Jimy Williams is a lot better at managing than he is at talking about what he does.

"I just try to listen to our kids, not talk at them or to them," he said today after being named American League manager of the year for leading the Boston Red Sox into the playoffs.

"It's a two-way conversation. I let my eyes evaluate what I see."

Despite the loss of Mo Vaughn to free agency, Williams led Boston to the AL wild-card berth. For that, he received 20 of 28 first-place votes and five seconds for 115 points from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is a team award," Williams said. "It's pretty special."

Oakland's Art Howe was second. Howe kept the Athletics in contention until September despite a $25.2 million payroll, 24th among the 30 major league teams.

Joe Torre of the World Series champion New York Yankees, last year's winner, was third. He was followed by Johnny Oates of the Texas Rangers and Mike Hargrove, fired by the Cleveland Indians after losing to Boston in the playoffs. Hargrove will manage Baltimore next season.

Boston had been expected to struggle after Vaughn left Boston to sign with the Anaheim Angels.

"Certainly Mo was an integral part of this ballclub in the past years, but wasn't with our team," Williams said. "We weren't trying to replace Mo. Maybe some other players could step up and do a little more here and a little more there. Basically, that's what happened."

Boston, 22 games behind the Yankees when it won the AL wild card in 1998, finished only four games back this year, improving from 92-70 to 94-68.

The Red Sox pressed New York in September, sweeping a three-game series at Yankee Stadium and closing within three games during the final two weeks.