Archive for October, 2011

Tony La Russa Retires

Monday, October 31st, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa retired this morning in a press conference at Busch Stadium.  He said he’s been considering the move since the middle of the 2011 season, and wouldn’t specify any one reason for leaving, saying instead that it was a combination of several factors.  However, he was clear that he is not interested in managing another team, or in taking a job as a GM.

Here’s the ESPN story on La Russa’s retirement, with a portion of the press conference video.  If I can find the complete video, I’ll link it here as well.

A couple quick reactions:

  • First of all, despite what the ESPN talking heads like Buster Olney have said, La Russa’s departure almost certainly impacts Albert Pujols’ decision about returning to the Cardinals.  The relationship between La Russa and Pujols has been solid through their time together, and both have talked about their deep respect for one another.  Any uncertainty about who he might be playing for next season would obviously impact Pujols’ contract decisions, and instability in the front office or the clubhouse might make other suitors look much more attractive.  Also, with La Russa gone, Pujols’ decision to leave or stay in St. Louis becomes even less a question of loyalty–if anything, it frees him up from the idea that he’s abandoning a longtime friend and mentor.  Overall, I think La Russa’s retirement makes it much easier for Pujols to leave town.
  • I’ve never been a big La Russa fan, although I did cheer for his Oakland A’s Bash Brothers-era teams (I was in elementary school at the time, don’t hold it against me).  Even within the Cardinals fanbase, he might be one of the most divisive figures in baseball.  Even sportswriters can’t make up their minds about what he is–is he a strategic genius, or a meddling nuisance?  It seemed during the playoffs–and especially the World Series–that the general consensus could change overnight.  For my part, I always leaned heavily toward the meddling nuisance camp.  What say you?
  • While he was clear he’s not interested in managing again, or moving into a GM role with a new team, he was less specific about taking a job somewhere in the MLB.  La Russa and Bud Selig have a good relationship, so don’t be surprised when he takes a Joe Torre-esque position with the league.
  • No word yet if he’ll become the national spokesman for Transitions Lenses.
  • I couldn’t bring myself to watch much of the World Series this year.  I know it was supposedly a classic series–possibly one of the best ever.  But for an avowed Cardinals-hater like me, it was torture.  I couldn’t enjoy the ups and downs of the games–all the dramatic lead swings and the late-inning heroics.  It was just too agonizing to watch the Cards inch closer to another championship.  However, there was one moment from Game 5 that I will treasure for years to come:

 

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VFTB End of Year Survey

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Every year we run a survey that helps us evaluate how we did and make improvements. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. We’d be very grateful.

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GirlieView

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Hope the weekend has been going well for everyone!

Over the last few months I have grown to use this blog as a safe haven. I certainly don’t have time to read or comment every day, but when I do need a break from all the craziness in my life, I find it comforting to read and contribute here. Even all of you with your families, friends, and full-time jobs fit this new family into your busy schedules. And when the Cardinals won the Series this week, I didn’t have to worry about having the news crammed down my throat from my fellow Cubs fans; in fact, it wasn’t even mentioned. We all approached it with the same demeanor, and that’s what I love. We share a special bond here through our love of the baseball in general.

So I guess I just wanted to use this post as a little thank you to all you for making that possible for me. And on that note, let’s get a glimpse of this week at VFTB.

The Wizzies

  • BLPCB…I just threw up in my mouth a little..can we please not mention Les Walrond, or Jae Kuk Ryu this early in the morning?
  • Cheeseburger and Cheesecake Sabathia is due to break down very soon.
  • Get out the mustard, there will be a lot of innings in 2012 to be eaten I fear…(to be shared by the staff)
  • If we want an innings eater, is Bartolo Colon available? If there is eating to be done, I want him on my side…
  • Also, Sabathia apparently is just an eater, in general…
  • Quade moonlighting in St. Louis now?
  • Good god…..if death is not an option….then Duke, Kazmir, or Willis….oof. Slim pickin’s eh?
  • It is sad to think that Carlos Silva could out-pitch anyone on that list. With no mitt…holding a Hebrew National dog.

Top Wizzie Contributors

Buddy-36

Doc Raker-35

Jswanson-32

BLPCB-24

Seymour Butts-21

Doug S.-20

Aaron-17

Jedi-13

Chet-11

Dusty Baylor-10

Eddie Von White-9

Chuck-9

Question of the Week

Yes, I know the World Series just ended, but how do you feel about the offseason moves so far and how much more activity do you expect?

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What Do You Want In the CBA?

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Happy Friday everyone. Here is the discussion question for the day:

With MLB working on negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement, what changes, big or small, would you like to see be included in the finished product?

