"He was a great teammate and had some big hits for us last year," Atkins said. "It's too bad we couldn't have him back, but I understand that he has to do what's best for him and his family."
Chris Iannetta, who started the 2007 season as Colorado's No. 1 catcher before Torrealba earned the job, is considered the best alternative within the Rockies organization. The team will also look outside the organization to fill Torrealba's void..
"Chris is close to being ready," manager Clint Hurdle said. "But I don't know if we're ready yet to put him in a position with no safety net."
Torrealba posted career highs in nearly every offensive category in 2007, hitting .255 in 113 games with eight homers and 47 RBIs. In the postseason, he hit .320 in the first two rounds of the postseason, including a go-ahead three-run homer in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Diamondbacks, as the Rockies went 7-0 against Philadelphia and Arizona.
Peavy joins select group as unanimous choice: San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy was named the National League Cy Young Award winner by a unanimous vote. It was only the second time in the past 22 years that the vote has been unanimous. Randy Johnson was a unanimous selection in 2002.
Peavy garnered all 32 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Brandon Webb took second place, receiving 31 second-place votes, and Brad Penny of the Dodgers was third.
"As a small-town kid who has such a respect for the game of baseball, it's very humbling and you are in awe of that," Peavy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It was just one of those seasons where everything came together.
"I'm dang proud to stand in front of the people and accept the award on behalf of this city and this franchise."
Peavy led the National League in wins (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240), matching Johnson's "triple crown" in 2002. Peavy also had the fewest walks and hits allowed per nine innings this season and started 34 games, second in the league.
With the Cy Young Award now on his résumé, Peavy can turn his attention to next season while his agent, Barry Axelrod, discusses a multi-year contract extension with the Padres. Axelrod said he believes a new deal can be worked out, while Peavy just hopes to have some added security by having a longer deal with the only club he has ever pitched for.
"The team has given me financial security for the rest of this old Alabama boy's life," Peavy said. "To me, this isn't about money. I just want to be fair to the rest of my peers when I sign something. I just want to be fair about the whole issue."
Monroe ready for a fresh start with Twins: Outfielder Craig Monroe, obtained earlier this week by the Minnesota Twins in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, is ready to get back on the horse and forget a less-than-productive 2007. For Monroe, getting back to where he was in 2006 while with Detroit (28 home runs and 92 RBIs) is the priority.
"I went through a tough period," Monroe told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "All players go through it. I need to go out and prove to myself and everyone in baseball what Craig Monroe can do."
With long-time Twins outfielder Torii Hunter testing the free agent market, Monroe, a good friend of Hunter's, sees the irony in him joining the Twins as his good friend might be on his way out.
"I've talked to Torii about that," said Monroe. "We've always talked about playing together. Now I have a chance to be Twin and there's a chance [Hunter] is leaving. I'm tugging at him [to stay], but I wish the best for him and his family."
Monroe says that he and Hunter, who both live in Texas and work out together in the winter, have a lot in common.
"We're built the same way," he said. "We have the same love [for the game] and the passion and the desire to be good."
Cubs' Fuld honored with Fall League award: Chicago Cubs prospect Sam Fuld, who got into 14 games for the Cubs in September, has been presented with the Arizona Fall League's Dernell Stenson Award for Leadership.
Stenson, for whom the award is named, was a Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect who was playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions when he was killed in a carjacking on Nov. 5, 2003.
"This kid plays the game like it's supposed to be played," Mesa Solar Sox manager Dave Clark, who nominated Fuld, told MLB.com. "I had talked to his (Double-A Tennessee) manager, Pat Listach, before the season and he told me I'd fall in love with the kid. He just exemplifies what this award is all about."
Fuld, meanwhile, is looking forward to taking part in his first Major League Spring Training next February.
"I don't think I ever even played in a game here prior to Fall League, so it's nice to know that when I come back here in a few months it will be knowing that I've had success on the field," said Fuld, who turns 26 next week. "Obviously, the level of competition will be a little different, but at least I'll feel comfortable."
And he does, after all, have some big league experience. Not that he remembers it too well.
"I don't remember a whole lot of the first day, it was so surreal," he said. "I went the whole year watching these guys on TV and the next day I'm in the clubhouse. So my memories of the first few days are vague."
Blum appears headed back to Houston: Geoff Blum may be returning to the Houston Astros. The ulitity infielder told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he will probably sign with Houston, a team he played for earlier this decade.
"Apparently, I don't fit into the Padres' priorities," Blum said.
Blum can play all four infield positions, but played mostly second base last season for the Padres and became their starter at that position in the second half. In 122 games, covering 330 at-bats, Blum hit .252 with five home runs, 33 RBIs and 34 runs scored.
For Hunter, it's all about plans: Torii Hunter continues to field free agent calls but is looking for the right fit.
"It's been pretty quiet. A few calls but no numbers yet," he said. "We've heard from a lot of teams, a couple today. We're going to take it slow, make sure the decision is the right one.
"If you just jump on Day One at the most money, you could end up with all the money in the world, and your team would [stink]. I want to see what their plans are. No. 1 with me is plans."
Jones still at home with Atlanta charity: Free agent outfielder Andruw Jones may have played his last game with the Braves, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he still considers Atlanta home. Along with wife Nicole, Jones served as celebrity ambassadors for a gala to benefit Jaden's Ladder, a charitable organization that helps survivors of domestic violence.
Jones came onstage during the auction part of the event, called up by auctioneer Paul Boudreau.
"We've got a man with a résumé up here!" Boudreau joked before Jones made a generous donation of $50,000 for Jaden's Ladder.
Jones was then given the mike.
"Hey, Mac, what are you putting in?" he asked Brian McCann, Jones' teammate for three seasons in Atlanta. McCann donated a $1,000.
Jones then helped Boudreau auction off a round of golf with PGA star Stewart Cink.
"He is the best golfer in our subdivision," Jones quipped of his Sugarloaf Country Club neighbor, "And in general."
The event, which continued the following day with a celebrity golf outing, raised more than $350,000 for Jaden's Ladder.
-- Red Line Editorial