Contrary to earlier reports, the contract that manager Tony La Russa agreed to with the Cardinals is only for one season.
Both GM John Mozeliak and La Russa insist that there is no red flag from the fact that the manager didn't sign a long-term deal. They said La Russa and management have had a standing agreement that either one of them could walk away from the deal at any time with no consequences.
Typically, coaches in high stakes sports don't like to be a lame duck. But when you're third on the all-time wins list and have been with the same club for 15 years, it would seem that the typical question marks don't apply.
La Russa seemed much more up beat and positive today than he did two years ago when he announced that he was coming back to the Cardinals to manage in 2008 and 2009. He joked with the media and seemed enthused this time around. It seemed to me back then that he spoke in measured terms and had his doubts about the direction of the club.
After the press conference Monday he spoke with former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny about the hiring of Mark McGwire as hitting coach and host Pat Parris interjected to ask if Matheny might someday soon join McGwire as a coach.
"He's got a standing invite," La Russa quipped. "We'll fire anybody (to open a job) except for Dunc."
Mozeliak said the Cardinals are prepared for an initial media circus surrounding McGwire because of his testimony in front of Congress. But the team hopes Mac will hit the questions head on and then be able to put the situation behind him.
There was no significance behind the face that McGwire wasn't at the press conference to announce he had been hired as hitting coach, Mozeliak said. The GM pointed out none of the other coaches who were being retained by the Cardinals were on hand...
I will be interested to hear from McGwire what his plans for the job are and see how he handles the scrutiny. But it will certainly be in his best interest to run the gauntlet.
McGwire's Hall of Fame bid has failed to gain any momentum. He knows that being back in the public eye with a chance to rehab his image could be the thing that makes or breaks his case with voters.
With La Russa nearing the end of the line, this could be McGwire's one and only shot to get back in baseball and make things right.
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