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Tony La Russa with expanded rosters: “like handing him a blank check and the run of Home Depot”

Sep 13, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

I didn’t watch the Cardinals-Pirates game last night, but my Twitter feed was full of references to Tony La Russa overmanaging the game. Which the Cardinals eventually lost.  Shocker, I know. I nearly dropped my bubble pipe I was so gobsmacked.

Anyway, David Schoenfield has a great breakdown of the game over at ESPN’s Sweet Spot today. It’s not just a look at the game, but it’s a great take on La Russa himself.  About all that makes him so good but which also drives us so crazy.  Here’s a taste:

Fast forward to the bottom of the eighth inning Monday night in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals leading 4-3. It’s September, which means expanded rosters, which is like handing La Russa a blank check and the run of Home Depot. He brought in Shane Robinson to play center field, his third center fielder of the game. He moved Skip Schumacher from center to right, Schumacher’s third position of the game. He brought in Octavio Dotel for Kyle McClellan, who had pitched a perfect, seven-pitch seventh.

Read the whole thing. That is, unless you’re a Cardinals fan who watched that game and many others in which La Russa snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

  1. proudlycanadian - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    Leave La Russa alone – NOT! He is a strange manager..

    • cur68 - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      Well, there’s the problem: “He brought in Octavio Dotel for Kyle McClellan, who had pitched a perfect, seven-pitch seventh.”

      From bitter experience, PC, we can say any move that involves Octavio Dotel in a close games will almost certainly result in a loss for his team.

  2. trevorb06 - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Why doesn’t TLR just coach kids t-ball? At least there everybody IS suppose to play once. Plus they’re all winners so he’ll never have to lose!

  3. heyblueyoustink - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    I understand the affliction. With a DVR full of Heisenburg, baseball on 3 different channels, Talihina Sky on Showtime and the Food Network, I wear out the remote too.

    • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      You actually made it through Talihina Sky?

      That was more brutal than the Cards game.

      • heyblueyoustink - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        Absolutely. Amazing how a band produces that kind of sound when they’re from that far into the back woods. You missed some of the better stuff at the end if you didn’t wait it out.

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        I made it through on trainwreck value alone, it was a tough watch.

        I’m about as big a fan of theirs as I am seeing Corey Patterson up to bat in a game deciding moment.

        One makes my ears bleed while the other makes me cringe in disgust.

  4. okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    I watched the whole thing – as a Cards fan it was trying to say the least.

    Too many moves, horrific lack of execution by a few players…

    It was almost like having a crystal ball and seeing the outcome before it happened.


    • paperlions - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      Exactly. Then….just when you thought the might pull it out anyway….Patterson.

  5. bravesman1983 - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    With the Braves crapping the bed in nearly every RISP situation last night, the only fleeting joy I could take away from the evening was the knowledge that TLR was in Pittsburgh outsmarting himself yet again.

  6. paperlions - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    I think the analogy needs some work. Everyone knows TLR doesn’t like new shiny things. It is more like setting him loose at a flea market or antique shop full of things that don’t work as well as new things (or that don’t work at all), but for which one feels nostalgia.

  7. 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:28 AM

  8. crookedstick - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    The worst thing about all the changes was that apparently he boxed himself in to where Corey Patterson (COREY PATTERSON!!) was his best/last option to tie or win the game. That should be the headline of the whole fustercluck.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      Back when Frank Robinson was (poorly) managing the Nationals, I think he managed as though he only had nine innings to win the game. If things went to extras, he’d have no one to pinch hit. Pitchers would pinch run.

      For a bad team, it’s didn’t seem like a terrible theory.

  9. thefalcon123 - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    The Cardinals #2 at the start of the game was Jon Jay, who is hitting a fine .309/.356/.446

    At one point, LaRussa pinch hits Allen Craig for him. Okay. Craig is a good hitter, but Jay is hitting .289 against lefties, so it seems a bit silly to pinch hit for your center fielder with a guy who really shouldn’t play center.

    LaRussa then subs out Craig for Shane Robinson, a recent AAA call up. Your team just got worse. You follow?

    Now, it is the bottom of the 9th, the down 1 with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Shane Robinson spot comes up. Remember, this should have been Jon Jay’s spot.

    LaRussa realizes that Shane Robinson with the game on the line pinch hits for him. With Corey Patterson. Who is has a .274 OBP overall this year and a .188 OBP with the Cardinals. LaRussa, with the game on the line, due to his absurd absurd over managing, was forced to pinch hit with a man who has consistently proven himself to be one of the worst hitters in baseball.


