Maddon, Piniella honored as top managers

New York, NY (Sports Network) - Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon was selected as the American League Manager of the Year on Wednesday, as chosen by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, a two-time AL Manager of the Year (1995, 2001), was adorned with a similar honor in the National League after guiding his team to an NL-best 97 wins and their second consecutive NL Central title.

Maddon, who became the first Tampa Bay manager to win the award, finished first on 27 of 28 ballots cast by two writers in each league city. He also placed second on another for a total of 138 points based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system.

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire received the other first-place vote and finished second with 58 points, while Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim skipper Mike Scioscia, the 2002 winner of the award, finished third with 45 points

This was Gardenhire's fourth runner-up finish.

Piniella, meanwhile, received 15 first-place votes, eight seconds and was third on four other ballots for 103 points, 36 more than Philadelphia Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, who placed first on eight ballots, second on six and third on nine others.

Previous Cubs skippers to win the award, which was first presented in 1983, were Jim Frey in 1984 and Don Zimmer in 1989.

Piniella became the fourth manager to win the award in both leagues, joining Jim Leyland, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox.

Despite their success this season, the Cubs were swept in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight year.

"Time heals a broken heart I guess," said Piniella. "We had an outstanding year in Chicago. We won 97 ball games, the most in the National League. Then in the postseason we went away rather quietly again in three games, which is very, very disappointing. Two years in a row now we've won our division and two years in a row we've been disposed in the first round of the playoffs."

The 54-year-old Maddon, who succeeded Piniella in Tampa, led the Rays to a franchise-best 97 wins en route to their first AL East title in team history after having finished out of last place just once in their 10 previous seasons of existence.

Prior to this season the Rays had never won more than 70 games in a single year.

Maddon's team, which had finished with the worst record in baseball the last two seasons, advanced all the way to the World Series, despite ranking 29th out of 30 teams in payroll. The Rays, though, ran out of magic in the Fall Classic, where they were upended by Manuel's Phillies in five games.

"To me, it means we did a pretty good job, obviously," said Maddon. "Things are moving in the right direction, getting to the playoffs, getting to the World Series. None of us thought World Series. We were definitely shooting for the playoffs."

Florida's Fredi Gonzalez (48 points), Los Angeles' Joe Torre (45 points) and La Russa (11 points) of the St. Louis Cardinals also received first-place votes and finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

New York Mets skipper Jerry Manuel (10 points), Houston's Cecil Cooper (three points) and Milwaukee's Dale Sveum (one point) rounded out the voting in the NL.

Boston's Terry Francona (six points), Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox (three points) and Toronto's Cito Gaston (two points) completed the AL voting.

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