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Could La Russa steal St. Louis' Secret Weapon

The problem that arises when one of the top people in your organization joins another one, is that he tries to surround himself with familiar faces.

So that makes me wonder what the St. Louis Cardinals have to fear from former manager Tony La Russa taking a newly-created position as chief baseball officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Fortunately, many of his lieutenants in St. Louis are already gone. Former coaches Dave Duncan and Dave McKay already work for the Diamondbacks. Mark McGwire left the Cardinals to become the hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the rumor mill has already started to churn reports that La Russa wants to fire Arizona manager Kirk Gibson and replace him with Redbirds third base coach Jose Oquendo.

Oquendo is a low profile guy, so his value might be a little bit under the radar. But it would be tough for St. Louis to lose him not only because he's the Cardinals fielding guru. But he's got a ton of institutional knowledge about what it means to be a Cardinal. Who, besides Red Schoendienst has spanned the last four decades as a member of the Redbirds?

If La Russa came calling, Oquendo would have a tough call to make. This could be his last shot at becoming a major league manager. But would it be a great idea to take over as skipper of a floundering team that's getting ready for a major housecleaning? Look at former St. Louis coach Jim Riggleman who was hired by the Washington Nationals to develop a group of young players. As soon as those players were set to contend, the Nats planned to shove him out the door and hire a higher profile skipper. Riggleman saw the writing on the dugout wall and quit before he could be fired.

It would be a shame to give up such a steady job for a tenuous position as a transitional manager. Let's remember while La Russa probably wouldn't turn his back on Oquendo if he lured him to the desert, Tony is 69 years old. I'd be a little surprised if he was still working full-time for the Snakes beyond three years.

La Russa's other dealings could benefit the Cardinals, however.

On his short list of potential new general managers if former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty.

Shown the door by the Redbirds for his unwillingness to play nice with the Money Ball guys, Jocketty would be an excellent choice for La Russa to hire to help him prove the old fashioned way of evaluating talent is still viable. And Jocketty might be ready to leave the Cincinnati Reds who seem to have run out of money last off-season as they jettisoned one of their best offensive players and one of their best starting pitchers to cut costs.

If Jocketty left the Reds, it could send Cincinnati reeling into a rebuilding period.

There probably aren't many players the Diamondbacks could flip to the Cardinals in a fire sale that would benefit St. Louis. I doubt the D-Backs would be willing to send 26-year-old slugger Paul Goldschmidt at a reasonable cost. But the Redbirds don't have a bunch of free agents that La Russa could raid. So as far as players go, St. Louis is pretty safe.

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