Showalter’s award, negotiations and more

As you’re going to notice from my Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, which I’ve posted below, I have no issues with the Orioles’ Buck Showalter being named American League Manager of the Year. Count me among the 25 voters who placed him first.

My issue was deciding which manager to omit among the Angels’ Mike Scioscia, the Royals’ Ned Yost and the Mariners’ Lloyd McClendon. Keep in mind that ballots were turned in before the playoffs.

After much deliberation, I decided to bump McClendon from my top three. It wasn’t an easy call.

Only one voter, Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, omitted Showalter from his ballot. He chose Scioscia, Yost and the Athletics’ Bob Melvin.

showalter-close-with-sunglasses.jpgShowalter guided the Orioles to 96 wins in the regular season and a sweep of the Tigers in the Division Series. They won the American League East by 12 games despite not having Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Chris Davis. They changed closers in May, they didn’t get the anticipated results from Ubaldo Jimenez and David Lough, they didn’t get the usual amount of home runs from J.J. Hardy. They had plenty of reasons to fold.

Showalter did a masterful job of getting the most out of Delmon Young, signed in January after auditioning at the mini-camp in Sarasota. He kept the Orioles headed in the right direction as the injuries mounted. Nobody manages a bullpen better than Showalter. And he took full advantage of every off-day and every loophole to give his starters extra rest or to keep them sharp with a brief assignment in the minors.

Nelson Cruz stayed healthy enough to lead the majors with 40 home runs because Showalter used him as the designated hitter in 89 games to preserve his legs.

The Orioles didn’t have a finalist for Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young Award or Most Valuable Player. But they have Showalter and Dan Duquette, named Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by Sporting News.

Showalter was late for his conference call last night. It sneaked up on him.

“I just found out that I was supposed to be on this thing 20 minutes ago,” he said. “That’s my fault. I didn’t realize we were doing it this quickly. I was sitting here having dinner with my wife. I’m sorry.”

Good stuff.

Showalter joined Tony La Russa as the only managers to win the award with three different teams.

“What it probably means is people get tired of your schtick after a while,” he said.

Never let it be said that Showalter tries to hog the spotlight or take all the credit.

“It’s such an honor to manage in the big leagues,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t look around and go, ‘Really?’ It’s pretty cool and I never take it for granted.”

Showalter has grown to love this city.

“I like getting Baltimore,” he said, “and if somebody else doesn’t get it, that’s their loss.”

Here’s more on Showalter’s win last night, with final vote totals. He received 25 first-place votes, three second-place votes and one third-place vote:

Buck Showalter, Orioles: 25-3-1
Mike Scioscia, Angels: 4-11-8
Ned Yost, Royals: 0-11-8
Lloyd McClendon, Mariners: 1-5-9
Terry Francona, Indians: 0-0-2
Joe Girardi, Yankees: 0-0-1
Bob Melvin, Athletics: 0-0-1

Here are the BBWAA ballots:

Roch Kubatko (MASNsports.com) - Showalter, Scioscia, Yost
Jim Henneman (Honorary) - Showalter, Scioscia, Girardi
Jason Mastrodonato (Springfield Republican/MassLive.com) - McClendon, Showalter, Scioscia
Alex Speier (WEEI.com) - Showalter, Scioscia, McClendon
Doug Padilla (ESPN Chicago.com) - Scioscia, Showalter, Yost
Katsushi Nagao (Kyodo News) - Showalter, Scioscia, Yost
Paul Hoynes (NE Ohio Media Group, Cleveland Plain Dealer) - Showalter, Yost, Scioscia
Stephanie Storm (Akron Beacon Journal) - Showalter, Yost, Francona
John Lowe (Detroit Free Press) - Showalter, Yost, McClendon
Jon Paul Morosi (FOX Sports) - Showalter, Scioscia, McClendon
Jose de Jesus Ortiz (Houston Chronicle) - Showalter, Scioscia, McClendon
David Coleman (Fort Bend Herald) - Showalter, Scioscia, Yost
Vahe Gregorian (Kansas City Star) - Scioscia, Yost, Showalter
Dave Skretta (The Associated Press) - Showalter, Yost, Scioscia
Jeff Fletcher (Orange County Register) - Showalter, Scioscia, Francona
Jim Alexander (Riverside Press-Enterprise) - Scioscia, Showalter, McClendon
Tom Powers (St. Paul Pioneer Press) - Showalter, Yost, Scioscia
Patrick Reusse (Minneapolis Star Tribune) - Showalter, Scioscia, McClendon
Wallace Matthews (ESPNNewYork.com) - Showalter, Yost, Scioscia
Chad Jennings (The Journal News) - Showalter, McClendon, Scioscia
Jorge Ortiz (USA Today) - Showalter, McClendon, Yost
Mark Purdy (San Jose Mercury News) - Scioscia, Yost, Melvin
Jim Caple (ESPN.com) - Showalter, McClendon, Scioscia
Jerry Brewer (The Seattle Times) - Showalter, McClendon, Yost
Roger Mooney (Tampa Tribune) - Showalter, Scioscia, Yost
Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) - Showalter, McClendon, Yost
Anthony Andro (FoxSportsSouthwest.com) - Showalter, Yost, McClendon
Kevin Sherrington (Dallas Morning News) - Showalter, Scioscia, McLendon
Mike Harrington (Buffalo News) - Showalter, Yost, Scioscia
Robert MacLeod (Globe and Mail) - Showalter, Yost, McClendon

As for the latest updates on negotiations with Cruz, he was in Phoenix yesterday for the general managers’ meetings and sat down with Orioles officials, as FOXSports.com first reported.

cruz-pointing-running-white-sidebar.pngAlso, ESPN.com reported that the Orioles made Cruz a three-year offer before he hit the free agent market. I wasn’t certain that they would be willing to give him three guaranteed years. That’s going to be as high as they go, however.

Duquette hasn’t met with Nick Markakis’ agent, Jaime Murphy, during the meetings. Don’t take it as a sign that talks are dead. They’ve just been put on hold, which is risky with other teams now able to negotiate with Murphy.

The GM meetings were two days old and we already had our first absurd Orioles-based rumor.

They haven’t made a three-year, $30 million offer to Billy Butler, according to a member of the organization. They had previous interest in him, but I don’t think they’re looking to lock up a full-time designated hitter to a three-year deal.

Gotta love those sources in hotel lobbies.

In yesterday’s “Because You Asked,” I should have included the following question:

“When do Orioles pitchers and catchers report?”

As I’ve written, they report on Feb. 18 and the first workout will be held the following day. Position players report on Feb. 23 and the first full-squad workout will be held the following day.

And finally, I want to wish all the best to Orioles manager of media relations Jeff Lantz, who is taking a job as director of communications for Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, Fla.

I heard over the weekend that Lantz put in his two weeks notice, and he’s going to be missed.

The Orioles never filled the job of public relations director after Monica Barlow passed away on Feb. 28. Now, they may need to make two hires.

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