NEW YORK -- Bobby Cox and Buck Showalter were given little
chance of success after payroll purges pushed out key players.
Proving the predictions wrong, their teams won, anyway, and so did
Cox was voted NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday for leading
the Atlanta Braves to an unexpected 13th straight division title,
and Showalter won the AL honor for turning the last-place Rangers
into a contender after Texas traded MVP Alex Rodriguez to the New
"Some of the fans probably thought we weren't going to make it
this year, but we did,'' Cox said following his third manager of
the year award. "I think I'm as thrilled this year as I ever have
been with one single team.''
Coming off four straight last-place finishes in the AL West,
Texas cut its payroll in half and wasn't predicted to do well. But
the Rangers rebounded and remained in contention until the final
week of the season.
"I would have picked us the same place everybody did, too,''
said Showalter, who won for the second time.
Cox received 22 first-place votes and 10 seconds for 140 points
in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Tony
La Russa of St. Louis, who has won four manager of the year awards,
was second with 62 points after leading the Cardinals to a major
league-best 105-57 record. Jim Tracy of Los Angeles was third with
"I thought Tony deserved it, to be honest,'' Cox said. "I
would be more than happy to split that trophy and have both our
names on it.''
Atlanta, struck by injuries to key players, was 33-39 after a
loss at Baltimore on June 25, then went 63-27.
"We were treading water for a good part of the season until we
got everybody back and finally took off,'' Cox said.
Cox won the AL award with Toronto in 1985 and the NL award with
the Braves in 1991, the first year of Atlanta's record run.
After the departures of pitcher Greg Maddux and sluggers Gary
Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla, the Braves were predicted
by most to finish third or lower in the NL East. But the Braves
wound up 10 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia.
Atlanta lost 3-2 to Houston in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite all the division titles, the Braves' only World Series
championship under Cox was 1995.
"I'm not a real paper reader, and I don't listen to talk
shows,'' Cox said. "Fans want to win. We gave it our best shot. We
simply were pitched out the last ballgame.''
Showalter received 14 first-place votes, nine seconds and four
thirds for 101 points, finishing ahead of Minnesota's Ron
Gardenhire, who got 11 firsts, 11 seconds and three thirds for 91
Texas went 89-73 -- its most wins since 1999 -- and finished third
in the AL West behind Anaheim and Oakland, just three games out of
first. The Rangers committed to several younger players after the
2003 season, and for Showalter that was key.
"There was a sense of urgency since Day 1. They walked through
the door and had a blast,'' he said. "We lost our first two games
of the year. It would have been easy in Oakland to have a
here-we-go mentality creep in again. Our players refused to give
Showalter also won the award in 1994 with the Yankees.
Gardenhire, who managed the Twins to their third straight AL
Central title, finished second in the voting for the second
"Sometimes the best managing you do is the managing you don't
do,'' Showalter said, "to get out of the way and trust them.''