Replacing LaRussa

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Let’s take a look at some of the potential replacements (from my own addled head) for the retired Tony LaRussa as manager of the Cardinals.

These are in no particular order.

Terry Francona

It’s a ready-made situation; the players he’s managed, coached and played with have always spoken highly of Francona; he can handle anything.

The Cardinals and the mostly club-friendly media in St. Louis would be a welcome respite from the crisis-a-day atmosphere in Boston.

His tenure with the Red Sox didn’t end well and when he had to do some legitimate managing with a Phillies club that wasn’t very good, he did poorly.

The Cardinals are a contender, but they’re not stacked nor do they spend like the Red Sox.

He’d be agreeable to Albert Pujols.

He’s not an automatic for the job.

Joe Torre

Torre’s current job as executive VP of operations for MLB appears to have been at least as aggravating as managing and it’s nowhere near as financially lucrative. The only plus side is there’s less travel.

Torre was an MVP as a player with the Cardinals and the manager before LaRussa. Presumably his wife would give him the nod if he really wanted to do it on a 2-3 year deal to try and win another championship.

He’s got the star power and status to replace LaRussa and the Cardinals veterans—especially Pujols—would be onboard.

Jose Oquendo

A longtime LaRussa coach who deserves a chance to manage somewhere. I’m not a big fan of hiring someone from the staff to take over as manager, especially for a legend. It rarely works and I believe in bringing someone in from the outside or an organizational person who hadn’t been in the clubhouse.

Mark McGwire

I think he’d be good at it; the players like and respect him; but he’s never managed before and he’s very shy. He probably wouldn’t take criticism well.

Mike Jorgensen

A longtime respected member of the Cardinals front office who managed the club briefly after Torre was fired in 1995. He’s never shown an interest in managing, but going down on the field for a ready-made team for a couple of years might appeal to him. He’s 63, so it’s unlikely.

Tony Pena

The Yankees respected bench coach is loved by the players and is a former Cardinal. He deserves another chance as a manager.

Dave Duncan

Teams approached him years ago and he was never interested in managing. He’s 66, is short-tempered and doesn’t need the scrutiny.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

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MLB GM/Manager Merry Go ‘Round

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Let’s have a look at the GMs and managers who might be looking for work after the season ends and who might replace them.

First things first, Brian Cashman is not leaving the Yankees; Theo Epstein is not leaving the Red Sox. So forget it.

Baltimore Orioles

Andy MacPhail won’t be back as GM and Buck Showalter has pretty much taken control of the whole operation. Clearly things aren’t going to go as swimmingly as they were when Showalter took over a year ago and the Orioles went 34-23 and then got off to a 6-1 start this season.

Everyone started going crazy based on Buck and Buck alone; apparently they didn’t look at the Orioles’ roster and the division beforehand.

The Orioles are a long-term rebuilding project, especially in the pitching department.

They have to find a GM who’s agreeable to Showalter without said GM appearing to be a puppet for the manager.

John Hart has been mentioned. He hired Showalter with the Rangers and is a veteran baseball man who’ll stand his ground in a disagreement. He’d be a good choice.

Chicago White Sox

There’s speculation that both GM Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen could both be gone.

Williams isn’t going anywhere.

Guillen’s going to the Marlins.

I discussed this earlier and don’t think it’s a guarantee that Guillen bench coach Joey Cora takes over as the new manager. Cito Gaston and Tony Pena are two possibilities.

Los Angeles Angels

Tony Reagins was said to be in trouble after the disastrous Vernon Wells trade, but how can you fire a man whose team might win the division and, at the very least, will win around 90 games?

You can’t.

Oakland Athletics

I’m saying it now: Billy Beane is going to the Cubs (if they want him); David Forst will take over as A’s GM.

Here’s what’s going to happen: the A’s are going to have a good year in 2012; the Cubs are going to have a good year in 2012; all of a sudden, Billy will be a “genius” again after the fallout of the ridiculousness of Moneyball the film and Moneyball the book.

I’ll be a major facilitator of said fallout.

I can hear it now and almost go on a tangent before it even happens: “It turns out that Billy was a genius!!”

Um…no. He wasn’t. And isn’t.

