Maddon rips Young snubs

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 18, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Joe Maddon spent the late part of the season campaigning for Rays RF Delmon Young to receive consideration for Rookie of the Year.

Young held up his end in the "Vote Delmon" campaign, leading AL rookies in RBIs, hits, total bases and outfield assists while playing in all 162 games and displaying a superior baseball acumen for his age. And take away a rift with Maddon in the last weekend over not running out a ball, and Young had a controversy-free season. The 22-year-old made dramatic strides in repairing an image tarnished by a 2006 bat-throwing incident with Triple-A Durham.

Maddon, who returned to his California home Friday from a trip to see the Rays' academy in the Dominican Republic, wasn't surprised to hear that Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia, a key piece of Boston's title run, won the award, taking 24 of the 28 first-place votes. But when Maddon learned Young's name was entirely left off eight ballots, the manager argued it had nothing to do with Young or his numbers but his reputation.

"It's really disturbing," Maddon said Friday. "I can see him not winning the award, but leaving him off eight ballots is just a sign of personal prejudice."

Voting was done by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, with two in each AL city voting the top three rookies on a 5-3-1 point basis before the start of the postseason.

"I think it's wrong," Maddon said. "At that point, it has nothing to do with the player's performance. The award is not a popularity race. I don't think there was any way he wasn't one of the top three rookies in the league. ... And how many other rookies in the history of the game played 162 games like he did?"

MORE UNIFORMS COMING: Even though the Rays came out with their new look just 10 days ago, the team insists the new uniform will continue to evolve.

The Rays will pursue more uniform options for 2009, including possibly adding a road jersey with "Tampa Bay" across the chest. The main complaint about the new uniforms was removing the area affiliation from the road jerseys. Other changes could include working more of the light blue into the color scheme, releasing alternate caps and giving the sunburst logo more prominence.

"I was really glad that we only came out with two jerseys and didn't try to throw a lot out there," senior vice president/chief sales officer Mark Fernandez said. "We didn't try to throw out an alternate jersey or a Sunday jersey. Fans are going to tell you what they want. The key was pushing the Rays brand out there and telling people this is the palette we're working from."

Fernandez said it was too early to tell whether a "Tampa Bay" road jersey would replace or supplement the existing one, but he said one of the main goals of the new look was to promote the new Rays brand.

"We're wearing the 'T.B.' on our hats for all 162 games, so we're really happy with that as we continue to gauge what the fans like," he said.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Maddon was pleased with his first trip to the Dominican academy, saying the operation was better than anything he had seen in his three decades with the Angels "by leaps and bounds." ... Were the Nationals kicking the tires on Rays OF Elijah Dukes while he was playing in the Dominican this winter? Dukes' manager in Licey, Tim Tolman, is the Nats third-base coach, and the Spanish-language Web site 7dias.com reported that Washington manager Manny Acta has attended Licey games to watch Dukes in person. The Web site also says that Dukes had told his Licey teammates that he desperately needs to leaves Tampa Bay in order to resuscitate his career. ... The Rays' perceived interest in C Michael Barrett would seem to give them good value in a diluted market for catchers, but he would come at a cost. Because he is Type A free agent, whoever signs Barrett would have to give the Padres a first- or second-round draft pick if San Diego offers him arbitration.

MISCELLANY: Rosters have to be set for the Rule 5 draft by Tuesday, meaning the Rays will have to make adjustments to their 40-man roster to fit minor-leaguers eligible for the draft, most notably 24-year-old C John Jaso. ... Web site homerderby.com gave its self-created AL Andre Dawson Award, which it gives to the top player on a last-place team in each league, to Rays 1B Carlos Pena. Dawson was the 1987 NL MVP while playing for the last-place Cubs.