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Vladimir Guerrero had such a huge impact during the final week of the season that voting for the American League Most Valuable Player award wasn't even close.

Guerrero easily defeated his competitors on the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees on Tuesday, becoming just the fifth player to switch leagues and earn the honor in his first season with his new team.

The Anaheim Angels right fielder received 21 of 28 first-place votes and 354 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield finished second with five first-place votes and 254 points. Boston players split the remaining two first-place votes, with left fielder Manny Ramirez finishing third with 238 points and DH David Ortiz winding up fourth with 174 points.

Guerrero was prepared for a close vote.

"I was in no way expecting it to be the way it came out," he said through a translator during a conference call from the Dominican Republic.

Guerrero, 28, signed a $70 million, five-year contract with the Angels in January after eight seasons with Montreal. He hit .337 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs as Anaheim won the AL West, and led the league with 124 runs and 366 total bases.

He batted .371 in September with 10 homers and 23 RBIs, and went 14 for 30 (.467) with six homers and 11 RBIs in the last six games of the season, helping the Angels finish one game ahead of Oakland.

Player 1st2nd3rdTot
Guerrero, Ana2151354
Sheffield, NY589254
Ramirez, Bos 1149238
Ortiz, Bos 1-5174
Tejada, Bal-1-123
Santana, Min--2117
Suzuki, Sea--198
Young, Tex--192
Rivera, NY---59
Rodriguez, Det---36
Schilling, Bos---14
Nathan, Min---12
Jeter, NY---11
Kotsay, Oak---8
Rodriguez, NY---8
Damon, Bos---7
Konerko, Chi---7
Blalock, Tex---5
Mora, Bal---5
Teixeira, Tex---5
Hunter, Min---4
Martinez, Cle---4
Durazo, Oak---3
Cordero, Tex---2
Ford, Min---2
Guillen, Det---2
Hafner, Cle---2
Matsui, NY---2
Figgins, Ana---2
Chavez, Oak---1
Varitek, Bos---1

Boss meets with Pedro

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez met for two hours with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner at New York's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.

The free-agent right-hander was accompanied by agents Fernando Cuza and Pat Rooney. New York Vice Presidents Mark Newman, Billy Connors and Damon Oppenheimer also attended. "We had a good meeting," Steinbrenner said in a statement.

ESPN's Web site reported that the meeting was unknown to Yankees officials in New York until just hours before Tuesday's summit. Most of the Yankees' front office is not thrilled with the concept of adding a six-inning pitcher.

The Yankees are deeply in the hunt for Carl Pavano and lefty Eric Milton, and will intently pursue Randy Johnson via trade from Arizona by dangling Javier Vazquez.

According to the Hartford Courant, the Red Sox have offered Martinez a two-year contract worth about $25 million, with an team option for a third year. That's equivalent to what they're paying Curt Schilling the next two years, but a cut from the $17.5 million Martinez earned in 2004.

Expos sign a pair

WASHINGTON -- For a team without a budget, the Expos made a big early splash in free agency.

In their first major moves since their relocation, the Expos agreed to terms with third baseman Vinny Castilla, 37, and shortstop Cristian Guzman, 26.

Castilla will receive a $6.2 million, two-year contract, while Guzman gets a $16.8 million, four-year deal. Jim Bowden, hired as general manager Nov. 2, made the moves even though he hasn't been told how much money he can spend by the commissioner's office, which is operating the team until it is sold.

Castilla's signing signals that the Expos have given up on keeping free agent third baseman Tony Batista, who hit 32 home runs with 110 RBIs last season.

Around and about

Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield said "will not be blackmailed" by a person who claimed to have embarrassing sexual videotapes of his wife and a musician. Sheffied said his wife, DeLeon, "had a long-term relationship with a well-known professional singer over 10 years ago" before the couple married.

The Phillies re-signed right-hander Cory Lidle to a $6.3 million, two-year deal.

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