Why I can’t stand Tony La Russa

Buried in this story about Khalil Greene going back on the DL is this nugget:

The Cardinals purchased the contract of 24-year-old righty Clayton Mortensen from Triple-A Memphis. That move restores pitching staff to 13 after one day with a dozen following the acquisition of Mark DeRosa from the Indians.

“Restores.” And one whole day with a twelve-man staff? Whatever did the Cardinals do to survive such dire straits? Oh wait, they didn’t. They got killed by the Giants last night. I’m sure the thirteenth man in the pen would have made the difference.

There was a time — I think it was a week ago Thursday — when teams managed to get by with something less than thirteen men in the pen. The greatest trick that Tony La Russa ever pulled was convincing baseball that such a thing was unthinkable.

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Comments

  1. Scarf said...

    Don’t worry, Craig—the vast majority of Cards fans (at least the ones online, myself included) cannot wait until TLR retires, takes his stupid roster management to some animal shelter and The Secret Weapon takes over, leading the Birdinals into the modern era.

    Seriously, from my experience writing for/reading Cards blogs I have never met a fanbase that actively hates so many elements of their own team: the FO for not spending enough money/not properly embracing sabermetrics (depending on the situation), the GM for being a puppet, the manager for all his quirks, the pitching coach for not working enough with young players, other fans for being too nice/old/fat, the list goes on. Pretty much the only guys that are universally liked are Pujols, Wainwright and a couple broadcasters.

  2. Two Scoops said...

    You knock LaRussa???? Are you nuts…or just so wasted that you don’t appreciate someone who knows and understands the game of baseball and the people who play it?

    Let me tell you someting, Craig. You have one of the best managers in baseball, period! If you don’t beleive me…take a look at what’s out there and make the comparisons. i.e.I’m sure Toronto fans would love another exchange with St. Louis, only this time they would willingly throw in the best pitcher in baseball just to make the manager for manager swap.

    So stop complaining…and be thankful for what you’ve got!

  3. Tom Seaver said...

    Amen! I have long despised LaRussa for his expansion of the bullpen and his employment of specialty relievers, like Tony Fossas. 
    There used to be a time when there were 10-11 pitchers and 15-14 position players.  Now, you have guys appearing in 80 games and throwing 65-75 inninngs.  Rollie Fingers would vomit on LaRussa’s shoes.

  4. Sara K said...

    “the vast majority of Cards fans (at least the ones online, myself included) cannot wait until TLR retires, takes his stupid roster management to some animal shelter and The Secret Weapon takes over, leading the Birdinals into the modern era.” 

    Amen, brother.

    @Two Scoops: Sure, there are plenty of things to like about TLR.  Guy didn’t make it to 2,500 wins by accident.  But seriously, are you saying that you *like* the idea of 6,7 pitching changes in every game or that many managers now base their in-game decisions on a virtually meaningless construct called the “save”?  Craig never said that TLR was a bad manager.  He simply vented his frustration over the changes in the game brought about largely by TLR’s “innovations.”  Give the guy a break, eh?

  5. Bill B. said...

    What’s wrong with leveraging relievers? I’m waiting for the erosion of the five- or six-inning start, when managers simply use “pitchers” based on their skill, their pitch arsenal, recent performance, who’s batting and who’s on base, the inning, outs, etc.

    TLR does that to a degree, but only late in the game. Taking leverage into account, that’s a good thing, but it could prevent some runs earlier, too.

    As a fan, I’m sure it’s boring going to three commercial breaks during the bottom of the eighth, but it’s better than leaving in a LHP against Ryan Braun, for instance.

  6. Richard in Dallas said...

    I have a thoery that no team needs more than 10 pitchers, all of them of the ilk of a closer.  Pitcher 1 starts today, and pitches 1 inning or through the end of the first inning in which he gives up a hit.  After his departure, number 2 comes in, and pitches 1 inning.  Period.  Then number 3 comes in for 1 inning, and so on until either the game is over or number 10 pitches (in the case of extras).  This would spread out your liabilities, and with the exception of the starter if they flirt with a no-no or number 10 if you go a lot of innings, everybody is ready to go again tomorrow.  That leaves you a bench of 7 (6 in the AL), giving you MUCH more flexibility with pinch hitters (L/R matchups become less bothersome), and defensive substitutions, not to mention being more able to play the hot hand.  I really wish that someone would have the stones to try this out.  It would be really interesting to see how it works…..

  7. Jacob said...

    @Richard, I believe TLR tried something similar to that when he was in the AL.  I can’t remember if it was with the A’s or the White Sox.

  8. Jason B said...

    “I’m sure Toronto fans would love another exchange with St. Louis, only this time they would willingly throw in the best pitcher in baseball just to make the manager for manager swap.”

    As a Blue Jays fan I say…

    …pass. Thanks but no thanks. I thoroughly enjoy Cito’s passive approach.  Throw your best guys out there and let ‘em do their thing.  If it stops working, then think of something else.  We don’t need eleventy-four relievers to make it through an inning (clocking in at 35 minutes), thanks.

  9. Mike said...

    Oh god yes.  Only 5 pennants and merely 2 world series titles?

    There can’t be more than 20 teams in baseball that would want that record.  OK, 25.  Tops.

  10. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Hey, you can appreciate someone’s accomplishments while being unable to stand them (see, just about every Yankees team ever). 

    Tony La Russa is a Hall of Fame manager.

    Tony La Russa is annoying as hell, and I hate what he’s done with respect to bullpen usage in the game.

    Those thoughts are not inconsistent.

  11. Chipmaker said...

    LaRussa tried the “every pitcher goes three innings” stunt while in Oakland, July 1993 soon after the All-Star Game. The pitchers hated it. And that was a pretty bad team, so it didn’t deliver any results that could be called positive.

  12. Dayn Perry said...

    The roster construction this season has been intolerable. For about two weeks, they barely used the 12th and 13th guys on the staff. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Wainwright pinch hit in a fairly important situation. Grr.

  13. Richard Dansky said...

    My wife has informed me that she will once again adopt the mantle of a baseball fan only on the condition that TLR quits and Jose Oquendo takes over her beloved Cardinals. She hates TLR for being the anti-Whitey Herzog, whose teams she grew up rooting for.

    Me, I dislike him for his insistence on being Tony La Russa, Super Geeeeenius. Yes, yes, you let the pitcher hit 8th. You’re very smart. Now shut up.

  14. ta192 said...

    The “every pitcher goes 3 inns” was originally tried by the Cubs, a looong time ago.  With staffs reaching 13, they’ve hit the wall unless rosters are expanded, and that’s not gonna happen.
    How about a blend, set your staff up with 2 decent starters, 3 if you’re lucky, and manage the rest of the games with whoever’s ready to pitch 3 innings.  I really think it could work…

  15. steveknj said...

    I always said that LaRussa ruined baseball.  You wonder why games are so long?  Because LaRussa started all this lefty / righty crap.  I remember picthing staffs that got by with 9, let alone 13!!
    Everytime a pitcher is changed, that’s another 5 minutes added to the gametime.  Great manager, yeah, but his methods have ruined this game.

  16. Ross said...

    @Richard, Cubs did that last game of the season last year.  (Small sample size, nothing to play for warnings attached of course)

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