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So who replaces La Russa?

Oct 31, 2011, 11:09 AM EDT

La Russa closeup

Wanted: Baseball manager.  Will replace legend. There is no way you can possibly top what happened last year. Possibility you won’t have the best player on the team next year.  Must have reliable transportation.

So who bites at that?

On the one hand, replacing Tony La Russa might be a tough thing for a guy to do.  There is nowhere to go but down and, given that this was the classic “play blah baseball all year but get hot at the right time” kind of team, there’s a non-trivial chance that they will go down.  Add in the fact that, at the moment, it’s unclear if Albert Pujols is coming back, and you might have to wonder who is crazy enough to take the gig.

On the other hand, if Albert Pujols does come back — and given that Adam Wainwright should be healthy to start the season — it could be the best possible job imaginable.  St. Louis loves the Cardinals. They’ve shown that they’ll stick with a manager for a long time, even before La Russa.  With Prince Fielder likely leaving the division in free agency there isn’t an obvious mega-team to contend with.  Sweet gig!

Potential candidates/non-candidates:

  • Terry Francona: He’s looking for work. If Pujols comes back this is a win-now team and Francona has helmed a win-now team for the majority of the past decade. Same kind of gig, lower pressure, less clubhouse noise;
  • Dave Duncan: Duncan has never expressed interest in a top job and the list of pitching coaches who became good managers is pretty damn short. Like, Roger Craig and no one else, at least recently. Duncan and La Russa have always been a package deal anyway. It just doesn’t seem like the job would make a ton of sense either for him or for the Cardinals;
  • Mark McGwire: He’s in-house too, but he has zero managing experience and only two years coaching experience. How a team like the Cardinals could go from The Genius to The Novice so quickly is beyond me. And that’s before you realize that it would just lead to another winter of rehashing the old ‘roids questions.
  • Jose Oquendo: My early favorite, not based on any inside knowledge, but based on the fact that he’s Jose Oquendo and was one of my favorite players when I was a kid.  More seriously, he’s been with La Russa for a loooong time now, coaches third base and has, by all reports, been groomed by La Russa for a managing job someday, be it in St. Louis or elsewhere.
  • Terry Pendleton: The Braves first base coach and former hitting coach who, obviously, had a lot of time in St. Louis. He’s always been tremendously popular with Braves players since he began coaching and could be a good choice if the Cards are looking to keep a happy team happy.  Worth noting also that, when he was removed as the Braves hitting coach, the Braves hitting went into the toilet. The man obviously has some skills.

Many more names will spin out of this, but those are who I got at the moment.  Who do you like? I mean besides Whitey Herzog?

  1. 78mu - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Maddon and Oquendo will be on the short list. Maddon would be number 1 on my list but if not him it’s hard to see not giving Super-sub a long look.

    Just as important question is who replaces Duncan if he retires? Losing both of them will be a challenge.

    • skids003 - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      I vote for Big Mac. He’s the man.

    • lovesmesomeme - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      I think colby’s dad should be the hitting, bench, and third base coach as well as manage.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Yeah…and sadly…the elder Rasmus feels he could do all (4) simulaneously with much success.

      • Old Gator - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:45 PM

        Hitting coach, Bugs Bunny. Bench coach, Bugs Bunny. Coaching third base, Bugs Bunny. managing, Bugs Bunny….

    • raysfan1 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:04 PM

      With due respect, a thousand “thumbs down” to you, Sir, for suggesting my team’s manager leave mine for yours.

  2. Panda Claus - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Duncan will be gone soon too, might as well take his name off the list.

    I’m sure Jim Riggleman would listen as well.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      I hear what you are saying Panda…but I can tell you I am NOT the least bit excited about the prospects of Jim Riggleman coming on board. Nice guy…but that (by itself) doesn’t equate to W’s.

  3. Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Uhh Joe Maddon. Lifelong Cardinals fan. I know he has another year on his Rays contract but then again so did Theo and Hoyer. Compensation can be worked out. He’s young enough to stay a long time. Don’t believe Tampa would hold him back from his dream job.

    • Panda Claus - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      I do. Teams turn down requests for lateral moves all the time. If you were Tampa, would you let Maddon go?

      • Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        Not a lateral move.

      • JBerardi - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        Unless the Cards plan to make Maddon a manager/GM, then yeah, it is a lateral move.

      • Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        Yes it is lateral in terms of actual title. But the Cardinals are a gigantic step up from Tampa in terms of organization. Should have used the /sarcasm notation.

      • buddaley - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        No, St. Louis is not a step up in terms of organization. It is in terms of fan support, budget and tradition, but the TB organization is among the best in baseball, and the working relationship among its parts, from manager through front office and minor leagues is unparallelled.

        It is possible that Maddon would love the opportunity to manage the Cardinals. But I doubt it would be because he thinks the organization and his role in it would be better than the one he is in now.

      • Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        Fan support, budget, tradition….all seem like part of the organization to me.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:05 PM

        Two words: HELL NO!

