|San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy wins NL Cy Young Award in unanimous vote|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 16 November 2007 03:45|
Towers sat next to Peavy in the stands at Class A Fort Wayne back in 2000 as the 19-year-old charted pitches during a game. The GM was beyond impressed with the youngster's observations.
``I swear when I was done talking to Jake, you would have thought you were talking to Greg Maddux,'' Towers said.
That's a pretty good comparison. After winning the NL Cy Young Award on Thursday in a unanimous vote, Peavy has more in common with Maddux than just being Padres teammates.
While Peavy needs to win three more Cy Youngs to match Maddux, this one was pretty impressive for the 26-year-old ace.
After leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts - pitching's version of a Triple Crown - Peavy received all 32 first-place votes and finished with 160 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Arizona sinkerballer Brandon Webb, last year's winner, was a distant runner-up with 94 points. He was listed second on 31 ballots and third on one.
``What a day,'' Peavy said after getting a standing ovation from a few hundred season-ticket holders who watched a news conference at Petco Park. ``To bring this award home to San Diego, we don't get a lot of recognition. I'm dang glad to be a San Diego Padre.''
It was the 12th time an NL pitcher has been an unanimous choice for the honor, the first since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2002. Peavy became the fourth San Diego pitcher to win the award, joining reliever Mark Davis (1989), Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry (1978) and lefty Randy Jones (1976).
``It's humbling when you think about all the great pitchers we have in this league, and to think that you were unanimously chosen as the best pitcher in the league this year,'' he said. ``I'm certainly honored.''
Peavy went 19-6 while topping the majors in ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240) for the Padres, who came within one win of their third consecutive playoff berth. He joined Roger Clemens as the only starting pitchers to win a Cy Young Award without tossing a complete game.
Clemens did it once in each league: 2001 with the New York Yankees (AL) and 2004 with Houston (NL).
Even as the Padres celebrated Peavy's accomplishment, they acknowledged that they've been discussing a contract extension with the player's agent. It would certainly be the richest contract in team history, if it gets done.
Peavy earned a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, and the price of San Diego's 2009 club option increased by $3 million to $11 million.
``It's our hope that he'll be here for a long, long time,'' Towers said. ``We want to make smart business decisions. A smart business decision, I think, would be to keep this guy in place, based on the type of individual he is, the type of performer he is ... the type of guy we want to be kind of the face of our organization.''
Said Peavy: ``I'm really not worried about it. The team has given me financial security for the rest of this old Alabama boy's life. ... I just want to be fair to the rest of my peers when I sign something.''
Peavy had a chance to put the Padres in the postseason - and earn his 20th win - when he started the wild-card tiebreaker against Colorado. But the 26-year-old right-hander was ineffective at Coors Field, giving up six runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Rockies rallied for three runs against career saves leader Trevor Hoffman in the 13th and won 9-8, then charged all the way to the World Series.
``I believe we've got something special here,'' he said. ``You've got my word that I'm going to come back as hungry as ever.''
Brad Penny of the Los Angeles Dodgers finished third in the voting. Cincinnati's Aaron Harang was fourth and Chicago's Carlos Zambrano came in fifth.
Peavy, the National League's starter in the All-Star game, was the front-runner nearly all season. He consistently stymied opponents, allowing only 13 home runs in 34 starts. He gave up 169 hits and 68 walks in 223 1-3 innings.
Selected by San Diego in the 15th round of the 1999 draft, Peavy became the fifth different NL pitcher to take the prize since Johnson won four straight times from 1999-2002.
Webb was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA and 194 strikeouts, pitching an NL-best 236 1-3 innings. His streak of 42 scoreless innings helped the surprising Diamondbacks finish with the best record in the league (90-72).
Two years after sitting next to Towers in Fort Wayne, Peavy made his big league debut on June 22, 2002, against the New York Yankees at Qualcomm Stadium. Called up from Double-A, he allowed Alfonso Soriano's double on his first pitch and another double to Jason Giambi. Then 21, Peavy gave up only three hits in six innings in the 1-0 loss.
He's been with the Padres ever since.
A two-time All-Star, Peavy also won an ERA title in 2004 and a strikeout crown in 2005. His nasty stuff has made him one of baseball's toughest assignments for years, but this season was his most impressive.
``I don't really feel that I did anything different in '04 or '05, other than just had better luck to help win some games and obviously get some recognition for that,'' he said.
The American League MVP will be announced Monday - with Alex Rodriguez considered a lock - followed Tuesday by NL MVP, which could be a close race.
Cleveland lefty C.C. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday.