Why Did La Russa Stay In St. Louis?
There’s something to be said for being comfortable in one’s surroundings, but with the stories about the Cardinals that are popping up and how the upper management is in constant disagreement and completely disregards manager Tony La Russa’s personnel suggestions, one has to wonder why La Russa didn’t cut the ties when he was a free agent after last season.
The Cardinals front office and manager don’t appear to be—-in the words of the Moneyball legend Paul DePodesta—-"on the same page". It’s understandable why the front office rejected La Russa’s Barry Bonds suggestion for a myriad of reasons, but there seems to be a disconnect between ownership and some of the staff that wants to go in the Moneyball direction (the Billy Beane Moneyball, not any of the other teams that have used the strategies and failed miserably), while La Russa, GM John Mozeliak and former GM Walt Jocketty wanted to conduct their business in the same way they always have. The idea that La Russa has any power remaining in the organization is rapidly declining. The Cardinals dumped Scott Rolen, but that probably had more to do with his contract and injuries than any fissure between Rolen and La Russa.
There were potential job openings last fall that La Russa would have been perfect for. He could have gone to the Mariners, the Orioles, the Reds, the Dodgers or even the Yankees. If he truly wanted to find the perfect job for himself, he could have sat out the beginning of the season and waited for the shoe to drop on such names on the firing line as Ned Yost with the Brewers, Ozzie Guillen with the White Sox or Willie Randolph with the Mets. Any of these teams have a better chance to win this season than the Cardinals do judging by their roster.
At his age, La Russa probably doesn’t want to have to go to another organization in another town and start all over again; and with two championships in his pocket and a spot in the Hall of Fame assured, perhaps there’s a part of La Russa that wants to challenge himself and see how far he can take a team with such limited talent, but does he need the aggravation and the castrating tendency of a Moneyball based system? Of having his suggestions dismissed out of hand with no regard for his opinion one way or the other? I can see a young manager putting up with such **** to go along and get along, but La Russa doesn’t have to take it, so why would he choose to?