    • dmccarrie - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      Can someone inform me as to how Joe Maddon is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan?

      His official bio on Rays.com states he is a lifelong St.Louis/Arizona Cardinals fan….I may be out of things but I’m pretty sure that’s football.

      • Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:31 PM

        Here’s one for you: http://www.bradenton.com/2009/07/12/1568479/trip-to-st-louis-has-extra-meaning.html

      • Nick C - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        Here’s another: http://tippingpitchers.com/f7/tampa-mgr-joe-maddon-obsessed-st-louis-71689/

  4. paperlions - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Albert Pujols – Player/Manager

    • JBerardi - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      Not after that hit-and-run call…

    • tophermike - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      wouldnt that be Player / Mangager?

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      I love Player/Manager ideas. Konerko would have been an awesome choice of Kenny made another outside-of-the-box move.

  5. hotkarlsandwich - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    My inside source has been telling me for the past few years it will be Mike Matheny

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      Shouldn’t you have a little MLB coaching experience? I mean…any coaching experience at the MLB level? Please don’t missunderstand me…I love Mike Matheny…but he is in the broadcast booth with virtually ZERO MLB Coaching and/or Managing experience. Are you sure your “inside source” might not be playing the “rumor game?”

  6. 78mu - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Whoever is named manager, I hope he continues Tony’s quest to have a roster of 24 pitchers and Pujols. 18 pitching changes per game. A full Darth Vader mask instead of sunglasses for night games. Pitcher batting cleanup.

    Don’t let the dream die.

    • cur68 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      I was gonna come off all pithy then I saw this. I want this.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      78: Absolutely…all of which lead to #12 in 2012.

  7. cosmoman11 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    The question is who do they have to hire to get Pujols to re-sign. Oquendo??

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      The Tony/Pujols issue was a non-starter to begin with. Pujols is looking for a long term deal and no matter what, Tony wasn’t going to be around much longer. Albert surely knew Tony wouldn’t be around after a year or two of a new contract anyway.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        Great point Falcon. Additionally, A.P. was naturally going to be playing for someone else should he sign elsewhere anyway. With this in mind however, should the TLR press conference been called to announce him coming back (like most assumed)…I could see the appeal (as far as A.P. wanting the chance to play for him for another year…or 3). After all…TLR has been operating on a year-to-year Gentlemen’s agreement for quite sometime now. So (to a Man)…noone really knew if he was coming back until a few weeks after the end of each season anyway. I don’t know…I guess what I am saying is I certainly don’t think this helps the negotiations with A.P.

    • Cris E - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      It won’t matter who they choose if he doesn’t come with a wheelbarrow full of cash. And they could hire just about anyone if the money is there. I think the manager aspect is a distant second to how far apart the Cards are from the next best offer. Oquendo only matters if the dollars are very close.

  8. missthedayswhenwedidnthavetologin - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    How about native Missourian Earl Weaver #ahwhythehellnot

  9. davenstl - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Oquendo deserves a chance. The players and fans love him and he’s paid his dues.

    • okobojicat - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      probably the worst reason to sign a manager is because fans love him.

  10. proudlycanadian - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    This is a big job and requires a big ego. How about Bobby V?

    • paperlions - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      Fuck no.

      I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        I second that with a big fat…….Mother Fuck no.

    • spudchukar - Oct 31, 2011 at 7:11 PM

      And I will be happy to 3rd that. No way.

    • cur68 - Nov 1, 2011 at 1:18 AM

      Stop dithering boys; say what you mean…

  11. Picked_Off - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Qquendo and Maddon. Not sure if Maddon will happen with a year left on his deal. I’ve been saying Qquendo would be the next man up for the past couple years. I think he would be a great decision. But I Maddon would also be great. Even if Pujols doesn’t come back, this is a great job.

  12. bgrubb - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Maddon would be an amazing score… I doubt it’s possible, but I also doubt Tampa will be able to afford to keep him after next year, so maybe they will be willing to deal…

    I’m not sure how I feel about Francona… It sound like the inmates ran the asylum in Boston…. don’t think he would be a good fit here.

    To me Oquendo would be the obvious choice. The players love him. He has managing experience from the Puerto Rican nation team. He would be a hit with the fans and players alike. It could ensure Albert sticking around.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      I hope saying that this would be a hit was a joke based off of his Men’s One a Day Commercial.

  13. amhendrick - Oct 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    As a Braves fan, I nominate Fredi Gonzalez. He’s already got experience replacing a legend!

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      amhendrick: Hahaha! While (in spirit( I fully understand (and appreciate) your post…I think they will pass. I mean…Fredi hasn’t even gotten his feet wet with you guys! LOL!

  14. chadh88 - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Cards have a history of screwing over the internal candidates, so I doubt Oquendo would move from third. Maddon may be could and hopefully could bring a pitching coach with him. I have a feeling Duncan will be gone soon given the condition of his wife and his long history of following TLR. McGwire would be interesting and this is the only town he will get a chance in but I don’t think he has the necessary experience for the top brass to give him a shot. He was also only here because of TLR courting him.

