Ah, the season is over and the speculation begins.
The offseason is a breeding ground of excitement, uncertainty, disillusionment, and hyperbole. It's a time when every fan becomes an expert, and within Cardinal Nation there is, no doubt, a great deal of whispering about Tony LaRussa's pending future.
A good number of people are voicing the opinion that the Cardinals would be ok—perhaps even better off—without LaRussa at the helm for the 2010 campaign.
Now, I'm neither a fan of his stubbornness, nor of some of his deliberations (i.e. the Rolen Incident). However, the level of preparedness that he brings to the team, and what he demands from his players is significant.
LaRussa has his flaws, but there is no denying his passion to win and the amount of effort he's going to give. This mentality flows throughout the organization and is a large part of why many consider the Cardinals to be one of the best run franchises. Additionally, Tony has a great relationship with Albert Pujols. If Tony decides to walk, it may cast some doubt into the slugger's quickly-approaching contract situation.
On that note, isn't it a bit of an awakening that Albert hasn't spoken about the NLDS yet? Sure, he's a professional and it left a bad taste in his mouth... but what if he's realizing (incorrectly) that this team isn't going to seriously compete in the future? I dare even mention it, but could we be on the brink of Pujols searching for greener pastures?
TLR repeatedly affirms that Albert is the best in the business, and will do whatever it takes to make him happy. Even for a guy who is fiercely loyal to his players, this is almost a no-brainer.
But, if Tony's gone, so goes that reassurance... potentially, there goes Pujols.
Cards fans should not be so quick to slam the skipper. Everyone in Cardinal Nation is reeling from this sweep...as they should.
It's disgusting. But there's no denying the level of success that the organization has had throughout this decade-plus at the hand of Mr. LaRussa.
It's funny: In each of the past four years, commentators have discussed how that current year is probably TLR's finest work. Winning the World Series in 2006 with 83 regular season wins. Nearly staying in the postseason mix in '07 and '08 with a makeshift, injured lineup. Wringing every ounce of talent and determination from this year's squad to clinch the central by 7.5 games (10+ throughout Aug. and Sept.).
St. Louis can't be so quick to wave goodbye.
So ultimately, yeah, Cards fans should hope that Tony stays. He has proved time and again that he knows the formula to win. He inspires his players to play with the best of their ability, and reassures his stars of their value.
The guy makes mistakes, sure. But he gets paid to win games...obviously he's done that.
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