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Rosenthal hands out the preseason hardware

Rosenthal hands out the preseason hardware
Raise your hand if you predicted that Indians left-hander Cliff Lee would win the American League Cy Young award last season and that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia would win the AL MVP.

Some awards are easier to forecast than others — Albert Pujols, NL MVP, duh — but the exercise largely amounts to guesswork. Fascinating, fun guesswork, but guesswork nonetheless.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and Rays left-hander David Price are safer picks. Both will open the season in the minors, and the selections of Ryan Howard in 2005, Ryan Braun in '07 and Evan Longoria in '08 showed that a player does not need to start the season in the majors to win this award.

Andrus is only 20. He probably will not hit much this season, if ever. But he will be the Rangers' shortstop from Opening Day.

His makeup is outstanding. His defense will be a revelation for a team that struggles every season with run prevention. His base-running and ability to handle the bat (bunting, moving runners over, executing hit-and-runs) also should prove assets.

For Andrus to win the award, the Rangers will need to surprise and Wieters and Price will need to stumble. Both scenarios qualify as unlikely, but Andrus at least stands a chance of becoming the Rangers' first Rookie of the Year since Mike Hargrove in 1974.

National League Rookie

Tommy Hanson, Braves

For the sake of consistency, I should go with Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin, employing the same logic that I used to pick Andrus. But Hanson, a 22-year-old right-hander, is an ace in waiting. He will open at Class AAA, but might be on an even faster track than Maybin toward stardom.

Ideally, the Braves will not even need Hanson; right-handed newcomers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez are particularly durable. But it's highly doubtful that the Braves will use only five starters all season when their rotation includes 43-year-old lefty Tom Glavine, who is coming off shoulder and elbow surgery.

Once Hanson gets his chance, there will be no turning back. He was terrific in the Arizona Fall League and terrific in spring training, drawing praise from one Braves veteran after another.

American League Manager

Ron Gardenhire, Twins

It's about time, isn't it? Gardenhire finished third for this award in 2002 and second in '03, '04, '06 and '08.

The Twins' starting pitching makes them the team to beat in the AL Central, but the club is hardly without issues — Joe Mauer's back, an overcrowded outfield, the bullpen leading up to closer Joe Nathan. One way or another, Gardenhire will keep them in contention, then receive his just due.

National League Manager

Charlie Manuel, Phillies

Manuel, the runner-up to the Cubs' Lou Piniella last season, would have won the award if the votes were collected at the end of the postseason instead of the end of the regular season.

The Braves' Bobby Cox and Cardinals' Tony La Russa are threats in their respective underdog roles. The Mets might erect a statue of Jerry Manuel outside of the new Citi Field if he can help the team avoid another September collapse.

The Phillies, though, should be headed to their third straight postseason appearance under Charlie Manuel. If it happens, the vote might not even be close.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 30, 2009

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