Have We Already Jumped To The Conclusion?

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?

2 Responses

  1. Also, St. Louis is a one newspaper town, has reasonably supportive local media in general, and when negative words are written about The Skipper (as we call him), it’s almost with an apologetic undertone …. And Tony STILL gets fairly upset about negative comments. There was a story in the Post-Dispatch earlier this summer portraying the Cubs as losers the edition before they were in town for a big weekend series. Perhaps not the best choice of themes, but it was all in good fun, and nobody from the Cubs really seemed that offended about it. Tony, by contrast, blew up in his post-game press conference as soon as someone (I think it was Bernie Miklaz) from the Post asked him a question. And that’s just the first in a litany of examples that comes to mind.

    Here’s the point: The Skipper’s always been pretty thin-skinned in a fairly tame media town … I can’t IMAGINE how much trouble he’d have with the NY media, but if his time here has been any indication, it won’t be pretty.

    And I think that’s why the Skipper won’t ultimately take the job, even if offered.

    Also, local rumors here have it that LaRussa’s people have explicitly contacted Torre’s people and conveyed that he’s not interested in making a play for Torre’s job. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it does make it less likely.

    All that being said, good post.

  2. tony la russa would be a fine manager in new york. he is one of the winningest of all time. stats schmats has all the stats here:

    http://blogs.msg.com/gameon/2007/10/stats-shmats-mo.html

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