Ken Griffey Jr. thinks Dusty Baker is going to have a positive impact on the Reds' organization.
"All he has to do is put my name in the lineup every day," Griffey told the Cincinnati Post. "He's going to help this organization top to bottom. He's going to have an influence on the front office, the Minor Leagues and the entire Cincinnati Reds organization. It's going to be good for the city of Cincinnati to see what can happen with a big-name manager, something it hasn't had since Lou Piniella."
Griffey, who is preparing for his 20th season in the big leagues, sounded rejuvenated by the selection of Baker and the direction of the club.
"I'll keep playing as long as I'm having fun," he said. "I still look forward to going to the ballpark every day and playing. I'm still having fun, it's not like work."
Clean shave for Youkilis: Kevin Youkilis is sporting a new look this offseason. The Boston first baseman cut off his signature goatee Tuesday in the name of charity.
Youkilis has formed a new organization -- Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids. In exchange for shaving his goatee, Gillette is donating $5,000 to the organization. The charity is dedicated to rallying local and corporate support for groups focused on the health and well being of children in New England and in Youkilis' hometown of Cincinnati.
As Youkilis was getting ready for Meaghan Boyle and Michelle Fonzi to cut off his goatee, he promised the clean-shaven look wouldn't last long.
"I'll start it up again," Youkilis told redsox.com, "because a lot of people seem to like it.
"It feels good. It feels nice and clean. The peanut gallery wanted me to keep the moustache. I don't think the moustache would've worked."
Pedroia caps season with top AL rookie honor: Dustin Pedroia was voted the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America Monday. Pedroia, who led all AL rookies with a .317 batting average, had 132 points as he was chosen first on 24 of 28 ballots. Delmon Young, the Rays' right fielder, was second with 56 points and Brian Bannister, who excelled as a starter with the Royals in his first season, was third with 36 points.
"It's just been, it's kind of been a dream come true this whole year," Pedroia told the Boston Globe of winning the award as well as a World Series title this year. "In your first year in the big leagues, you want to establish yourself as a good player. The only thing I cared about was trying to help the team win. That was our ultimate goal."
Todd Jones follows heart back to Motown: After recording 75 saves over the past two seasons for the Detroit Tigers, veteran reliever Todd Jones has re-signed with the team with a new one-year deal.
"Ultimately, the team that I think had the best chance to win was Detroit," Jones told MLB.com. "And the team that I was most comfortable with is Detroit. And where my heart is, is in Detroit. It's just great. I just appreciate the Tigers letting me kick tires and letting me look around with no hard feelings. Because in an industry where ultimately it can sometimes become a very harsh business, [president/general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] and I maintain a wonderful, professional relationship."
After he signed, Jones admitted that there was no place else he really wanted to pitch. Other than Atlanta, that is, close to his home. He had his chance to talk to the Braves, and he got his answer.
"That question was simply yes or no, and their [answer] was no," he said. "So I knew from the get-go, very early, that there wasn't going to be any discussions for that. I was glad at the way that they handled that."
The Tigers, meanwhile, are pleased to have Jones back in the fold.
"We're very happy to have Todd back in the organization," said Dombrowski. "For us, he's done a quality job the last couple years, and for us, [it was] a real big need to have him come back and fill that closer role."
Rowand not one to watch and wait: Free agent outfielder Aaron Rowand, who most recently played outfield for the Phillies, says that returning to Philadelphia is not out of the question, even though he is now free to negotiate with any team.
"I don't know anything at this point," Rowand told MLB.com. "It's early in the process. Today is when teams can start giving [financial] offers. I'm leaning on my agent because he's gone through this a lot of times. I really don't know what's going to happen."
Rowand will not, though, sit around and wait for players like Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron and Andruw Jones to set the market.
"If the right thing comes along, and it's the Phillies, that's great," said Rowand. "I'd like to go back and if the right thing comes along, I'm there. I'm not waiting for anyone else to sign. It's what's right for my family. I'm not thinking about what the rest of the guys are doing. It has nothing to do with that."
