As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I got a "vote" in their AL awards. Here's my ballot for Manager of the Year. Keep in mind that I'm looking at regular season only; not the playoffs.
1. Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins: Early last month, the Twins, a team with only two stars - batting title winner Joe Mauer and 2006 MVP Justin Morneau, lost half that firepower, as Morneau got injured. The Twins looked dead, as they trailed the Tigers by as much as seven games. But the Twins heated up, and made it a pennant race in the AL Central. Then, after a great September, Minnesota tailed off, and were three games back with four games to play. They seemed dead, yet Gardenhire didn't let them give up. Somehow, the Twins stayed in the race, tied the Tigers, and then won the AL Central in one of the most exciting one-game playoffs ever. Gardenhire deserves a ton of credit for guiding his team to this miracle. He even helped make Carl Pavano a big-game pitcher (Pavano pitched - and won - the regular season finale.) No other manager could have gotten the Twins to the playoffs.
2. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The manager did a good job guiding his team to the AL West with a depleted team - they lost closer Francisco Rodriguez , first baseman Mark Teixeira, and outfielder Garret Anderson to free agency. They were decimated by a number of injuries this year, including ones to Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. Worst of all, the team had to contend with the tragic death of pitcher Nick Adenhart. They could easily have given up. But remembering Adenhart became a rallying cry for the Angels, as the team battled on. Scioscia kept the team focused on tomorrow, despite having to face so much adversity, as they held off the Texas Rangers.
3. Joe Girardi, New York Yankees: Some might say that no one with a $200 million payroll should be considered for Manager of the Year. But Girardi deserves credit for reinventing the Yankees. After a shaky 2008, the guy with the military-style haircut let these players' freak flags fly, instead of making them follow the so-called "Yankee Way." And he managed the bullpen in such a way as to arguably make it the best one in baseball. He also was willing to change and grow in the job. This team could easily have gone off the rails and been the same old mercenary Yankees, but Girardi made them into a band of brothers. Given the enormous pressure Girardi faced - his head would have been on the chopping block if the Yanks hadn't won - he needs to be recognized for the great job he did.
What do you think? Tell us about it!