Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who is Tony La Russa?

To most fans and to this Fan in particular, Tony La Russa is a bit of a mystery. We get contradictory information about the man and it's hard to get a true picture of what he is like. We know that he (almost singly) supports Mark McGwire with his loyalty and at the same time, we have two players in two years that have found themselves on his bad side and dispatched.

This year's case is Adam Kennedy, by all accounts a pretty decent second baseman. Kennedy has had a decent career and other than a dismal performance in 2007, has been league average or better in fielding and batting and in Win Shares for second basemen. We now learn from this story that Kennedy has been released even though the Cardinals are stuck paying him $4 million this year with no other second basemen on their roster. Boy, when La Russa fouls on someone, it's not pretty.

Last year it was Scott Rolen, who apparently never got over La Russa publicly throwing his player under a bus in an interview. The hatred between the two was widely reported and La Russa won the standoff and Rolen was dispatched to Toronto. Rolen, the holder of an .871 lifetime OPS was a proud player who did not like his manager ragging him in a public manner. Don't blame him.

So what is Tony La Russa? Is he a demagogue? Is he a decent guy? It's hard to put a finger on it as there seems to be conflicting information. It just seems funny that for two years in a row, two players who did not appreciate him were ceremoniously dumped.


Josh Borenstein said...

He's a micromanager whose philosophy is "my way or the highway." But you can't argue with the results.

Cardinal70 said...

What Josh said. Plus if you get on his good side, there's little you can do wrong. It's amazing the chances he'll give to people, like Jason Isringhausen, for example.

But if you get on the wrong side of him, like Rolen, Kennedy, Anthony Reyes, it's pretty much a point of no return.