McKeon NL Manager Of The Year

Jack McKeon looked at Cincinnati's payroll. Then he looked at his roster.

"We certainly showed them not so much the money factor is important in winning, but it's if you have the right players," he said Wednesday after he was voted National League Manager of the Year.

McKeon, who kept the low-budget Reds in contention for the playoffs until the final day of the season, received 17 first-place votes, nine seconds and three thirds for 115 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Atlanta's Bobby Cox, who led his team to the NL Championship Series for the eighth straight year, was second with 10 firsts, 14 seconds and six thirds for 98 points.

"I've been in the game 50 years now and this has probably been my most rewarding year," McKeon said.

McKeon, who turns 69 on Nov. 23, is the third-oldest manager in major league history behind Connie Mack, 88, and Casey Stengel, 75.

"I feel like I'm a 45-year-old," McKeon said. "I'd like to continue for four, five years at least. Maybe they won't want me, but that's the way I feel."

McKeon is a former manager of Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego and the former general manager of the Padres. He led the Reds to a 96-66 record, tying them for the wild-card spot with the Mets, who won a tiebreaker playoff 5-0.

"We were fortunate last year that we had a lot of young guys who were hungry," McKeon said. "The woods are full of one-year phenoms. We have to continue to do it."

The Reds had the 20th-highest payroll at $38 million, and McKeon nearly got them into the postseason, the exclusive domain of the top-10 spenders.

"I think one of his biggest strengths is that he just lets us go out and perform," second baseman Pokey Reese said. "We have a young team and a captain in Barry (Larkin) who leads by example. Jack just lets the coaches coach and the players play."

"With a young team, you know you're going to have a lot of mistakes. In the game of baseball, you learn from your mistakes. Jack will let you go on because he knows you've learned and you will only get better."

McKeon had hoped for a multiyear contract extension. Instead, he received a one-year deal.

"Guys like Pokey Reese, Sean Casey make the manager's job enjoyable," he said. "This is why I am staying in baseball, because of guys like that that make it fun for me and make me feel young."

Larry Dierker, who returned from midseason brain surgery to lead the Housto Astros to their third straight NL Central title, finished third. He received four first-place votes, six seconds and 10 thirds for 48 points.

Arizona's Buck Showalter was fourth with one first-place vote and 17 points. The New York Mets' Bobby Valentine was the only other manager receiving votes, getting 10 points.

The AL Manager of the Year award will be announced Thursday, with Boston's Jimy Williams the favorite.

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