Blog Entry

Potential replacements for La Russa

Posted on: October 31, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:16 pm

By Matt Snyder

It's back to reality in St. Louis. The Cardinals got to bask in the glory of their World Series championship for a few days, culminating with a parade Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, manager Tony La Russa told the players he's retiring. Monday morning, the move was announced in a press conference at Busch Stadium.

So it's back to business for general manager John Mozeliak. Here are a few names that might be considered -- or at least names that people might be throwing around the rumor mill in the next few days:

Terry Francona - It feels like he's got to be the immediate front-runner, though this is only speculation. Francona won two pennants and two World Series championships in eight seasons for the Red Sox, piling up a .574 winning percentage despite playing in the toughest division in baseball. He needed to get out of Boston and he did, but that doesn't mean he's averse to another job immediately.

Joe Maddon - Maddon took over the embarrassment that was the Devil Rays back in 2006. In 2008 they were just the Rays and playing in the World Series. These Rays are a perennial contender and Maddon's as much a part of that as anyone. There's no question Maddon is one of the best managers in baseball, but would he leave Tampa Bay? If Mozeliak wants Maddon, he needs to sell Maddon on the difference in experience between Tampa Bay's financial woes, low fan support and awful facilities to what he'd get in St. Louis.

La Russa retires
Terry Pendleton - He played the first seven years of his career for the Cardinals (1984-1990), was the Braves' hitting coach from 2001-2010 and is currently the Braves' first-base coach. Pendleton has been connected to Cardinals via rumors in the past (when La Russa was reportedly mulling retirement) and has also been reportedly considered to be named the manager of both the Nationals and Braves at different times. He seems like one of those guys on the cusp of getting his first shot, so maybe it happens here.

Bobby Valentine - Hey, there's a managerial opening, so we have to throw Valentine's name in the ring, right? I actually think it's a rule, so don't blame me for falling in line.

Ryne Sandberg - Sandberg is probably closer to getting his first shot than Pendleton, but both the Red Sox and Cubs are likely strongly considering him. It would be another slap in the face to the rival Cubs if the Cardinals hired the Hall of Famer (he played the overwhelming majority of his career for the Cubs -- just a heads-up to those historically challenged), but should that even be a consideration in the hiring process?

Jose Oquendo - Another former Cardinals player, the versatile Oquendo was with St. Louis from 1986-1995. He has been the Cardinals' third-base coach since 2000 and has interviewed for several other managerial openings. Oquendo also served as the manager for Puerto Rico in each of the first two World Baseball Classics.

Jim Riggleman - Riggleman played in the Cardinals' minor-league system and also managed at both the Class-A and Double-A levels for the Cardinals back in the early 1980s. He's a very highly respected baseball man, but his track record as a manager isn't sparkling. He's managed 12 seasons and made the playoffs just once (the 1998 Cubs, who had to win a one-game playoff to take the wild card). Also, the manner in which he resigned this past season from the Nationals' managerial post can't leave teams pining to hire Riggleman.

Joe Torre - Um, yeah, he's not going to manage anymore. Don't waste your time even thinking about this one.

Dave Duncan - The best pitching coach in the game is too valuable in his current role. Plus, not many pitching coaches make a successful transition to manager. I can't see the Cardinals taking this route.

Mark McGwire - One year of being a hitting coach doesn't mean he's ready to be a big-league manager. There are so many more qualified guys to have the manager job, I don't see Big Mac even being a consideration.

Albert Pujols - Hey, the White Sox considered Paul Konerko as a player-manager, right? And what better way to afford Pujols than to give him the salaries for both the manager and a superstar first baseman. Plus, he's been calling hit-and-run for years! (This is a joke, by the way. Pujols is not going to be even considered).

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Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:22 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Allegedly, Oquendo HAS been groomed for just this situation, so it does not seem this will be a protracted search/process.   Moreover, TLR's protocols FOR preparation - which inevitably requires a "team approach" with systems and infrastructure (and assignments) already in place - a significant EDGE that the Cardinals HAVE always had under LaRussa, are a HUGE intrinsic advantage over hiring "from the outside"!     The players are comfortable AND APPRECIATE the systems in place, and I agree transitioning to Oquendo SHOULD be seemless!  

This move (Oquendo) almost certainly would add (better) stability to a roster chock full of players in free agency, etc. who might be more inclined to sign elsewhere if "the system" gravitates to MORE to rebuilding and/or restructuring via "regime change"!    Lastly, everyone KNOWS that the most VAULABLE coaching asset in STL IS Dave Duncan, so keeping him comfortable has GOT to be part of the remedy going forwatd! 

