La Russa Wants to Win Now?

Joel KochSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

Yesterday, Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wanted to win now. Taken from the article "La Russa is seeking help now, not later", La Russa is quoted as saying, "I think the goal and the urgency should be there to help us as long as a lot of games are left on the schedule."

Can you blame the guy? He wants to go to the postseason, that's why he came back for 2008. He believes in this team and wants to see it succeed. So why on God's green Earth is he starting Chris Duncan?

La Russa, for some strange reason, thinks that the Cardinals best chance of winning is by playing Duncan. This is the same Duncan that has one bad half a year, or so we thought coming into this season.

Duncan's career numbers (before 2008) are as follows:

     AB       H      R     HR     RBI     BB      K
10      2      2        1       3       0       5        
280     82     60      22      43      30      69       
375     97     51      21      70      55      123      
665     181   113    44       116    85      197      

That's from 2005-2007, so those numbers aren't horrible, but they aren't good. Should I even show you his numbers from this season? Well, I guess I kind of have to to make my point. Brace yourselves:

200 AB, 48 H (.240 AVG), 24 R, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 31 BB, 47 K

Now, does that look like the impact bat that the Cardinals need? No, not even close. So, I ask this question again: Why on God's green Earth is Chris Duncan playing everyday?

Tony La Russa has said that the best players are going to start everyday and fight for their playing time. Duncan has been sent to Triple-A this season to work on his swing, isn't hitting for power, average or scoring runs. So how has he fought for his playing time?

Here is how: Dave Duncan asked Tony to play him. Dave Duncan is of course Chris' father, and the Cardinals pitching coach. La Russa feels obligated to play Duncan instead of sit him, or better yet, keep him at Triple-A.

La Russa also talks about the Cardinals getting an impact bat. He says that's the only kind of bat the Cardinals should. So, lets look at this carefully. You're not going to get an impact bat that plays first, third or catcher because you already have your guys there. You're not sitting Molina, Pujols or Glaus. You won't find an impact bat that plays shortstop or second on the open market. Ok, so you have to look to the...

Outfield, that's right. The outfield, where the Cardinals currently have an All-Star in Ryan Ludwick and a "somewhat" snubbed All-Star in Rick Ankiel. So, where are you going to play that impact bat that plays outfield? Ah, yes, left field.

Wait a minute! Where does Chris Duncan play? So here's the new question that has been proposed by La Russa himself: Does getting an impact bat mean the loss of Chris Duncan?

Now, no team in their right mind will take Duncan in a trade, as they want quality talent, not a daddy's boy. So if the Cardinals add a bat, what happens to Skip Schumacker, Duncan and Brian Barton? Who gets the boot?

You can't send Barton to Triple-A because he's a Rule 5 pick, and there's no way Cleveland wouldn't want him back. Schumaker has been a great leadoff hitter and a very good defender, so you can't ruin his confidence by sending him to Memphis.

That just leaves Duncan. So, has La Russa's recent comment about adding an impact bat mean that he's willing to damper his friendship with Dave Duncan to go to the postseason? Only time will tell.