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Ken Rosenthal predicts the 2009 awards


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American League MVP

Grady Sizemore, Indians

Only three center fielders have won this award in the past 25 years — Willie McGee in 1985, Robin Yount in 1989 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997. Sizemore, hailed in 2007 by Indians general manager Mark Shapiro as "without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation," has yet to finish higher than 10th in the AL voting.

Victor Martinez had a better year than Sizemore when the Indians won the AL Central in '07. The Indians finished .500 in '08, depriving Sizemore of greater consideration. This season, though, the team again figures to contend. Sizemore, by approximating his '08 numbers — 39 doubles, 33 homers, 90 RBIs, 38 stolen bases — would emerge as a favorite for the award.

National League MVP

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins

C'mon, it's no fun picking Pujols every year ...

Ramirez, the only player besides Sizemore to produce 30 homers and stolen bases last season, should become a stronger MVP candidate by moving from the leadoff to No. 3 spot in the Marlins' batting order.

Ramirez's stolen-base total will not necessarily decline — the Blue Jays' Alex Rios stole 29 bases out of the No. 3 spot last season — and his RBI total only should increase.

True, Ramirez batted only .239 with runners in scoring position last season, but he had 86 fewer plate appearances in those situations than the NL leader, the Mets' No. 3 hitter, David Wright.

The Dodgers' Manny Ramirez will be a major contender for this award if he again plays in 153 games, as he did last season. His totals the previous two years — 130 and 133 — probably are more realistic.

American League Cy Young

Roy Halladay, Blue Jays

Granted, Halladay might get traded to an NL club at midseason and become this year's CC Sabathia, a Cy Young without a country. But he also could get dealt to a prospect-rich AL contender such as the Red Sox or even the Rangers, keeping his candidacy intact.

Halladay has averaged 17 wins, 230 1/3 innings and a 3.22 ERA the past three seasons. The Blue Jays' likely decline could damage his Cy Young chances, creating opportunities for pitchers such as the Yankees' CC Sabathia and Red Sox's Jon Lester. But going with Halladay always makes sense, regardless of the circumstances.

National League Cy Young

Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

Yeah, it's a wacky pick, but hear me out. Several of the league's top starters worked harder last season than they ever had before. Those pitchers might not be as strong in 2009, creating the potential for a darkhorse to emerge.

Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, the reigning Cy Young, jumped to 227 innings from 177 1/3, including 31 at Class AAA, the previous season. Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, the World Series MVP, jumped to 252 1/3, including post-season, from 183 1/3.

Johan Santana also reached a career-high by pitching 234 1/3 innings, but not by much. The greater concern is that Santana averaged less than a strikeout per inning for the first time since becoming a full-time starter in 2004.

Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Webb, a top two finisher the past three seasons, is always a smart pick, but I've got a hunch that a Cliff Lee-type sleeper is going to win the NL award.

Gallardo made a strong debut in 2007, then missed most of last season with a knee injury. The Marlins' Ricky Nolasco or Josh Johnson probably would be a better choice; the Brewers need Gallardo to be an ace at 23, and their bullpen is a mess. Whatever, he's my Cliff Lee.

American League Rookie

Elvis Andrus, Rangers

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and Rays left-hander David Price are safer picks. Both will open the season in the minors, and the selections of Ryan Howard in 2005, Ryan Braun in '07 and Evan Longoria in '08 showed that a player does not need to start the season in the majors to win this award.

Andrus is only 20. He probably will not much hit this season, if ever. But he will be the Rangers' shortstop from Opening Day.

His makeup is outstanding. His defense will be a revelation for a team that struggles every season with run prevention. His base-running and ability to handle the bat (bunting, moving runners over, executing hit-and-runs) also should prove assets.

For Andrus to win the award, the Rangers will need to surprise and Wieters and Price will need to stumble. Both scenarios qualify as unlikely, but Andrus at least stands a chance of becoming the Rangers' first Rookie of the Year since Mike Hargrove in 1974.

