We finally have some resolution to the latest round of the Tony La Russa saga.
The longtime Cardinals manager has signed on for a 16th season. But the way the deal went down, and the firing of bullpen coach Marty Mason, has me concerned that this storied chapter of Redbirds history isn't going to end well.
The firing of Mason, who had been bullpen coach for 13 years and a member of the Cardinals organization for 25 years, was just plain ugly. It reminded me of the way Walt Jocketty was cashiered a few years back. It wasn't about what was best for the team. It was about showing people who was boss.
It wouldn't surprise me if Mason ends up in Cincinnati, spilling the beans to Jocketty and the rest of the coaching staff about the secrets about what makes St. Louis hurlers tick.
If Mason had shortcomings as a coach, it wasn't apparent. The Cardinals pitching staff was the team's strength. And La Russa, pitching coach Dave Duncan and the players gave Mason a lot of credit. He got results on the field. This makes no sense on any level other than Mason was made into an example for his vociferous support of the old school faction of Redbirds management.
The edict that Mason was to be fired had to be an awfully bitter pill for La Russa to swallow. And it certainly explains why it took him so long to come to a decision about his future. I could see if the Cardinals wanted Mark McGwire gone. The team's hitting was atrocious in 2010 -- the only year Big Mac spent on the staff. If La Russa was told McGwire was the coach that had to go, that's understandable. But Mason was a longtime La Russa lieutenant who certainly didn't deserve his fate.
Will that make La Russa and the rest of the Cardinals coaches think twice about bolting after the 2011 season?
The Redbirds have long been known as an organization that did things the right way. They treated people like people, not like cattle or dollar signs. But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore when a guy with 25 years in the organization -- who was doing his job well -- was tossed out on his ear with no warning.
The rift between the pencil pushing stats guys and the old school coaching staff isn't getting any better. And it really concerns me that La Russa and his crew are headed from an ugly divorce from the Cardinals in the near future.
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