    Whoever it is, they need to be open to working with young talent so we can build the farm and stop relying on retreads to fill out the roster. Jay, Craig, and Freese need to be mainstays on this roster.

    • paperlions - Oct 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      How many managers has Moz hired? None. DeWitt has been around for the hiring of one manager. Whatever history you are referring to has zero relevance to the current process.

      • chadh88 - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:44 PM

        Fair enough, I was just referring to the fact that in my lifetime, the Cardinals have gone with experienced higher tier managers…..Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa (sorry I am only 27).

  15. woody1351 - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    who gets to manage the all star team this year?

    • hotkarlsandwich - Oct 31, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Wiki Pedia :This honor is given to the manager, not the team, so it is possible that the All-Star manager could no longer be with the team with which he won. This happened in 2003, when Dusty Baker managed the National League team despite having moved from the National League champion San Francisco Giants to the Chicago Cubs. This has also included situations where the person is no longer actively managing a team. For the first All-Star Game, intended as a one-time event, Connie Mack and John McGraw were regarded as baseball’s venerable managers, and were asked to lead the American and National League teams, respectively. McGraw came out of retirement for that purpose. Dick Williams resigned after managing the Oakland Athletics to the 1973 World Series. In 1974, he became manager of the California Angels, whose uniform he wore for the game.:

    • bgrubb - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      I’d say they go to the next runner up in the NL, Roenicke…

    • bgrubb - Oct 31, 2011 at 2:22 PM

      Although it would be fun to see LaRussa come out of retirement only for the All-Star game… would give the league a nice way to send him off.

    • chadh88 - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      Maybe Tony will get to choose. He would probably invite Santana or Bob Knight somebody to do it. Not like any actual baseball strategy is involved with the ASG.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:52 PM

        I love Bob Knight…so yeah…wonderful idea. Plus…I would really enjoy seeing him yell at a Umpire and kick dirt on em’ all (Bill Martin style).

  16. spudchukar - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Perhaps Dave Duncan will call it quits also, with a critically ill wife, but he is under contract for 2012 with a 2013 option. So unlike TLR he is already signed. Hard to know how a 66-year-old who has primarily only known LaRussa as his superior, would take to the 48-year-old Oquendo being his boss. Madden would almost surely want Hickey to come with him. But both choices are great. McGwire is so well respected by the Cards players that it would be tough for St. Louis not to re-up his contract. McKay has already indicated he is interested in retirement. Pettini who is 56, might also get some consideration. Lilliquist by all accounts did a good job in Duncan’s absence. If Duncan retires too, which I suspect, then he might move into the pitching coach picture.

    Pujols and Molina may put pressure on the Cards management for an Oquendo signing, and perhaps they could be persuaded to stay if he is named skipper, but Cards management may worry that it would be difficult for him to command the respect with those two, who are dominant personalities.

    The Madden move sure is intriguing, and with some of the comments coming from Rays ownership, a stay in Tampa may be elusive. and might just be the excuse he needs to move to his long coveted
    Cardinals.

  17. missingdiz - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    I lived in the East Bay and was an A’s fan when McGwire came up. A lot of water under the bridge since then, but everything I’ve heard about him indicates he would not want to be manager. I think he likes being in the game, hanging with the guys, making himself useful, but managing would involve too much spotlight, too much second-guessing. Having been up close to see what LaRussa had to deal with would be enough to hold just about anybody back.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      Good point(s) missingdiz.

  18. Francisco (FC) - Oct 31, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Craig was following the recent flurries of off-season moves. Soon all options had to be exercised or declined by midnight. His 70″ LED screen actively showed him videos and internet news snippets of the action and announcements as they made headlines. Then he saw one that made him jump up from his high chair! His bubble pipe almost dropped and the bathrobe was disheveled in the process.

    Tony La Russa was retiring! A Major event! A corner of his screen activated.

    “Craig, have you seen the news? La Russa is retiring!”, said Tiffany.

    “I just found out! It’s incredible! Out of the blue!”, exclaimed Craig.

    “I wonder who will replace him. Those are some major shoes to fill”

    Craig mused on this for a few moments and then his face lit up. “Why not me?”

    “You Craig?” said Tiffany while making a face.

    “Of course. La Russa and I share some commonalities.”

    “This, I have to hear.” Tiffany settled her face on her open palm wearing a very amused expression.

    “We both trained to be lawyers and then moved on to the business of Baseball later in life.”

    “Of course! How could I miss the obvious,” said Tiffany, holding her head in mock surprise.

    “Stop looking stupefied my dear and get John Moz on the line. I will make him a offer… he can’t refuse.”

  19. raysfan1 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    The Angels wanted our GM and didn’t get him. The Cards can want our manager all they want, but they can’t have him. Not even in a trade for Mr Pujols.

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