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Cardinals finally meet with Francona

The Cardinals are still going in several different directions when it comes to choosing a new manager to replace recently retired skipper Tony La Russa.

Former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona finally got his interview with the team Tuesday. But, oddly, it was in Cincinnati where owner Bill DeWitt Jr. lives instead of in St. Louis. That fact would seem to indicate that maybe general manager John Mozeliak has a little less autonomy to pick a field boss than was originally indicated... 

Francona told the media after the visit with DeWitt that it was basically just a casual conversation. So it's difficult to say if the Redbirds are close to making a decision. Originally they said they hoped to name La Russa's replacement in 10 days to two weeks.

Here's how I see the the playing field:

Francona will be the skipper if the Cardinals decide based on the candidate's experience and resume. He has two World Series championships under his belt with Boston. But he is also ultimately responsible for the September collapse of the Red Sox in 2011.

Oquendo will be the skipper if the Cardinals decide to try not to upset the apple cart as much as possible. He's the steady hand that will most likely follow the methods La Russa followed and keep the coaching staff together. He's also viewed as the olive branch to Albert Pujols. The Cardinals slugger wants Oquendo to get the job and some believe he is most likely to re-sign with the Redbirds if Oquendo does.

Mike Matheny was the wild card coming into the inteview process. But the brass was impressed with what he has to say. Matheny will get the job if the Cardinals didn't like what Francona had to say and if they don't think Oquendo has the personality to be the public face of the franchise. Matheny is a solid fundamentals guy and he's familiar with La Russa's style. But he's completely inexperienced as a professional coach or manager.