Here are just a few of mine:

1. Expanding the playoffs to 10 teams

2. Shortening the season to 154 games

3. Home field advantage for the World Series determined by the previous year’s World Series winner. If the NL won last year then they get the advantage this year.

4, Allowing the teams to trade draft picks.

5. Expanding rosters to 40 for the month of April and remaining at 25 through the end of the season beginning May 1.

What are yours?

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Northside Archives: His Own Man?

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We all know the situation, Mike Quade sits with a single year left on his contract. The man who hired him, Jim Hendry, has been gone for more than two months and in his place are Theo Epstien and Jed Hoyer. How long before Quade’s fate is determined?

Historically, when the Cubs have hired a new GM it’s time for the manager to call his favorite moving company.

Cubs’ History
Dallas Green replaced Joe Amalfitano with Lee Elia when he got to town before the 1982 season. In my opinion, Green’s hiring was the first time the Cubs took the GM position seriously (in its modern form) which is why we start here.

Jim Frey was hired as GM after the 1987 season less than two years after being replaced as field manager. Not surprisingly, he immediately brought in long-time friend Don Zimmer as his manager. Gene Michael had already resigned in mid-1987 and Frank Lucchesi had been managing the Cubs on an interim basis.

Larry Himes following the 1991 season, was forced to choose between keeping Jim Essian or hiring his own man. One of Himes’ few correct decisions was then followed by hiring Jim Lefebvre as his manager – he guided the Cubs to back-to-back 4th place finishes.

Ed Lynch replaced Tom Trebelhorn with Jim Riggleman upon being hired as GM. Trebelhorn was hired as bench coach in 1992 and promoted to manager in 1994 (sound familiar?). He managed the team for a single season as Larry Himes delayed the firing squad (sound more familiar?). Riggleman would manage until Lynch was forced to fire him following the 1999 season.

Andy MacPhail assumed the GM duties when Ed Lynch resigned on July 19, 2000. This change was bit different from most in that Don Baylor had been hired as the manager prior to the 2000 season. Because of MacPhail’s unique position with the Cubs it’s easy to anticipate that in fact he was hiring his manager before he even assumed the GM duties – and in the process giving Lynch a last gasp at keeping his job.

Jim Hendry was promoted to GM on July 5, 2002. Don Baylor was fired that same day and replaced on an interim basis by Bruce Kimm. The move to fire Baylor is often attributed to MacPhail as his final act as GM – but regardless, of who officially gave Baylor the pink slip, the fact remains that a new GM brought in his own manager (Dusty Baker) once the season was over.

Similarities to 1994
As the Epstein regime takes shape, it’s hard to ignore the similarities with front office circa 1994. Following the 1994 season the Cubs fired their GM with the team was in shambles both at the MLB level and in the minor leagues. The Cubs went and hired a GM who had spent a decade building an AL franchise into a two-time World Series Champion. But the Cubs hiring required a promotion – at which time the Cubs’ new baseball executive hired his own GM, a longtime friend. MacPhail and Epstein were also “the youngest GM in MLB history” when they were each initially hired, by the Twins and Red Sox respectively.

What Ed Lynch walked into, seems to be very similar to what Jed Hoyer will find upon arrival in Chicago. A baseball lifer who was given a single year to manage a terrible team. Lynch didn’t hesitate to rid himself of Trebelhorn – it took merely 8 days.

Hoyer’s History
However, when Hoyer was hired as GM of the Padres following the 2009 season, Bud Black was the manager of a beleaguered team that was headed nowhere. In 2010, the Padres’ success led to an extension for Black through the 2013 season with options for 2014 and 2015. Hoyer tied his immediate future to Black less than a year into his tenure.

Epstein’s History
When Epstein was hired as GM of the Red Sox following the 2002 season, he also did NOT fire Grady Little. In fact, Little had been hired prior to the 2002 season and guided the Red Sox to 93 wins. Epstein’s arrival in Boston was unique in that the Red Sox fired their GM and hired a new manager prior to a very successful season in 2002 – using an interim GM during the entire 2002 season. But when Little famously bungled the pitching staff in the 2003 playoffs, Epstein moved quickly and replaced him with Terry Francona.

Cubs’ Past & Present
Of the last six GMs the Cubs have had, five of them have immediately hired a new manager. The lone exception, Andy MacPhail, was in a unique situation where he had presided as club President when the manager had been hired merely months before he took on the GM responsibilities.

Cubs’ history points emphatically to Quade’s near certain firing; but the limited history of Epstein and Hoyer don’t necessarily indicate such a change to be immediately forthcoming.

Postscript: This article hit ESPN yesterday. Epstein’s admiration says a lot.

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