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Cox, Showalter top managers

The two are rewarded for succeeding despite payroll paring and the defections of several stars.

Associated Press
Published November 11, 2004

NEW YORK - Bobby Cox and Buck Showalter were given little chance of success after payroll purges pushed out key players. Their teams won, anyway, and so did the managers.

Cox was voted NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday for leading the Braves to an unexpected 13th straight division title, and Showalter won in the AL for turning the last-place Rangers into a contender after they traded MVP Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees.

"Some of the fans probably thought we weren't going to make it this year, but we did," Cox said after 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 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, 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. The Dodgers' Jim Tracy was third with 52.

"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.

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. But the Braves wound up 10 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia.

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 points.

Texas went 89-73, its most wins since 1999, and finished third behind Anaheim and Oakland, 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 in."

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