Fool’s Friday: Manager Wheel of Fortune

by on November 4, 2011 · 5 comments

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25:  Manager Tony La Ru...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Just when we thought the crazy part of the baseball year was over, St. Louis now has to fill two very large holes barely a week after celebrating WS Title #11. And for the first time, the thought of not having TLR scowling from the dugout still is hard to imagine.

After the final out of Game 7, the last thing most Cardinal fans expected to break them out of their party mood was this announcement. It seriously took a few days to try and picture just how different the 2012 team will look without LaRussa and honestly, that could be the best compliment for the surefire HOF skipper.

This decision was made before the magical two months, and that should help ease the transition a little…if anyone agreed on his successor.

Like most seasoned (read: addicted) followers of the Birds on the Bat, everyone has thought who would make a good replacement the last 5-10 years. Ever since winning in 2006, it appeared St. Louis was preparing to move on but only on TLR’s schedule. Now that the time is here, Cards’ GM John Mozeliak gets to put his stamp on what shapes up to be the biggest few months in recent memory.

Candidates span just about every facet of the game, and the process is already in full swing. Given that taking over a team that wins it all rarely happens, the pieces are in place for a different kind of introduction. No matter who gets the job, the pressure to win may very well be greater on the Missouri side of the I-55.

St. Louis needs a strong face to lead the organization on the field, but no one can step right into LaRussa’s shoes. This makes it hard to see either Jose Oquendo or Joe Pettini man the position for next season given they only know the TLR way. Both need experience on another staff before elevating to the top spot in my opinion.

While the Cardinals could also take the White Sox model and promote a former player with no managing experience, it makes much more sense to look at what happened last winter. Derek Lilliquist worked his way through the system before making it to St. Louis and stepped in admirably for Dunc when needed this summer.

One candidate sets himself apart from the rest given how the current roster is designed. Especially with a number of big-time financial decisions to be made, the next manager needs to have an intimate relationship with the minor league system already in place. Ryno and Tito are certainly bigger names, but Chris Maloney must be the choice no matter who mans first base in April.

It remains to be seen how long the process will continue, and one or two surprise interviews may be in the mix. As far as this corner of PH8 is concerned, the favorite has already stated his case. Look no further than over half of the 40-man roster to see how many of the important pieces graduated from Memphis.

The time is now to see how much has passed on from teacher to student and at least this time the best candidate already knows the Cardinal way.

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Loyal to a fault, I was taught to never give up on your team. The Cardinals have much to look forward to in '13, and my family has already planned a number of trips to Springfield and even farther up the I-44. This year will start and end with #6, however, as St. Louis will have an extra fan watching from above - RIP Stan the Man
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{ 5 comments }

These American Servers November 6, 2011

Dude, I personally would like to see my all-time fave player, #1,get the gig, and failing that, #51( Willie McGee). But I have no idea if any of them would be interested. Is Whitey Herzog available? But of all the candidates that it might be, I vote for Jose Oquendo. He DESERVES it more than anybody, and unless there’s a good reason not to, he should get it. I wouldn’t want Ryne Stankturd in a Cards uni EVER, but I got to admit that Chris Maloney is an interesting idea. Get ready for a repeat in 2012!

PH8 November 8, 2011

What says that Oquendo DESERVES it?

What makes Sandberg not?

Wins and losses, my friend – that’s all that matters.

PH8 November 8, 2011

Sorry Josh, just can’t see Maloney in the position, much less the favorite.

Obviously, MLB GM’s aren’t prone to caring much what I think, but the Maloney interview just seems a courtesy to me. ‘Course I thought the same about Matheny, and some are now touting him as the favorite.

Maybe Mozeliak doesn’t want Kenny Williams to have the market cornered on unexpected and/or unconventional managerial hires?

Josh November 8, 2011

Nick, the GM’s may not appreciate your opinion, but it certainly got me thinking. My biggest fear is that Francona is already ‘the’ guy and the interview process is just a formality.

Cutting ties with some of the coaching staff is a real possibility then, unless Oquendo is really loyal to the Cardinals. Maloney may very well end up on the staff, but I can see how putting him in the big chair right after TLR could end badly.

I am left wondering when we look back at this time in two years — is it the guy after the guy who is getting St. Louis back in the hunt?

PH8 November 8, 2011

I think there’s bound to be some shake-up in the coaching staff regardless, and I certainly wouldn’t bet AGAINST having another manager search within the next five years. Hope not, but you never know with these things…not a lot of TLR’s running around out there to solidify the position for a decade or more.

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