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La Russa's coming back, Mason isn't

The Cardinals have announced that manager Tony La Russa has agreed to a one-year contract to come back to St. Louis and manage the Redbirds for a 16th season.

But longtime coach Marty Mason, who has spent the past several seasons as the major league bullpen coach after a stint as the Cardinals' Class AAA pitching coach, won't be asked back.

I guess the Redbirds front office cares less about the fact tha Mason is known across baseball as a pitching mechanic guru than they do about sacrificing a member of the big league clique to appease the draftniks.

With pitching coach Dave Duncan's statement that he only plans to coach for three more years, it would seem like Mason was the guy who was being groomed to take over in 2013.

The fact that La Russa accepted another one-year contract means that the Cardinals will spend at least one more off-season in limbo as the skipper agonizes whether to come back and lead the club for another season. At least they won't have to fight about the money in 2012, however. The deal reportedly has a mutual option for that season.

The Cardinals' statement about La Russa's return noted that all of the other coaches -- including hitting coach Mark McGwire -- have been offered contracts for next year. McGwire has said he doesn't know if he wants to return because his wife gave birth to triplets last season and he thinks he may be needed around the house more than in the dugout.