Cheap Seats

La Russa's indecision, Pujols' next contract and Westbrook's next stop

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

nerves.





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.



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