Once again the disagreement and disconnection between the Cardinals front office and the bench has boiled to the top with the skipper's announcement that he considers Ryan Franklin to be the frontrunner for the closer's job.
To recap, manager Tony La Russa told the press over the winter that more than anything he thought the Redbirds needed to sign Brian Fuentes to come in and be an experienced closer. The Cardinals made an awkward and insufficient overture to Fuentez and then GM John Mozeliak announced that he preferred one of the team's youngsters -- Chris Perez or Jason Motte -- be the closer in 2009. On Sunday, La Russa said he thinks he'd prefer to use Ryan Franklin as the closer instead.
Considering the fact that Franklin was terrible last season, I wonder if he's really the best man for the job or if this is La Russa's way of saying that the front office can't dictate to him how he uses his players.
Franklin has looked pretty good so far this spring. But, if the idea is to go with the kids, why not go with the kids? At this time next year, the Cardinals are going to be no closer to a longterm solution to filling the closer's spot if they don't throw Perez or Motte into the mix.
Then again, I can't blame the manager for asserting his authority. La Russa made it clear to the Cardinals when he signed his current contract that he didn't have many years left on the bench and that he wanted to be in a position to win now, not later. Besides a few hollow promises, the Cardinals have done little to try to keep their end of the deal.
Ownership had to expect conflict when it hired a manager who wants to win now and a GM whose favorite word is "patience."