Tony LaRussa retires—Hello Joe Maddon?

Before expressing my first thought on Tony LaRussa announcing his retirement, I want to thank TLR on a great season, and bringing the Cardinals their 11th World Series Championship.  My first thought was WOW, what a way to go out.  I would have never thought that LaRussa would have retired just 35 wins short of passing John McGraw, that’s why I think Tony will be managing again soon.  I don’t think the biggest thing in Tony coming back to another team will be to catch McGraw, although that will play a factor.  I think the biggest thing that will pull Tony back is how many teams will be willing to hire him, and the need to scratch that itch.  Tony will wait for a team that has most of the right pieces in place, and will be back.  No, he won’t damage his reputation in St. Louis by going to the Cubs.  

I have to say that I think this move might ensure that Albert Pujols isn’t coming back.  I really don’t think Tony would have retired if he felt Pujols was coming back.  Maybe one has nothing to do with the other, who knows.  The one thing that is going to be attractive to the manager that replaces Tony is going to be the presence of Dave Duncan.  Duncan is inked through 2012.

Apparently, John Mozeliak has kept a list of manager candidates for about the last three years.  Mo wants a manager in place before the list of GM meetings in two weeks, but said Thanksgiving might be a more realistic target date.  Mo also said that having been a major league manager was not a prerequisite, but would weigh in the candidate’s favor.

I really hope that Mozeliak doesn’t go off and hire someone who hasn’t been a manager in the game before.  I wish Mike Scioscia was available, or Ron Gardenhire.  I think the most likely and my most hopeful is Joe Maddon, who has one year left on his deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.  That would be a great signing IMO, just look at what Maddon has done in the toughest division in MLB, the AL East.  He’s done it with pitching, speed and defense and a payroll that is nowhere close to the Red Sox and Yankees.  In fact, the 2011 Rays payroll was lower than every team in MLB except for the Kansas City Royals, and the Rays won the AL Wild Card.  In 2010, the Rays won the AL East with a payroll that was the 19th highest in MLB.  Again in 2008, when Maddon took the Rays to the World Series, his team’s payroll was 29th out of 30 teams, only ahead of the Florida Marlins that year. Maddon also grew up a Cardinals fan.   Here’s a link to teams payrolls going back to 1998.  In 2008 and 2011, Maddon’s Rays had a payroll of around $41 million.  What could Maddon do with another $60-70 million?

The Cardinals have a bright future.  The Cardinals have a bright future as long as they don’t kill the payroll by re-signing Pujols.  The first thing I would hope that Tony’s replacement would come in and say is that he believes the Cards can win without AP, and in fact, it would give them a better chance going forward in the long run.  Yes, I think Pujols would give the Cards the better chance to win over the next 2-3 years, but he’s aging, and his WAR has dropped from 9.7 to 5.1 in 3 years.  Pujols for the long run is not the answer.  I’ll be getting more into that in the next few days, and provide a lot of data to back up my thoughts for those that think it’s all personal hate for Pujols.

Getting back to TLR, in no way do I think that Tony LaRussa has managed his last game.  He may take a year off, he may take 5 years off, but I doubt it.  Tony LaRussa will be back managing in MLB, it just won’t be with the Cardinals.  The Cardinals will go on, and like managers before LaRussa, they will win without him.  I do want to congratulate TLR on his remarkable run this year again.  Tony managed with a different style in the playoffs, and let the players play loose.  I would have liked to have seen that with the 2000-2002 teams, but hey, 2 World Series Championships in 2006 and 2011 make up for it.

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4 Responses to Tony LaRussa retires—Hello Joe Maddon?

  1. WainwrightandMiller says:


    You nailed it today!!! Joe Maddon is the perfect replacement for the future. He won’t run out the young talent, and will get a play with more money. I think he’s the one that’s first on JM’s list!!! Good things. Next in line, keep Pujols far away from a big contract offer. JUST SAY NO TO PUJOLS!!!

  2. TLRHOF says:

    This must be the best day in both of your pathtic lives. I am surprised you gave TLR any love at all. I think you’re both going to be sorry and thinking back in about 5 years or so and long for the days when TLR was around.

  3. jstone says:


    I’ve known you for a long time my man, and I agree with the above post — I am shocked you gave TLR any love at all. You can try to convince me that it’s not about a personal dislike for him, but I don’t think it will work. If you cherry pick stats, I’m sure you can come up with some way to show how he sucks as a manager. The only stat I’m concerned with is this: Sixteen seasons, nine playoff appearances, seven divisional series victories, three National League Championships, and two World Series titles. End of story — the Cardinals are a storied franchise with a tremendous track record of success stretching back over 100 years. And of all those years, the last sixteen are the most successful stretch of 16 seasons in club history. Watching Tony manage the last two months — the extraordinary decisions he made that won us games — wow — it was an incredible blessing to have him as our manager. Through good calls and bad, I LOVED watching him make the moves he made. Hands down, the finest manager of my lifetime — and maybe the finest in the history of the game.

    Maddon would be a stellar replacement, but the Rays would probably want Shelby Miller plus more to give him to us…that isn’t going to happen. My vote is for Oquendo, but I’ll trust whatever move Mo makes. The moves he makes have proven to be pretty darn good up to this point, so I’ll trust him no matter who he selects.

    I want Pujols back — if it makes sense. If it doesn’t, he can walk with no hard feelings. But I totally disagree with your rant about the hit and run call. As a coach myself, I completely get that we as coaches have athletes for whom tremendous responsibility lies. Last year a senior boy on my team was for all intents and purposes an assistant coach. He was always free to try whatever he wanted to try, and do whatever he wanted to do that he felt helped the team. He could alter race strategy, pick what races he wanted to run at certain meets, etc. He had earned that right, and I gave it to him with pride. Pujols is the greatest (honest non-cheating) player of a generation, and ranks among the most complete baseball players in the history of the game. If he thinks it’s a good idea to call a hit and run, call it. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll get ‘em next time. I salute Tony for having the courage to put that responsibility in Albert’s hands, and refute the naysayers who continue to argue that Pujols shouldn’t have his own set of rules. Anyone who would contend that has never coached high level athletes before…


    • JD says:


      Let me start off by saying that re-signing Pujols is not going to make sense, in any way. If it’s $22 per year, it’s too much. Even if he comes down to 8 years on his demands, which I doubt, it’s a mistake. Cards will be paying for past performance, and that’s it. I think he may have 3-4 years left in him with stats like 2011, but you don’t pay someone $25 million a year or more for those. No to Pujols. He’ll be 32 in January, and since we agree he’s not on the juice, he won’t perform well in his late 30′s, just as baseball players didn’t in years past.

      My TLR hate isn’t as deep as you ever thought it was, I think he’s pretty good, but did some stupid shit along the way. And no, I don’t like giving the green light to Pujols or anyone else for that matter. I hate any player swinging at 3-0 counts, and while I’m seeing that more around baseball, I just despise it. I want Maddon because he’s done so much with so little in the AL East, but I also trust Mo to make the right decision. Good hearing from you. I think I may have run off some of my readers with my decision making on topics, but so be it. You also know that I’m happy as a pig in shit about the Cards winning it all, as you are, and that’s all that matters.

      One more thing, I doubt we ever see again, in our lifetime, a situation in baseball were dominant, by that I mean strikeout, starting pitching not be the dominant factor in the end. This year was crazy, and we came out on top.

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