Joe Torre hasn’t even been officially fired yet and successors have been anointed. I know it’s natural for the press to speculate wildly (hell, I do it myself) about the possible replacement candidates for Torre as the Yankees manager, but I expected it to be limited to people who were obvious, like Don Mattingly or Joe Girardi (whom, frankly, if I had to advise, I would say go with Girardi.) However, I wasn’t expecting Tony La Russa to be thrown into the discussion, despite the probability that he might leave the Cardinals because Walt Jocketty got canned as GM.
Now every talking head is talking about him as the championship winner to bring in and make the Yankees better, take them back to the promised land. Let us remember that La Russa has only won two championships, decades apart. I’m not particularly interested in dogging him a ton, but let’s consider these factors too:
- He was busted for a DUI in spring training, and then had to shrug off all the questions that arose after Josh Hancock’s death during the season. (This is not to blame La Russa — Hancock was responsible for his own actions, and chose his fate, but it can’t reflect well.)
- The whole holding back Pujols in the All-Star game for extras decision. He has a history of out-thinking himself.
- The 800 pound gorilla: La Russa has a problematic history of managing some of the most talented players to ever augment their abilities with performance enhancers. Again, I am not trying to say he encouraged Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire to use anything that gave them advantages. But he may be guilty of looking the other way, and doing it once again with Rick Ankiel, whose saga has disappeared off the national mainstream sports radar right now. In this sense, La Russa is no different than any other manager who had a player busted during the steroid era. But doesn’t it at least raise a red flag?
Not that these should necessarily prevent La Russa from taking the Yankees job if it’s offered to him and he leaves St. Louis. But shouldn’t these things at least be questioned by those deciding he’s the best candidate available, the one Boss Steinbrenner should be hiring?