Could somebody tell Tony La Russa to wait until Joe Torre’s corpse is at least slightly chilled before campaigning for Yankees skipper’s job?
A report in Tuesday’s New York Daily News said that La Russa, who is in the final year of his contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, is interested in the New York Yankees managerial job should Yanks’ boss George Steinbrenner go through with his division series threat of sacking Torre.
While Torre isn’t technically the Yankees’ manager anymore — he too finished his contract when New York was ousted in four games by the Cleveland Indians — no final decision on whether Torre will be asked back has been made yet, if you believe Yankees’ general manger Brian Cashman.
That hasn’t stopped the self-proclaimed genius La Russa — OK, so maybe he hasn’t specifically called himself a genius, but he certainly likes the attention and does nothing to downplay any mention of it — to wait until there’s an actual opening to be filled.
What’s more, according to the Daily News, it seems that La Russa already has a staff in mind, which would include Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan (Yankees’ DH/OF Shelley Duncan’s father) and current Yanks’ bench coach Don Mattingly. The word is that La Russa would further continue to groom Donnie Baseball for the top job and turn it over to him when he — meaning La Russa, or is it Mattingly? — is ready.
Fat chance. Anybody who has even casually followed baseball knows that La Russa is a control freak who likes to think he invented the game, doing such “unorthodox” things as batting the pitcher eighth to conceivably, at least, give Albert Pujols more RBI opportunities. (Ever think of batting Pujols fourth, Tony?)
Worse, does anybody really think La Russa would thrive against the New York media? He was once upon a time the Chicago White Sox manager, the second team in a two-team city that cares more about the Cubs. He also managed and won a World Series in Oakland — a one-newspaper town — and in St. Louis — another one-paper town that caters to a fanbase that bleeds red.
This would be a good hire? La Russa is known for protecting his players — look at how he’s constantly side-stepped the steroid questions surrounding Mark McGwire and Rick Ankiel. That doesn’t work in the Big Apple, where all players are fair game. Also, La Russa has been in public spat with future Hall of Famer like Scott Rolen over the last few years. Think he’d yell at Derek Jeter?
If The Boss wants La Russa on the bench, he’ll get him. But if Steinbrenner thinks he’s getting something better than what he’s had for the last 12 years, he’s kidding himself.
After all, under Torre, the Yankees won four World Series and lost two World Series, one in seven games and another in six.
La Russa, to his credit, has won two World Series. He’s also lost three and was swept in each of them.
How would that play in New York?