  10. Jonny 5 - Sep 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Is it me or is he losing the games for the team more frequently than ever? It seems to me that his over management only accounted for a couple of losses and a couple of wins in the past pretty much making it all wash out pretty even in the end. But recently it’s as if the scales of justice are tipping on him and the losses are becoming more frequent than the wins with his managing “style”. It’s hard to put a number on, but it seems that way to me anyway.

    • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      I think they just become more magnified as the wild card race has tightened with the season drawing closer to ending.

      The players should always be held accountable as well, they have to execute when called upon – even if they never should have been called upon in the first place.

      • paperlions - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        It isn’t fair to expect Patterson to not suck or to expect Scrabble to do well against RHB. The manager put his players in a position to fail….exactly the opposite of his job description. All he had to do was NOTHING. Leave Jay in and let the game play out. Maybe the result would have been the same, but at least then the best players would have determined the outcome….not guys that have no business being on the roster.

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 13, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        I get what you’re saying and agree to a degree.

        Should f’n Patterson been up?

        Hell no!!!

        While up should he have swung at a ball a foot over his head for strike one and a 55 footer to end the game?

        Hell no!!!

        Players are put into positions to fail by every manager in every game every night, hell – great hitters fail 7 out of ten times.

        Bottom line for last night was too many goofy wholesale changes followed by horrific execution by those called upon to step up.

  11. dailyrev - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    So Clint did not over-manage. He put a stick bug into the game to get the winning RBIs. Set a preying mantis beside Pedro Ciriaco and you’d want to tell the mantis to lose some weight. But Pedro’s handle-double would have been for nothing except for Chase D’Arnaud, a kid who would be carded at a lemonade stand. What a brilliant play in the 9th. Then Clint left Jaramillo behind the plate with everything on the line.

    Moral: if you win, your over-managing was just right. If you lose, you’re a hardware mall junkie. It’s sad that this is the takeaway from such a great game.

  12. flavius217 - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Does La Russa even know that after Sept. 1, he’s allowed to carry more than 12 position players?

    It is inexcusable for a manager of a team fighting for its playoff life to send in Corey F. Patterson with the game on the line.

    He’s the biggest horse’s petute in the Army.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      LaRussa’s not in the army. Why don’t you find another profession to compare him to.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        He’s like the worst commenter on a free blog.

      • flavius217 - Sep 13, 2011 at 2:53 PM

        It’s a “M*A*S*H*” reference. I believe it was Henry Blake with regards to Frank Burns.

        Lighten up, Francis.

  13. Francisco (FC) - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Schubert was playing in the background. Craig, in his bathrobe and bubble pipe extending to the side of his mouth, was lost in the music as he used his gloves on the Spatial Operating Interface mode his 70″ LED screen supported. Dozens of holographic images slid across the screen as his hands worked and manipulating the images of a baseball game. Discarding one image and moving others, putting the scene together. On two separate inset head shots, Tiffany and Aaron were watching, somewhat puzzled.

    “When did he install this?”, asked Tiffany. “I don’t have a clue,” said Aaron.

    “I just wanted to show off my new Baseball PreCog system,” said Craig. “As you can see, tonight’s game has Carpenter going strong for 6 innings before being tagged for a couple of runs in the 7th breaking the 0-0 tie. Karsten is also pitching pretty well up to this point and will be adequately relieved. LaRussa continues to put in extra fielders and pinch hitters, pinch runners, but can only stave off the inevitable. The game will end with a 3-1 Pittsburgh Pirates victory. It’s amazing how the more LaRussa manages the more certain his defeat becomes. He must actually believe he has free will.”

    “So this is what you mean when you said you weren’t panicking at the Brave’s recent slump?, asked Aaron.

    “The Cardinals don’t have the moxie to pull of this kind of upset,” answered Craig in a matter of fact kind of tone.

    One more image popped up. One of Pujols at the plate. Tiffany pointed at it. “Hey Craig, is that Pujols hitting a grand slam in the 9th?”

    Craig frowned and nearly dropped his pipe. He looked at the offending image and with one flick of the finger the zipped it off the screen to his left. “Pay no attention to that, it’s the minority report.”

  14. Jonny 5 - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    “The Cardinals don’t have the moxie to pull of this kind of upset,” answered Craig in a matter of fact kind of tone.”

    LMAO!!!! Good job FC.

  15. spudchukar - Sep 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    You are all full of crap.

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      I think you’re confusing us with Angel Pagan.

    • cur68 - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      No. I myself am full of cake at this moment.

    • paperlions - Sep 13, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      No, we are not. This isn’t even a case of 2nd guessing. EVERYONE was questioning these bad decisions in real time. LaRussa has lost a lot of games via over-managing this year because he repeatedly puts players in position to fail and insists on playing guys that shouldn’t even be on a roster.

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