National League Rookie

Tommy Hanson, Braves

For the sake of consistency, I should go with Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin, employing the same logic that I used to pick Andrus. But Hanson, a 22-year-old right-hander, is an ace in waiting. He will open at Class AAA, but might be on an even faster track than Maybin toward stardom.

Ideally, the Braves will not even need Hanson; right-handed newcomers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez are particularly durable. But it's highly doubtful that the Braves will use only five starters all season when their rotation includes 43-year-old lefty Tom Glavine, who is coming off shoulder and elbow surgery.

Once Hanson gets his chance, there will be no turning back. He was terrific in the Arizona Fall League and terrific in spring training, drawing praise from one Braves' veteran after another.

American League Manager

Ron Gardenhire, Twins

It's about time, isn't it? Gardenhire finished third for this award in 2002 and second in '03, '04, '06 and '08.

The Twins' starting pitching makes them the team to beat in the AL Central, but the club is hardly without issues — Joe Mauer's back, an overcrowded outfield, the bullpen leading up to closer Joe Nathan. One way or another, Gardenhire will keep them in contention, then receive his just due.

National League Manager

Charlie Manuel, Phillies

Manuel, the runner-up to the Cubs' Lou Piniella last season, would have won the award if the votes were collected at the end of the postseason instead of the end of the regular season.

The Braves' Bobby Cox and Cardinals' Tony La Russa are threats in their respective underdog roles. The Mets might erect a statue of Jerry Manuel outside of the new Citi Field if he can help the team avoid another September collapse.

The Phillies, though, should be headed to their third straight postseason appearance under Charlie Manuel. If it happens, the vote might not even be close.

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Hated that Teixeira trade... we let go of Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz (another uber-prospect arguably on the same level as Hanson) and Salty just to end up with Kotchman starting at first two years later.

yea and even though I like Kotch you have to view it with hindsight that we traded Salty, Elvis, Harrison, Feliz for Kotchman. Not such a good trade we can thank JS for that one. He knew he was in his last year and to **** with the team he just wanted to make one last run for his name sake.

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cant say it was a bad trade because i loved having tex he was the best piece we could have got for that playoff stretch.... just because it didnt have the same result as the Fred McGriff trade doesnt mean we didnt need Tex's bat and glove in the lineup... atleast we didnt trade all that for Randy Winn or someone... and for a brief moment we all got to see Tex play stellar defense and a heck of the bat (for 6/7ths) of the season. Having Kotch now all hope might not be lost... hopefully we still have some fruit of the loin to gain from the trade lol

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Didn't mean to hi-jack this topic... but we should have kept Teixeira. I'm sure we could have resigned him if we had traded Chipper to a contesting team for a shore of young talent. I know this is all coulda woulda shoulda, so I'll stop talking about it.

I'm still quite excited for the first game of the year being on Saturday... and the Braves are actually televised up here! I'm thinking of getting MLB TV, but I'm still not sure if it's worth it. I have to see how good the Braves are... it's not worth purchasing the MLB TV package for $189 and end up watching a crappy team. And while I'm on that topic, does anyone know if I can just pay for one payment of MLB TV and have only that period of time to watch Braves baseball? Or do you have to pay all four payments instead of just one?

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Didn't mean to hi-jack this topic... but we should have kept Teixeira. I'm sure we could have resigned him if we had traded Chipper to a contesting team for a shore of young talent. I know this is all coulda woulda shoulda, so I'll stop talking about it.

I'm still quite excited for the first game of the year being on Saturday... and the Braves are actually televised up here! I'm thinking of getting MLB TV, but I'm still not sure if it's worth it. I have to see how good the Braves are... it's not worth purchasing the MLB TV package for $189 and end up watching a crappy team. And while I'm on that topic, does anyone know if I can just pay for one payment of MLB TV and have only that period of time to watch Braves baseball? Or do you have to pay all four payments instead of just one?

im pretty sure you can pay mlb.tv monthly... i paid 109 bucks for the premium all year long... not a bad deal to be able to see every game

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