Tony La Russa raised a lot of eyebrows last night when he went after Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch for asking about the bullpen. Tony tried to spread the blame around about the Cardinals woes by saying the offense isn't doing enough either in the first two games. It appears it will be a third straight game they haven't produced by the end of the night.
A lot of people seem to think that Tony is oblivious to the biggest problem of this team....the Bullpen. After watching the kabuke theater that is Tony La Russa for 12 years you have to understand that sometimes what is said is not what is meant. Tony of course knows his bullpen isn't producing. He is not a dumb man or all of a sudden forgot how to manage. He knows this all too well.
His actions in Tuesday night's game were the clear message that he has no faith in anyone out there right now. He knows that the bullpen is a complete mess. That is why he is keeping so many relievers around right now so he can pull the quick hook if needed.
Tony was trying to do two things with his tirade (if you want to call it that) last night. First and foremost he is trying to be a heat-shield for his bullpen. He knows they are getting roasted everywhere and he is trying to send the message that he has their backs and this is a team game. That is an admirable trait by any manager or head coach. Second he was sending a message to his offense that no amount of runs is enough. It used to be that a 3 or a 4 fun lead was plenty and they would walk away a win. That is not the case with the 2008 team. Every run is going to be of the utmost importance for this season and they have to play with that mindset.
A stat I learned from Joe Strauss today was the Cardinals have lead more games after 6 innings then any team in baseball this season. That is a shocking stat. It of course tells you that the Cardinals bullpen isn't that good. But the other thing it tells you is that the Cardinals aren't scoring enough in the late innings.
Tony is a very cerebral person. He looks at baseball from a thousand different angles. Sometimes things don't make sense but you can't argue with the results. Tony thinks out all his moves. Last night was no exception. He is a master of the media. That doesn't mean he gets along with everyone or is buddy buddy with every media member. But he does know how to send a message through the media to his players or management. Tony was protecting his players last night. Let's hope he can nurse this team through this stretch somehow and they can stay in the race.