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Rumor Mill: The skipper search

It look like the Cardinals don't plan to make a play for current Rays skipper Joe Maddon as they start the process to replace the recently retired future Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.

Word out of the bay area is that Maddon is working on a contract extension with Tampa and that the Redbirds haven't even called them about their vacant field boss job.

Although he seems like he's a little bit more of a laid back guy, Maddon's managerial style in terms of how he deploys his players is a lot like La Russa's. He uses everybody often. And that could be a good thing with the way the Cardinals are built, a mix of aging veterans like Lance Berkman and emerging young players like Allen Craig and most of the bullpen.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona seems to be the only person on the Cardinals short list who has managerial experience. The rest of the group is made up of minor league manager and lifetime Cub Ryne Sandberg and a crew of people already in the St. Louis system who range from third base coach Jose Oquendo to former Cardinals catcher and current spring training special assistant Mike Matheny.

I am very worried about the prospect of the Redbirds hiring a weak manager. In the wake of the 2006 World Series the number crunchers staged a revolution that resulted in the firing of popular general manager Walt Jocketty and led to the Edmonds/Pujols/Rolen era being replaced by the people who brought you Colby Rasmus, Tyler Greene and Anthony Reyes.

It was all going down hill until La Russa flexed his muscle within the organization and the spread sheet darlings were replaced by players the manager called "gritty" and "winners." The result was the club's 11th World Series championship. So, if a young and weak manager is brought it, who is going to stand up and stop the madness a second time?

With what is in front of us, I suppose I am rooting for Francona. There are some things that happened in Boston that greatly disturb me. But Francona has to get credit for his two rings. I think the Cardinals front office will feel more compelled to invest in a winner if they have an established manager who has expectations of being able to compete.

As I have said before, if Jose Oquendo is the choice, I will be okay with it. Especially because of his relationship with the players -- especially Albert Pujols. But it's awfully tough to be the boss after you've been one of the boys for a long time. Guys like Mike Matheny are intriguing possibilities. But Matheny has zero managerial experience. If he wants to be a major league manager, he needs to pay his dues as a coach or a minor league skipper.

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