Seattle Mariners

Jack Zduriencik signed what was referred to as a “multi-year extension”. I suppose a 2-year extension counts as “multi-year”, but it’s not brimming with confidence.

The extension is through 2013 and if the Mariners have a bad year in 2012, he’s going to get fired.

Just out of curiosity, for what purpose are the Mariners writing Willy Mo Pena‘s name in the lineup? They don’t have anyone else to look at instead of the journeyman Pena?

Florida Marlins

Ozzie Guillen is going to be the next manager of the Marlins…unless he gets into an immediate argument with team president David Samson at the introductory press conference. A legitimate possibility.

Buster Olney tweeted that owner Jeffrey Loria and Samson are going to take a more active role in player procurement this winter. Sounds like Jerry Jones with the Cowboys. Which is to say it doesn’t sound good.

St. Louis Cardinals

Tony LaRussa has a 2012 mutual option with the Cardinals. The White Sox would be a place for LaRussa to finish his career in a full circle move to go back where he started; if Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals, it’s hard to imagine LaRussa wanting to deal with the Cardinals without Pujols, but I think Pujols stays and so does LaRussa.

Chicago Cubs

Beane’s going to the Cubs; given how little he thinks of his managers, it wouldn’t do any harm (in his eyes) for him to hire Ryne Sandberg to manage the team and it would automatically get him in the good graces of Cubs fans.

Houston Astros

The ownership change from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane is going slowly; either way, I believe both GM Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills are going to get fired as soon as it’s done.

Who knows who Crane’s going to bring in as GM? But re-hiring former Astros GM and now Rays executive Gerry Hunsicker is a good plan if Rays GM Andrew Friedman turns them down. If they hire Friedman or Hunsicker, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is a managerial prospect.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The McCourt ownership situation is what it is. There was talk that Ned Colletti might be a choice for the Cubs, but I doubt he’s leaving the Dodgers; if he does, Kim Ng would be perfect.

Don Mattingly not only deserves to keep his job, he deserves some Manager of the Year votes for keeping the team playing hard and respectably.

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White Sox Must Resolve Guillen Situation Quickly

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The long-anticipated and heavily speculated divorce between manager Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox may finally be at hand.

Guillen said last week that he wants a contract extension if he’s going to fulfill the final year of his current deal in 2012. It’s known that the Marlins have interest in Guillen being their new manager as they enter a new life as the Miami Marlins and a new venue as they begin play in their retractable roof, state-of-the-art, baseball-only stadium. The White Sox have stagnated and underperformed in the past three seasons under Guillen’s fiery, blunt, over-the-top leadership.

The White Sox need someone who’s less of a loose cannon; the Marlins need someone who is a bit of a loose cannon and has the cachet and fearlessness to get into the faces of the self-involved rookies like Logan Morrison and diva-veterans like Hanley Ramirez; and Guillen’s worn out his welcome with the White Sox and his GM Kenny Williams.

This has to be done quickly to avoid any legal entanglements and rampant rumor-mongering of what both clubs are going to do. I’m talking about everything happening within days after the season ends.

If I were the White Sox, I’d contact the Marlins to see if they’re still interested in Guillen—and they surely are; I’d go to Guillen and tell him it’s time to part ways; I’d let Guillen’s representatives lay the groundwork for a deal with the Marlins; I’d ask for Chris Coghlan from the Marlins as compensation for Guillen being let out of his contract and move forward.

The White Sox have been expected to win for the past three years and each year have played inconsistently at best.

The Marlins have a load of young talent that needs a good swift kick and a marketable manager to sell to the fans.

Coghlan has collapsed amid the pressures of being Rookie of the Year in 2009 with injuries, position changes and demotions—he needs to start somewhere new.

White Sox GM Williams thinks outside the box when it comes to everything he does; he neither accounts for nor cares about the reaction he gets when he makes a decision; it’s with this in mind that I say the obvious heir apparent to Guillen—coach Joey Cora—might not be the new White Sox manager. Williams almost hired Cito Gaston when he hired Guillen and Yankees bench coach Tony Pena would be a calm presence to counteract the lunacy that was inherent under Guillen.

Either man might be exactly what the White Sox—and Williams—need.

This has to be dealt with and it should be done sooner rather than later for the good of all involved.

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