I hope manager Tony La Russa comes back in 2011 -- and I hope he brings
pitching coach Dave Duncan back with him.
But this whole thing about La Russa not being able to make up his mind about if
he wants to grace us with his presence in the future is starting to get on my
If I am General Manager John Mozeliak and I tell La Russa that I’d like to have him
back in 2011 and beyond -- basically that he can manage in St. Louis for as long
as he wants to -- and he says I’ll get back to you about that, I’m not happy.
If he isn’t 100 percent sure that he wants to be here, I’m pretty sure that he isn’t
the guy I’d want for the job.
La Russa is one of the best paid managers in the game, making more than $4 million
a season. He’s in a place where he has a chance to win every year and to pad his
considerable career win total. I just don’t get what there is to think about.
So stop being coy and make up your mind Tony. Then the team can get started with the business of rebuilding the roster.
This may be wishful thinking. But is the fact that the Cardinals haven’t already
exercised Albert Pujols’ 2011 option a sign that a deal might be more imminent
than the sides let on?
The team has a couple of weeks to make a move. But why wait... unless Pujols’ new
deal will be in place before the deadline to pick it up?
It shouldn’t be that complicated. The bar was set when the Phillies gave Ryan
Howard a five-year, $25-million extension during the season. Offer Pujols five years
and $28-$30 million a season with a vesting option or two and get this deal done.
If something can’t be worked out -- like if Pujols wants to break the bank with
demands of $300 million over 10 years -- the Redbirds need to know now so they
can consider their options. Which include trading baseball’s best player while they
can still get something for him.
Yes, Pujols has full no-trade protection now that he’s a 10-year veteran with at least
five years on the same team. But that doesn’t mean a deal couldn’t be worked out
if it has to happen.
I’m a little bit surprised that the Cardinals plan to pursue a middle of the rotation
starter. But that seems to be what the are doing so far -- with Plan A being to bring
back Jake Westbrook.
Westbrook has said publicly that he’s interested in the idea. But I wonder how much
of a pay cut he’s willing to take if he comes back. He made $11 million in 2010, and
I think he’ll be fortunate if the Birds can afford to pay more than about $14 million over
two seasons to bring him back.
Keep in mind that Chris Carpenter will be back next season at $15 million, Kyle Lohse
will get a bump from his $8.75 million in 2010 to $11.875 million in 2011 and Adam Wainwright will see a pay hike from $4.65 million in 2010 to $6.5 million in 2011.
Including Jaime Garcia, the team will have about $41 million of it’s projected $95
million payroll committed to the starting rotation.
I’m all about having as much pitching as possible. But I thought there would be a
strong likelihood that the team would pencil Kyle McClellan into the fifth spot of the
rotation and look to improve other areas.
It looks like if there is a Pujols extension or not, the Cardinals are going to have to
increase the payroll to keep Westbrook. Otherwise, there’s not going to be anything
left to improve the offense. And that is job one.