmerman had no regrets.
"You can see kind of a turning of the page in the game with all these young guys," Zimmerman said. "It's kind of a fun new thing to watch. Hopefully, having all this new talent around will help the game. That's all we care about. Personal awards are fun. But in the end, if we can help the game and help our teams, that's more important."
-- Red Line Editorial