St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa watches during the Cardinals' 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) By Gene J. Puskar
St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa argues with first base umpire Mike Carlson after a close play at first in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010 in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam) By Tom Gannam
(KMOV)-- Tony La Russa is on the clock now. He said he'll have a decision within a week as to whether he'll be back for 2011. La Russa wondered out loud whether the team has gone stale after 15 years under his direction. I doubt that's the case. How many of the players have been around for 15 years? None. The veterans who have played under La Russa for several years (Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Yadier Molinda, Adam Wainwright, Skip Schumaker) are among his most vocal supporters. It's entirely possible however, that La Russa's act has gotten stale with the fan base and with the media. I think many Cardinal fans are a little tired of seeing Tony berate reporters who ask reasonable questions after games. That attitude doesn't play well here. I think fans get frustrated with some of the odd line-ups La Russa uses, and perceive him to over-manage in many situations. There is also frustration in La Russa's continued use of aging, veteran players over younger ones. Did we really need to see so much of Aaron Miles, Randy Winn and Felipe Lopez? Wouldn't the Cardinals have a much better idea of what to expect in 2011 if La Russa had mixed in more young players like Tyler Greene, Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso? Those are three players who may, or may not, be ready to be productive contributors next year. But we don't really know. They didn't play enough this season. No matter how well those guys play next spring training we still won't know what to expect from them when the season gets started.
I believe the Cardinals would be better off if they went in a new direction with the manager. Tony La Russa is a certain hall of famer. He'll be second all time in total wins in another two seasons. The Cardinals have had a very nice run while he's been here. They were lucky to get him. But it just seems to me that this organization needs a change. They've been to the postseason only once in the last four years, and haven't won a preseason game since 2006. La Russa could probably use a change himself. I'm sure it would re-charge his battery if he were to take over the Mets or the Cubs. Maybe his old Chicago White Sox team. Based on his resume, he deserves a chance to come back with the Cardinals if he so desires. But I think it'd be best for him, and the organization if they were to part ways.
How about this for a possible replacement: Joe Torre as manager, with Mike Matheny as his bench coach. Matheny learns from Torre for a year or two, and then becomes the Cardinals manager in 2013.