For the sixth consecutive season, Eric Chavez was selected as the top defensive third baseman in the American League. Teammate Mark Ellis, who posted the best-ever fielding percentage for a second baseman, on the other hand, is still waiting for his first.

Despite battling injuries all season, Chavez claimed the Gold Glove Award, edging out a strong field of contenders including Hank Blalock, Joe Crede, Brandon Inge and Mike Lowell. Some observers think Chavez played his best defense ever in 2006.

"It doesn't really make much sense," Chavez told the San Jose Mercury News. "Offensively, I had a terrible year, but I was still able to play good defense. I think it's the most rewarding part of this thing."

Chavez joined Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (16) and Buddy Bell (6) as the only AL third baseman to win six Gold Glove Awards.

"We don't win the division if Chavy doesn't play third base," A's General Manager Billy Beane said. "If there's ever such a thing as a difference maker with his glove, it was him this year. We might lose 3-4 games if he's not at third."

New team and position for Burrell? The Giants are looking to add offense this offseason and they are thinking creatively to make that happen. The latest idea is to acquire Pat Burrell from the Philadelphia Phillies and convert him into a first baseman.

Burrell was a third baseman in college, played 58 games at first base in his rookie season, but has played left field exclusively since 2001.

"He's more athletic than a lot of first basemen I've seen," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told the San Jose Mercury News. "He'd be fine over there."

Burrell hit .258 with 29 home runs and 95 RBIs last season.

Matthews hasn't ruled out return to Rangers: Gary Matthews has filed for free agency, but the center fielder has not ruled out returning to the Texas Rangers. But that doesn't mean he isn't going to listen to offers from other teams.

"Thus far, the interest from other teams is overwhelming," Scott Leventhal, Matthews' agent, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "There are a tremendous amount of teams looking for a big bat who can lead off, play center field, drive in runs and play Gold Glove defense. I don't know if anyone fits that description as well as Gary."

Matthews is one of the top center fielders in the free agent market. Always known as a strong defensive player, Matthews had an outstanding season at the plate this year as well. Teams can start to negotiate with Matthews about contract terms starting Nov. 12. But one of the negotiations Matthews is currently watching is whom the Rangers will name as their next manager.

One of the finalists is Texas bench coach Don Wakamatsu, and Matthews admits he hopes Wakamatsu lands the job.

"Guys wouldn't be telling the truth if they said they weren't pulling for Wakamatsu," Matthews said. "I've gotten the chance to build somewhat of a personal relationship with him over the last couple years. It would definitely be a positive [if he was hired]."

Hall scoops up Brewers' honors: Bill Hall started the season playing no set position. But after taking over as the starting shortstop in mid-May, Hall established himself in the lineup.

This week, Hall was named the Milwaukee Brewers' Most Valuable Player by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Hall led the team with 35 home runs, 85 RBIs and 39 doubles while hitting .270.

Hall was also honored with the team's "Good Guy" award, which is given to a player for his cooperation and interaction with the media. And the Milwaukee organization awarded Hall with the Michael Harrison Award for Community Service.

Cuban defector Perez signs with Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers signed shortstop Yohannis Perez, 24, who defected from Cuba two years ago and has since lived in the Dominican Republic.

Perez has been invited to the Brewers' Spring Training camp as a non-roster invitee and, according to scouting director Jack Zduriencik, is expected to play at Triple-A next season or higher.

"He has some nice tools," Zduriencik, who watched Perez work out in Florida as well as play in some games in the Dominican Republic, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We think he can play the middle of the infield."

Zduriencik credited Fernando Arango, the Brewers' coordinator of Latin American scouting, for developing a strong relationship with Perez, allowing the team the chance to sign him.

"He kind of liked us, right off the bat," said Zduriencik. "We had some information on him from when he played in Cuba. He's a pretty good runner who can field and throw.

"We'll bring him to big-league camp and let the pieces fall where they may. I think he saw an opportunity here to start near the top (of the farm system)."

Eckstein joins select group: When the St. Louis Cardinals finished off the Detroit Tigers last weekend to win their 10th World Championship, it was a milestone of sorts for shortstop David Eckstein, too.

Eckstein, who was also the starting shortstop in 2002 with the Angels, is one of only three players in Major League history to start at shortstop for two different franchises that have won world titles.

That accomplishment is something very special to him.

"The one thing that is most important is winning a championship," Eckstein told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "It is the ultimate accomplishment. The highest thing you can do in this game is to be a world champion. It quiets a lot of the critics. It cannot be questioned."

Aurilia ready to test market: Free-agent shortstop Rich Aurilia could still be back in Cincinnati in 2007.

"He's not eliminating us by any stretch," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky told the Cincinnati Post. "At least, that's what I'm being told."

Each side declined an option for 2007, making Aurilia free agent. But Aurilia's agent, Barry Axelrod, confirmed that all doors are open to his client.

"I've been doing this for a long time, and the first thing or the main thing I've come to realize in every free agent season is you can't predict anything," said Axelrod. "It may be that there's a very hot market for a guy like Richie and it may be that people are kind of ho-hum about it. That was really our point with the Reds: we're not going to know that until we have a chance to get into it and be out there and let people let us know what interest they have."

In 2006, Aurilia batted .300 with 25 doubles and 23 home runs in 122 games.

Grilli: 2006 season will be tough to let go: Detroit Tigers pitcher Jason Grilli can look fondly back at the run his Tigers made this year and take with him the positive experience that came with it.

"We're better for the experience," Grilli told the Detroit Free Press. "I'd rather lose the World Series than not be in it at all."

But that doesn't make losing it any easier.

"But losing this thing is pretty harsh," he admitted. "You see grown men cry.

"A lot of it is that we've been together since February -- in some cases even before that. Usually, I'm a month into my workouts by now. This year, I'm laying in bed, just taking a week to revamp."

The 2006 Tigers, he added, were a very close-knit group.

"A lot of guys connected on this team," Grilli said. "We live together. We room together. I don't know how much closer you can get.

"This was a team in every sense of the word. It was awesome."

The game, he concluded, holds on to you in ways you may not even realize.

"There's a great saying," Grilli said. "You think you're gripping the baseball, but the baseball's gripping you. It never leaves you. Baseball's that way."

-- Red Line Editorial