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Webb wins NL Cy Young

He's the best of wide-open field

Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday won a wide-open race for the National League Cy Young Award, beating out San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman.

One of six pitchers who tied for the league lead with a pedestrian total of 16 wins, Webb received 15 of 32 first-place votes and 103 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Hoffman, who broke the career saves record this season, got 12 first-place votes and 77 points.

Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, last year's winner, finished third with two first-place votes and 63 points.

"All three of us probably were deserving of it and probably a couple more guys, too," Webb said. "I knew that I had a pretty good chance."

Houston's Roy Oswalt, who led the NL with a 2.98 ERA, got the other three first-place tallies and came in fourth with 31 points.

Webb, who went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and made his first All-Star team, was listed second on seven ballots and third on seven.

"We were very excited for it," Webb said. "It's with you forever. To have that title go along with you means a lot."

Webb's victory total was the lowest for a starting pitcher who won the Cy Young Award in a full season. The previous low was 17 wins, by Pedro Martínez of the Montreal Expos in 1997 and Randy Johnson for Arizona in '99.

Acta to manage Nats
Manny Acta was hired by the Washington Nationals, making him the youngest manager in the major leagues.

The 37-year-old Acta, a coach with the Mets the past two years, replaces 71-year-old Frank Robinson, who was told during the final week of the season that he wouldn't be back.

The Nationals went 71-91 in 2006, finishing in last place in the NL East for the third consecutive season. New ownership, led by team president Stan Kasten, is overseeing an overhaul of the team in hopes of being competitive when Washington's new stadium opens in 2008.

"We have a very good plan in place here. We're going to do it the right way," Acta said. "We're going to be patient, and we're going to bring a winner here, sooner rather than later."

Acta will lead what could be an inexperienced roster next season, although he does know some Nationals veterans: He worked as Robinson's third base coach with the Expos in Montreal from 2002-04, before the franchise moved to Washington.

Acta agreed to a two-year contract with two one-year club options.

Wallace joins Astros
The Houston Astros hired Dave Wallace as their pitching coach, replacing the fired Jim Hickey. Wallace, 59, had been the Red Sox' pitching coach since 2003. He previously served in the same capacity with the Dodgers from 1995-97 and the Mets in 2000 . . . At the general managers meetings in Naples, Fla., players and owners said they plan to stage the second edition of the World Baseball Classic in 2009. "Timing and format still have to be discussed, but we're going to go ahead with it," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said.

El Duque stays on
Orlando Hernandez stayed with the Mets, agreeing to $12 million, two-year contract. El Duque, acquired by the Mets from Arizona in May, went 9-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 20 starts for New York. El Duque, who turned 41 last month, has an 81-60 career record with a 4.19 ERA in eight major league seasons . . . Mark DeRosa became the first free agent to switch teams this offseason, agreeing to a $13 million, three-year contract with the Cubs. A nine-year veteran, he is expected to be the Cubs' every day second baseman. The 31-year-old batted a career-high .296 with 13 homers and a career-high 74 RBIs last season for the Rangers . . . Former major league shortstop Rey Ordonez was among nine players signed by the Mariners to minor league contracts.

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