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Let's hand out some hardware

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While the offseason is already off and running, the Baseball Writers' Association of America will start doling out their awards this coming week.

First, though, let's take a look back at the first significant move of this offseason, as the Oakland Athletics dealt promising righty Vin Mazzaro to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder David DeJesus.

Once the A's won the negotiating rights to Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma you had a feeling they were going to deal some of that young pitching for a bat. Now DeJesus is a nice player, but he does not fill the power need that Oakland desperately needs.

In fact the presence of DeJesus actually makes them worse from a power standpoint, as top prospect Chris Carter is now the odd-man out in an outfield that will likely feature Coco Crisp in center and Ryan Sweeney and DeJesus manning the corners.


Josh Hamilton had 32 home runs, 95 runs scored, 40 doubles, and 100 RBI this past season.
I guess Carter could be the team's designated hitter, provided the A's let Jack Cust go, but who knows what Oakland general manager Billy Beane has up his sleeve. Reports are starting to circulate that the team is now interested in signing first baseman Lance Berkman.

DeJesus is a solid player who was in the midst of a terrific season last year before a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season on July 22. Had the injury not occurred DeJesus surely would have been dealt by the Royals at the trade deadline, most likely to the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants.

Bottom line is DeJesus is a terrific veteran addition to an A's team that could make some noise in the now-crowded AL West.

But anyway the bulk of the news next week should center around the BBWAA awards. So without further ado here is how I see them going this year:

AL MVP - JOSH HAMILTON, TEXAS RANGERS: It is hard to give out an MVP Award to a player who missed the majority of the final month of the season. But it is warranted in Josh Hamilton's case. The Rangers, for the most part, had the AL West wrapped up at the start of September when Hamilton fractured his ribs. Luckily they could afford him the time to heal up. They did not need him for a stretch run. Hamilton is one of the top-5 best all-around players in the game. After an injury-plagued 2009, the former first overall pick rebounded to lead the AL with a .359 average and a .633 slugging-percentage. He had 32 home runs, 95 runs scored, 40 doubles, and 100 RBI. He became the first American League player with minimums of a .359 average, 40 doubles, 30 home runs, and 100 RBI since Lou Gehrig in 1934. Not bad company. Honestly, if not Hamilton then who is the AL MVP? The only other options are Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who had a great year, but plays on a team of All-Stars, or Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who was great, but his team finished .500. Hamilton is the only choice here.

AL CY YOUNG - FELIX HERNANDEZ, SEATTLE MARINERS: Perhaps the hottest debate of all the awards this season will be AL Cy Young. We are going to see if the new wave of baseball writers, who rely heavily on stats, win out over the old- guard, a group that still puts a lot of emphasis on wins. Felix Hernandez only won 13 games for the 101-loss Mariners, but pitched to a major league-best 2.27 ERA in a major league-high 249 2/3 innings. In Hernandez's 12 losses this season, the Mariners produced only seven runs. The righty also finished the year strong, as he allowed eight total runs over his last 10 trips to the hill, while receiving zero runs of support (runs scored when he is pitching) in seven of his last 14 outings. His biggest competition figures to come from New York lefty CC Sabathia, who won an AL-best 21 games, and Tampa lefty David Price, whose numbers were comparable to Hernandez, albeit in nearly 50 less innings. King Felix was the best pitcher in the American League this season.

AL ROOKIE - NEFTALI FELIZ, TEXAS RANGERS: As important as Hamilton was to the Texas Rangers this season, you can make the argument that they may not have gotten as far as they did without 22-year-old closer Neftali Feliz. Feliz showed flashes of brilliance in limited action a year ago, but was one of the best closers in baseball this past season, saving 40 games, while pitching to a 2.73 ERA. The Rangers may still view him as a potential starter, but they will be hard-pressed to find another ninth-inning guy with as electric stuff as Feliz.

AL MANAGER - RON GARDENHIRE, MINNESOTA TWINS: It is amazing to me that Ron Gardenhire has never been named Manager of the Year for the financially challenged Twins. Chances are he will likely finish second for a sixth time this season, as Texas skipper Ron Washington seems to be the favorite. But he gets my vote nonetheless. Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball and should be rewarded as such. Nobody gets more from their team than Gardenhire.

NL MVP - JOEY VOTTO, CINCINNATI REDS: With all due respect to two-time and reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols, this year's race will come down to two men: Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Joey Votto. I am going with Votto, though, basically because his team made the playoffs. It is not most outstanding player it is the most valuable and nobody in the National League meant more to their team than Votto. The Reds first baseman flirted with the Triple Crown at one point, but still finished second in average (.324), third in home runs (37) and third in RBI (113). Bottom line is the Reds don't win the NL Central without Votto. Isn't that the definition of a Most Valuable Player?

NL CY YOUNG - ROY HALLADAY, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: This one could be unanimous. Roy Halladay is quite simply the best pitcher in baseball. All he did in his first year in Philly was lead the majors in wins (21), shutouts (4), complete games (9) and innings pitched (250 2/3). The seven-time All Star finished second in the NL with 219 strikeouts and was third with a 2.44 ERA - the second lowest in his 13-year big league career (2.41 in 2005). Oh yea and he had a perfect game, not to mention a no-hitter in the playoffs. This one isn't even close.

NL ROOKIE - BUSTER POSEY, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Everyone knew the San Francisco Giants had the pitching to compete for a World Series, but skeptics wondered where the offense would come from. Well everyone got their answer on May 29 when a catching prospect named Buster Posey entered the starting lineup for good. In just 108 games Posey batted .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI, while helping the Giants pitching staff to a major league-best 3.63 ERA. Atlanta's Jason Heyward will also get some votes, but Posey should win this award.

NL MANAGER - BUD BLACK, SAN DIEGO PADRES: Dusty Baker did a great job with the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds this season, but a lot of people thought they were close to winning anyway. How many people actually thought San Diego would actually finish above .500 let alone be fighting for a playoff spot up until the final weekend of the season? Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel should get some credit too. His team was ravaged by injuries at different points during the season, but yet in the end finished with the best record in baseball. Still and all, though, Bud Black is the clear winner here.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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