by Michael Riehn
Inside Pulse’s Question:
Is it time to let Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan walk?
Each year, more people begin to ask this question. It’s gotten to the point where other teams are waiting to announce staff changes until the Cardinals to; rumor had it the Reds were waiting to announce Dick Pole’s replacement until the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs, in case they could get Duncan. It was also rumored that they’d have no problem dismissing Dusty Baker if Tony LaRussa was available.
LaRussa is a hall of famer; Duncan is the highest paid pitching coach in baseball. Both are great for the team; both also have faults.
Whiteyball Comment (Michael Riehn):I think there is one simple way to answer this question: Who has proven to be a better manager and pitching coach (that the Cardinals could go out and get) that would replace La Russa and Duncan? I don’t see anyone that has proven to be better.
The popular answer is Oquendo, but why? Does anyone have any insight into his managing of the Puerto Rican team that gives them confidence in his abilities? We know he has not shown the greatest media abilities (see the Joel Pineiro situation). His language skills have improved, but I don’t see him spinning yarns ala Whitey Herzog.
He has been schooled by La Russa and Herzog. He’s not going to be much different than them. Why do we think he will (in his first managing job) buck the industry trends for more new age thinking (La Russa is still on the leading edge of this). Why do we want to give up one of the best third base coaches in the business (we’d have to replace him) and give him less time to spend with the infielders? (Oquendo hasn’t exactly been on the fast track to manage)
Successful managers (Joe Maddon?) are signed to their teams for long term deals or wouldn’t want to leave their current situation.
For all their foibles, we often time forget La Russa/ Duncan’s many strengths (veteran pitchers, keeping bench players active and starters fresh, protecting players, keeping everyone playing hard, respect from players, etc.). They aren’t great with bad bullpens or young pitchers (though they HAVE developed some), but they also build character in their young players (you may call it the doghouse, I call it letting them prove themselves). We seldom see a La Russa player dogging it.
La Russa may be the best manager in the business for Brendan Ryan (he’s more serious and dedicated) and Colby Rasmus seems to have checked his cockiness into a more “quite confidence” tone. You earn your loyalty with his regime and he will return it in spades.
Change for change sake is almost never a good idea. If we are going to replace them, we need a solid reason for doing so. I haven’t seen this reasoning yet, and La Russa/ Duncan have proven to be successful (even with their admitted quirks).