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Tony La Russa Retires

Written by , Posted in General

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:

 

  • Seymour Butts

    I know we hate him, I do, but as I’ve pointed out, he wins consistently with crap. HIRE HIM.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Well he consistently wins…but I’d take crap like Pujols, Berkman, Holliday, Molina, Freese, Jay, Carpenter, Garcia, Jackson, and Motte.

  • Seymour Butts

    Here is a home work assignment for those of you connected enough to answer the question. Big Z has apparently signed a contract to pitch in Venezuela. Does this have implications for his Cubs contract?
    And aside from Pujols and one of the pitchers, the rest are crap (though Freeze had a good series, I’m told).

  • Dusty Baylor

    Berkman is crap, Molina is crap, Holiday is crap?
    Ok..I don’t like the Cardinals, but really?

  • Katie

    He found a way to be successful, even if he was a meddling nuisance.
    I would not be opposed to taking the “crap” off St. Louis’ hands (especially if they’d exchange some of theirs for some of ours).

  • chris in illinois

    Balls!…..was my security word. Lohse had a 3.39 era. Not crap. Berkman was 4th in the NL in offensive WAR. They weren’t a super-power, but that only emphasizes the fact that the playoffs are largely a matter of getting hot at the right time.

  • Doc Raker

    Like him or not Transition Tony get’s the most out of his players or he gets rid of them. That is really the key, when a player gives you good numbers but has a character flaw that holds him back from reaching his potential. I know as Cub fans we have a few players that we wish the organization had that kind of forsight on. Transition Tony seems to have an ability to recognize these flawed players and get rid of them. I do agree this makes it easier for Pujol’s to leave town. Transition Tony is another great Italian manager like him or not, maybe the White Sox should of kept him around.

  • Seymour Butts

    Berkman had an uncharacteristically good year, not what was expected when he signed. Molina…crap. Holiday…big contract, and crap.
    Tony gets shinola from stuff you don’t expect to shine.
    Anyone notice the rotten luck Fontenot and Theriot have had since being dealt?

  • Doc Raker

    The Canjun duo can compare WS rings.

  • mrbig

    you guys are all proving Seymour’s point. Alot of Cardinal players become great in La Russa’s system, get a decent sized contract when they leave the Cardinals, and end up being horrible players.

  • And beginner mullets.

  • Doc Raker

    I agree Mr Big, LaRussa knows how to get the best out of his players. Compare that to Dusty Baker getting the worst out of his. Compare that to Dusty Bakerillo who always gets the best out of his players, another great Italian manager.

  • Jedi

    Eh, I think the player results are more mixed…for every So Taguchi, there is a Colby Rasmus. The Cards may eventually regret trading a guy who had a personality clash with an outgoing manager (granted, a title helps – but it’s not easy to find young talent as we all know, and they basically traded him for an Edwin Jackson rental). All that to say, for as many guys who succeeded as “Tony’s guys” – there are talented players who aren’t keen on the way manages either (something that’s probably true of most every manager).

    Also, the “he gets more from his players” argument with LaRussa is stronger among pitchers, and that has as much to do with Dave Duncan as it does Tony (like Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone).

  • Eddie Von White

    I would say that if you like winning, and Tony LaRussa is your manager, you better do things his way and keep your mouth shut. Too bad for those guys who got shipped out. We probably would have avoided the whole Zambrano fiasco if LaRussa had been at the helm.

    As a side note, I doubt he would be retiring now if he hadn’t gotten the Shingles. I hear that when you get them at his age, you never get over them – they just drag you down.

  • Doc Raker

    Do the Cards win with Colby Rasmus? Will Rasmus reach his true potential? The fact that Transition Tony let him go tells me no. I do agree Dave Duncan is a big a part of the pitchers success which goes back to Transitions for having a philosophy that works and keeping like minded people around him.
    * Shingles can be very painful and stress can exacerbate them. Not as painful as watching Transitions Tony make 4 pitching changes in a half inning but painful none the less. I didn’t know he was suffering from shingles, retiring to reduce stress makes sense then.

  • Seymour Butts

    AAAron Miles.

  • Doc Raker

    AAAAron Miles has always been more of a 4A player to me. Can you believe Miles is still in the league, the guy played for the Dodgers. He would fit in at Randy’s camp pretty well.

  • I would be offended if (A)AAAron beats me to Randy’s Rumble. Maybe he and I can have a makeshift home run derby for dinner w/ Seymour in 2013. I like my odds. I too like my odds of winning a makeshift dinner w/ Seymour derby, by not ordering a garden salad, dry.

  • Doc Raker

    Great idea, let’s have a home run derby. Winner gets dinner with Seymour, second place gets breakfast, lunch and dinner with Seymour, the loser has to eat every meal with Seymour the entire weekend. I hope the contestants like Subway.

  • lizzie

    Now Doc you know Seymour well enough to know he’s not eating three meals per day of processed mystery on a carb.

  • Seymour Butts

    Love me those $5 footlongs.

  • BLPCB

    There is nothing wrong with transition lenses. They are great for lifeguarding outdoors.