The Cardinals' first order of business, now that the season is over, is for the team to determine if manager Tony La Russa is coming back for the 2011 season.
As has been the case over the last two or three years, La Russa continues to play it coy. He won't say that he's leaning toward coming back to avenge a lost season or if he's content to ride off into the sunset and retire. And that's fine... To an extent.
The Cardinals need to know if they're going to be looking for a skipper. And the market is hot right now. The Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Braves, Mets and possibly the Yankees will be looking for a new leader this off-season. The Diamondbacks have reportedly taken the interim out of Kirk Gibson's title. But the Birds don't want to get caught coming late to that game of managerial musical chairs.
La Russa needs to make up his mind. And if he decides to come back, he needs to sign more than a one-year contract. Having a lame duck for a manager doesn't work well for multi-million-dollar athletes. And, besides, the Cardinals don't need the annual La Russa watch to turn into a lower profile version of the yearly Brett Farve saga. It's not good planning to enter a season not knowing about the contents of your core.
I hope La Russa makes up his mind this week.