Congratulations, Tony, on your 3rd series crown and a great career!   You WILL be missed, but I also believe you are making a very smart and strategic decision!   Leaving while on top is NEVER a bad idea!   Good luck going forward!

Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa response

That is funny coming from a redsox fan...One, Pulols is not gone yet.  Two, check the ages of our pitcher vs your own Boston Redsox...funny right.  Three, our closer blew one save, who is your closer again?  Four, we lost our manger, but not the GM, can redsox nation even say that.  Five, we are in the race year, after year, after year and have more World series appearance over the past seven years than the redsox, oh and we have won twice.  We don't rebuild, we reload Inkmeister...Why don't you buy another first baseman...

Since: Oct 13, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:48 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Valentine.....His takes as an analyst have been wrong time and time again and makes it difficult to take him serious.
You must have missed his games then - he constantly analyzes and predicts what pitch is coming next (and is right more than many others!), also he is correct about what the manager is thinking as evidenced by a few mins later -- action on the field is exactly what Valentine said it would be!! 

He has longevity with the Rangers 1985-1992 and the Mets 1996-02 and he can manage.  Why not take him serious?  he has a ton of experience, is great with the media (which you need nowadays, don't you know?), has a sense of humor, and knows the game.  yeah, he's too great for your team then!   *tsk tsk*

Since: Oct 13, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:43 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Joe Torre - Um, yeah, he's not going to manage anymore. Don't waste your time even thinking about this one.
We wouldn't have even THOUGHT about Torre until you brought it up.  It was dumb to even add him to an already long list.  Torre was a former Cardinal Manager in the early 90s and you didn't even bring that up!!

Then you go all Lumberg on us with a silly "Um, yeah" line in there?  Isn't this the professional and classy CBS Sports website?  This isn't FOX you jacko, this is CBS!!   And we get treated to "Um, yeah" 's?  what the bleep is wrong with you Snyder??? 

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:22 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Losing Pujols, old pitching staff, no consistently effective closer, bats don't field and field don't bat... great fans but don't be mistaken by title... this will be rebuilding task for a few years...
Looking at what you say neutrally, with no hate in my mind...I would have to agree. This team stumbled through the season and just got hot at the right time, and with some luck..made it to the playoffs and went on an amazing run. That can't be taken away from them. But going ahead, yes it's going to be a rebuilding project. With LaRussa gone, Pujols will more than likely be gone. Holliday is hurt more than he plays. Will Berkman be as good without Pujols in the lineup? Was his good season a fluke? Who is going to produce runs for them? You can't expect Wainwright to step right in and be a cy young cantidate as someone has already said... 

Cardinals have a few players taking up well over half of there payroll already, so I can't see them having much money to make any moves to improve the club. Whether Prince re signs with Milwaukee or not, I would have to say even without him The Brewers look better going forward. 


Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:09 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Losing Pujols, old pitching staff, no consistently effective closer, bats don't field and field don't bat... great fans but don't be mistaken by title... this will be rebuilding task for a few years...

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:58 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Why would Riggleman's name ever come up?  He is a scum bag, no talent manager who deserted his team.  I hope that clown never works again.

Since: Sep 29, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:55 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

Interesting on Terry Francona, would put him in the same division with his former GM.  I wonder if Ron Washington wants to move north?  Then he could make pitching changes all agme long and no one would know the difference....sorry, I'm still a little mad from game 6....I know it's not all his fault...but Darren Oliver????  Seriously???

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:53 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

 wouldn't count out Dave Duncan by any means.  Most pitching coaches are also former pitchers.  Duncan is catcher and we knows the came inside and out.
He just went through some serious personal trials. Seems to me the stress of being the manager may not be best for his current situation. He should stay on as pitching coach and if he needs to leave for personal reasons, he has that option. You don't want your manager in that situation.

To me as a baseball fan, not a Cardinals fan, Jose Oquendo is the best fit. He's managed successfully in their farm system and was Tony's trusted 3B coach. He also played for the organization and is highly thought of in the organization and throughout baseball. He also would have a nice connection to the latino players on the team. That's a nice addtional bonus to a guy who on the surface is deserving without that.

Jose Oquendo would continue the philosophy that is there while adding in his own persoanl touches. The players know and respect him. it would be a seemless transition. For a newly crowned world champion, that seems to be the best fit.

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:45 pm

Potential replacements for La Russa

 His takes as analyst  have been wrong time and time again and makes it difficult to take him serious.
 Take away the yst and you get a perfect description of Valentine as a commentator and person.

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