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La Russa expected to return to Cardinals for 2011

Oct 17, 2010, 8:45 AM EDT

Tony La Russa

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan informed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday that he will be returning for the 2011 season. And now it looks like manager Tony La Russa is about to make the same call.

According to the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, a person close to La Russa said Saturday that he would be “very surprised” if the veteran skipper opts not to return to St. Louis next season. Strauss opines that the Cardinals are simply waiting to make the announcement and probably won’t until scouts from throughout the organization convene at Busch Stadium late next week.

La Russa led the Redbirds to a disappointing 86-76 record this season despite two Cy Young candidates in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, a Rookie of the Year candidate in Jaime Garcia and sluggers Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.

The 66-year-old battled with young outfielder Colby Rasmus at different points in the season and insisted on giving frequent playing time to mediocre talent — like Aaron Miles and Randy Winn. That commitment to replacement-level players frustrated right fielder Ryan Ludwick, who moved on to San Diego at the trade deadline in search of an everyday role. The Cardinals landed Jake Westbrook in that trade, and Westbrook pitched quite well down the stretch, but he is a free agent this winter and the club may have to let him walk because of a looming extension for the one they call “El Hombre.”

Nonetheless, La Russa was formally invited back by the Cardinals last week and is almost certain to return. As for his coaching staff, including former slugger and steroid user Mark McGwire? It remains to be seen.

  1. mangothefruit - Oct 17, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Something I just realized the other day; the tram that has won the NL Central has not won a single GAME in the playoffs since 2006. Reds this year, Cards last year, and Cubs the two years before all got swept in the NLDS. The Brewers got the Wildcard in 2008 and lost 3-1, so it’s an overall 1-15 in the last 4 years for the cream of the crop.

    Not sure if there’s a stat which highlights the terribleness of the NL Central as much as that. The inability to win that division even with Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, Wainwright, Garcia and Carpenter is a firing offense, not an ‘extend contract for millions of dollars’ case.

  2. paperlions - Oct 17, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    If he and Duncan come back, I hope they bring some sense of fun and excitement…the last few years they’ve just been oppressive and grumpy. Last year’s team showed no fire or joy in playing whatsoever. Then again, that happens in any working environment where the employees have no idea what the boss wants from them because he is a horrible communicator.

  3. Ari Collins - Oct 17, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    Resume “trade Colby Rasmus to my team” talk.

  4. apbaguy - Oct 17, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    I rarely talk about our APBA keeper league, but the first thing that struck me about this story was that St. Louis starters are now more valuable, given LaRussa’s and Duncan’s track record of turning mediocre performers into better than average pitchers. Kind of like Bob Fosse in “All That Jazz”, “I can’t make you a great dancer, but I can make you a better dancer”.

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