As reaction to the retirement of longtime manager Tony La Russa pours in, general manager John Mozeliak is already looking at his potential replacement options to fill the void atop the Cardinals’ coaching staff. Regardless of Albert Pujols’ free agency decision, it’s a position set up for success in 2012.
The Cardinals have not been particular vocal about whom they might pursue for the job, but John Mozeliak does have a list of possible successors in mind. Obviously, this list is subject to change as new candidates arise and others are crossed off moving forward. No indication has been given as to the timetable for a hiring.
With that said, there are several names being thrown around out there. Some seem to be a good fit in theory, but as enticing as you might think this position is, there are many factors that go into a manager’s decision making.
One of the first names being mentioned is former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona. As a Red Sox fan, this would be a dream come true for me. Aside from that, it would actually make sense. Francona is too good a manager to not be in a big league dugout next season, and given the fact that he’s handled the bright spotlight in Boston, coming in and managing the World Series champions would allow him to pick back up right where he left off with a legitimate contender.
On the other hand, Mozeliak has not ruled out the possibility of promotion from within. In that case, pitching coach Dave Duncan, hitting coach Mark McGwire, and third base coach Jose Oquendo would appear to be in the running. However, Duncan is dealing with his wife’s serious medical conditions and McGwire doesn’t seem ready to lead this team, so Oquendo seems to have the best shot. He’s beloved in St. Louis and has interviewed for managing jobs before.
Names like Terry Pendleton (Braves 1st base coach), Joe Maddon (Rays manager), and Chris Maloney (Triple-A Memphis manager) have also been thrown out there. Pendleton certainly has the St. Louis connection, Maddon would require significant compensation to take from Tampa Bay, and Maloney would have to make a difficult leap from the minors to the big leagues.
At this point, the race is wide open. John Mozeliak has said that prior managing experience is desired, and he has not ruled out contacting other teams about their managers. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.