|Tony La Russa, flanked by Cardinals|
owner Bill DeWitt Jr. (foreground) and
general manager John Mozelak,
walked away from the St. Louis
managerial job Monday.
Look at the photo to the left. TLR looks like an old and weary man. He's 67, he's been sick all season, he's been managing for 33 years, he just won a third World Series ...
Had LaRussa quit after last season — when Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella and Joe Torre walked away — I wouldn't have been surprised. So why should it be a shocker that he's decided he's done now? Because he's 35 wins away from passing John McGraw on the all-times wins list?
He and Tom Kelly were mutual admirers, and I suspect he will, like TK, have no trouble resisting efforts to coax him back into the dugout.
But then, I expected him back with the Cardinals in 2012.
The Cardinals have been one of the premier teams in the National League over the decades. The Senior Circuit has no Yankee monolith, but the Cards have an imposing record of titles since Branch Rickey invented the farm system in the 1920s and turned around their on-field fortunes.
There's been no shortage of Hall-of-Fame managers in the Cardinal uni over the decades — even leaving out player-managers Rogers Hornsby and Frankie Frisch (each of whom skippered the Redbirds to a World Series title), there are Billy Southworth, Bill McKechnie, Red Schoendienst (who made Cooperstown at least as much as a player as as manager), Whitey Herzog, Torre (who isn't in yet but will be) — and of course, LaRussa.
LaRussa worked 16 years in St. Louis, winning 1,408 games — almost 400 more than the next best, Schoendienst.
The greatest Cardinal manager? Absolutely LaRussa.
The Twins on Monday claimed a pair of marginal pitchers, Matt Maloney and Jeff Gray, off waivers. Both men have bounced between the majors and Triple A for three or four years, and neither is particularly promising; if they were, they wouldn't have been on waivers.
I will regard both as roster filler destined for Rochester until given reason to believe otherwise. That reason is probably more likely to come from Maloney than Gray, if only because Maloney is left-handed and has been a starter in the minors (with impressive walk/strikeout ratios but unimpressive K rates), while Gray is a righty reliever.