15 free agent and trade near-misses that would've changed Cardinals history

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Terry Francona, 2011

After the 2011 World Series win, Tony La Russa retired from being the Cardinals' manager, creating perhaps the hottest job in years for managers to interview for.

Being a manager for the Cardinals, especially when you get to inherit a team ready to win more World Series, should be any manager's dream. That is exactly why Terry Francona interviewed for the job, but the Cardinals decided to hire Mike Matheny instead.

Francona had already won two World Series as the manager of the Red Sox, proving to be the kind of manager that could replace La Russa. Matheny had no managing experience. Matheny would go on to manage the Cardinals for seven years with a 591-474 record, one World Series appearance, and losing in the NLCS twice. He was fired midway through the 2018 season when the Cardinals had a 47-46 record and missed the playoffs the two seasons prior.

Francona, on the other hand, became the Cleveland manager in 2013, posting a winning season every year except 2021 despite having top players like Francisco Lindor traded away from his team. He led them to Game 7 of the World Series in 2016 against the Chicago Cubs.

Francona is universally viewed as one of the game's best managers, and not only may he have helped the club win more World Series from 2012-2016, but he also may have helped this current Cardinals team scrap more wins until the front office fixes their rotation.