Sabathia wins AL Cy Young Award: C.C. Sabathia, a winner of 19 games in 2007, has won the AL Cy Young Award. He finished ahead of Boston's Josh Beckett and the Angels' John Lackey.
"It feels good to have a consistent year all the way through," Sabathia told MLB.com shortly after the season ended. "It was nice to stay healthy and be consistent and pitch well and be the guy I need to be in this clubhouse."
There was little doubt from those around him that Sabathia had everything working for him during the season.
"I think he really feels confidence in all his pitches at any time," pitching coach Carl Willis said recently. "C.C.'s been here a long time, but still, at 27, to have that type of confidence in all your pitches is tremendous."
Manager Eric Wedge also noticed a very mature, workmanlike demeanor coming from his pitcher.
"You couldn't tell a difference when he walked out of the locker room, if he had won 1-0 or lost 1-0," said Wedge recently. "That's leadership, and that's presence. His teammates saw that."
Braun wins in closest vote in quarter century: Ryan Braun earned the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year award, which is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Braun edged Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by two points, 128-126, the closet vote since the current format was instituted in 1980. Before 1980, writers voted for only one player.
Braun collected 17 of the 32 first-place votes, with 14 second-place votes and one for third. Tulowitzki received 15 first-place and 17 second-place votes. Five points are awarded for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one for third.
Braun joins Pat Listach as the only Brewers to win the Rookie of Year honor. Listach earned the award in 1992 with the Brewers played in the American League. Braun admits he was nervous Sunday night ahead of Monday's announcement.
"I finally got up around 6 a.m. and went for a jog, trying to work off some nervous energy," Braun told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I've probably already got 50 to 100 phone calls and text messages. It's very exciting."
Braun said the close vote was "incredible." It speaks to what Troy Tulowitzki did, also.
"I knew Troy had a phenomenal year and helped get his team to the postseason," said Braun. "I knew that would factor in (the vote). I figured it would be close. I had no idea if I would win."
Braun, who wasn't recalled from the Minors until May 25, led all NL rookies with 34 home runs, 66 extra-base hits and had extraordinary slugging percentage of .634, a whopping 155 points higher than Tulowitzki's (.479). Braun also hit .324, 33 points higher than Tulowitzki.
Houston's Hunter Pence placed third and Chris Young of Arizona was fourth in the voting.
Young gets plaudits from Pedroia: While Dustin Pedroia was named the AL Rookie of the Year, 22-year-old outfielder Delmon Young finished second in the voting, showing his strong season wasn't overlooked.
Young led AL rookies in RBIs (93), hits (186), total bases (263) and outfield assists (16). He hit .288 with 13 homers, 65 runs and 10 stolen bases while playing in all 162 games. Only once did he go more than two games without a hit.
While Young was not available for comment, Pedroia said he was impressed with Young's season.
"Delmon is definitely as worthy to win this award as much as anybody else," Pedroia said told the St. Petersburg Times. "The writers vote for it, but I think he's just as deserving.
"I really didn't know about the margin. All I know is that Delmon Young is an unbelievable player. He's going to be in the middle of that lineup for a long time. He's going to be kicking our butt for a long time."
Jones brings left-handed bat to Tigers: It's already been a busy offseason for the Detroit Tigers. After acquiring shortstop Edgar Renteria earlier this fall, the Tigers then re-signed pitcher Todd Jones and shortly thereafter made a trade with the Cubs for outfielder Jacque Jones.
"Jacque Jones gives us another left-hand bat, which we've tried to secure for a couple of years," Dombrowski told the Detroit News. "It works out well for us. He knows how to win. And while I'm not sure what Jim (Leyland, Tigers manager) has in mind for his lineup, it becomes a pretty deep batting order. It gives us some depth. "
Leyland, meanwhile, is definitely glad to have Jones on board.
"He was one of the guys on our list when we were in Florida (for organizational meetings)," Leyland said of Jones. "I didn't know how it would work out. A lot of it depended upon who was available and how things fit into budgets, but he was one of the guys we earmarked."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.