Baseball

MLB notes: Diamondbacks' Gibson, Rays' Maddon take manager awards

Kirk Gibson and Joe Maddon won Manager of the Year awards Wednesday — one for overseeing a worst-to-first turnaround that lasted all season, the other after a frantic playoff push in the final month.

Gibson was a clear choice in the NL for guiding the Arizona Diamondbacks to the West title. A former MVP as a rough-and-tumble outfielder, Gibson was honored in his first full season as a big- league manager.

Maddon won the AL award for the second time. He was an easy pick after helping the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a nine-game deficit to beat out Boston for the wild-card spot on the last day. It was the biggest rally any team had made in September to claim a playoff berth.

The results were announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The NL Cy Young Award winner will be revealed Thursday with Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers the leading candidate.

Gibson and the Diamondbacks went 94-68, a year after he took over in midseason as Arizona went 65-97. Stressing fundamentals from the first day of spring training, the 54-year-old Gibson pushed his team into the playoffs, where it lost to Milwaukee in the 10th inning of the deciding Game 5 in the opening round.

Gibson drew 28 of the 32 first-place votes and got 152 points. He was the only manager in either league to be listed on every ballot.

Ron Roenicke of the NL Central champion Brewers was second with three first-place votes and 92 points. Tony La Russa of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals was third with the other first-place vote and 24 points. Voting was completed before the start of the playoffs.

The free-spirited Maddon added to the AL honor he won in 2008. The 57-year-old manager who likes to speak on a vast array of subjects beyond baseball never panicked, even when the Rays started 0-6 this season after losing several players to free agency during the winter.

Tampa Bay won its final five games to earn its playoff spot on the final day of the regular season then lost to Texas in the first round.

Maddon drew 26 of 28 first-place votes and had 133 points. Jim Leyland of the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers got the other pair of first-place votes and had 54 points and Ron Washington of the AL champion Rangers was third with 31.

Gibson was a two-time World Series champion, winning with Detroit and the Dodgers. He was the fourth former MVP to win the manager award, joining Joe Torre, Frank Robinson and Don Baylor.

Gibson and Bob Melvin (2007) have won the manager award with Arizona.

Maddon is the seventh multiple winner of the AL award. La Russa won three times in the AL and once in the NL.

Astros reportedly headed to AL after sale

Major League Baseball told Houston businessman Jim Crane it would not approve his purchase of the Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the American League, The Associated Press has learned.

Crane was forced to agree in order to move the sale along, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made by MLB or the Astros. Approval of the sale could be announced as early as Thursday at a meeting of baseball executives in Milwaukee.

Crane reportedly agreed to the move in exchange for a drop in the sales price valued earlier this year at $680 million. The person who spoke to the AP could not confirm the sales price.

The MLB Players Association believes two 15-team leagues would create a more proportionate schedule and has urged baseball to make the switch. With schedules for next season already completed, the earliest such a move could take place is 2013.

Time is running out for approval of the deal: Crane has said that his offer, which was announced on May 16, expires Nov. 30.

An MLB spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment, though Commissioner Bud Selig addressed an Astros' move during a Twitter chat on Monday.

"For 15/15 realignment, Houston would be the team moving to AL West. Would create more fairness in baseball," Selig tweeted via the Colorado Rockies Twitter feed. He also added that "15 teams in each league would necessitate interleague play every day but it will be better schedule overall."

The Astros currently play in the six-team NL Central. The AL West is the only division in the majors with four teams (Rangers, Angels, Athletics and Mariners).

The Astros would be in a division with in-state rival Texas. But fans are unhappy that the other three teams are all on the West Coast, meaning many road games would routinely end past midnight Central time.

McGwire retained by Cards

ST. LOUIS — New Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny is keeping most of Tony La Russa's coaching staff.

Mark McGwire and Dave Duncan are staying on for 2012, but first-base coach Dave McKay and bench coach Joe Pettini were both dropped from their positions on Wednesday. Both will remain in the organization and assist in baseball operations.

McGwire will enter his third season with the club. The 66-year-old Duncan will head to his 17th season with the Cardinals and 33rd overall, most among major-league pitching coaches.

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