Since Tony La Russa took the job vacated by Joe Torre as the St. Louis Cardinals manager in 1996, it has been rather apparent he enjoys depth and moving the players through the organization at a steady pace. Obviously many are brought on from the myriad of injuries that may exist during the season, but Tony likes to make sure the entire organization stays moving it seems.
For people to complain the team is lacking depth is a joke….offensively that is. The bullpen and defense is a whole other story in and of itself right now. The last few seasons there was no doubt in my mind going into the season that the Cardinals lineup was the best in the Central. This season was my strongest feeling of that sentiment.
Tony has of course had some success as the Cardinals skipper. He took the club to NLCS his first season with the club. They had a great run but the defending champion Braves miraculous run cut them down in Game 7 to send Atlanta to the World Series to lose to the Yankees, managed by Joe Torre oddly enough (oh how fantastic of a showdown would the Yanks and Cards been).
They then missed the postseason until 2000, at which point they made the playoffs from 2000-2006 (only missing the 2003 postseason). Tony of course won his one and only Cardinals championship in 2006, taking the 83-78 Cardinals to defeat the Tigers 4-1 in the series and become the World Series Champs with the second-lowest regular season record ever (1973 New York Mets).
Since then it has been a whole other story all together.
The Cardinals have made the playoffs one time in 2009 and thus dropped the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 3-0 sweep and people are quickly beginning to question his authority.
@tmisra1 was the first to send such concern to our Twitter (@redbird_rants). Simply phrased, he put “Does Tony LaRussa need to stay or go?” Retweeting this to the site I realized the strong sentiment left from Cardinal Nation. To read the entire conversation, feel free to scroll down the page.
I almost felt a 50-50 split regarding the issue via the Twitter page, the real reaction from the fans may be a little more decidedly different. There were many very reasonable questions and it makes even the most loyal fan begin to question his stance.
There really is a fine line between the fault of the coach to the players and then the front office staff. The front office and mainly Cardinals GM John Mozeliak have taken a lot of heat regarding the Albert Pujols situation. Walt Jocketty left the Cardinals after the 2006 season and (much to the chagrin of St. Louis) went on to become the General Manager to the 2010 NL Central Champion Cincinnati Reds. Jocketty was a fan favorite in St. Louis and Mozeliak quickly became the enemy when that success factor took a steep drop.
The players of course play a huge role in this as well. Tony is not the one making them commit the 47 errors they enjoy to this day. They rank 24 out of 30 in total team errors and the Error Crown goes to Ryan Theriot with 13 errors to this point, usual Gold Glove front runner Pujols has 6 (You can view the entire list HERE).
Also, I want to note I always figured Mark McGwire was going to be an awful hitting coach. He was only known for home run hitting as a player and never did I feel that would transition to the teams batting average. They may have had quite the success this year so far thanks to the best outfield core in the league, but for future batting I am not sure this is the guy that needs to develop ground ball hitters.
How about Dave Duncan for that matter? Long has he been heralded as the pitching coach who could bring anyone back from obscurity. This season the pitching is looking pretty rocky and having trouble with adjusting. They have the older members of the staff not performing incredibly well while the younger members are having the most success, while having their moments as well.
So what is it? Is Tony to blame? Mozeliak and the front office? How about all of the above.
The Cardinals play up to the heavy hitting roster one day and then like they are not even fit to live up to play Single A ball the next.
In a baseball city where performance is almost expected, it can be hard to meet up to the fans sometimes nearly impossible goals every time.
At times the moves we make to the roster has Tony and his staff look like geniuses, look at Lance Berkman, who would have thought he still had that in him. They must also account for the many failures that happen within the lineup too and I think that is where most of this frustration is coming from.
The question I want to ask, “Should Tony La Russa remain the Cardinals manager?”TLR is no doubt a Hall of Fame act, but is he still the manager of choice in St. Louis or is it maybe time to begin looking elsewhere?