I am sure by now you have heard the rumors that Hedge-Fund Billionaire Steven Cohen has the leading bid to buy the Dodgers. Rumors are circulating that he will be bringing in former Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa in some aspect to help run the Baseball Operations. Tony La Russa won the World Series last season with the Cardinals and then retired from managing immediately after. La Russa has been a player, a manager, and a coach. As a manager, La Russa has won three world Championships and won three AL manager of the year awards as well as one in the National League. Recently I sat down to discuss La Russa with BBA President Daniel Shoptaw, our good friend from the blog C70- cardinal70.com. I’m not thrilled about the idea of Tony La Russa running the Dodgers or having some executive position either. However it’s looking like a possibility, because Steven Cohen is the front-runner to win the bid for the Dodgers. So I want to know who we might be dealing with. Who better to answer our questions?
Q: We know that Tony La Russa retired from managing after winning last season’s world series with the Cardinals. As a Cardinal fan, how do you feel about La Russa possibly coming over to help run the Dodgers? If La Russa had retired from managing, what would make him want to un-retire for an executive position with the Dodgers?
Daniel: Tony loves the game, there’s no question about that. Even when he retired, he noted that he wasn’t through with baseball. Most people expected him to get a job with MLB in general, perhaps taking over Joe Torre’s job under Bud Selig. While that hasn’t come to fruition yet, it doesn’t surprise me that TLR might want to take on a different challenge and be attracted toward an organization with a history that could rival the one he just left.
Q:Tony La Russa has been considered the father of the modern day Bullpen. He has won four manager of the year awards and three World Series titles. If La Russa were to somehow want to manage the Dodgers, (I know this may be kind of a stretch, and I am in no way endorsing him as manager over Mattingly. I like Don Mattingly, this is just a what if for hypothetical purposes of this post) What do you think of La Russa’s In-game skills? What are your opinions of his Managerial skills?
Daniel: I think he’s done managing. I don’t see him getting back into the dugout on a regular basis. Now, if he’s a GM, would he be inclined to hire some of his coaches as managers or coaches? That I’d believe. I could see him trying to get Dave McKay to come out there, though McKay has already moved on to Chicago. Maybe have Joe Pettini as a bench coach. Those kind of things I’d believe, but I don’t think he’d get back into the saddle again.
Tony knows the game and he knows how to get every advantage that he can. He’s great about deflecting any possible attacks on his players toward himself by talking about the lights, getting into an argument with the umpire, whatever. If he’s the focus of the press, they aren’t going after the players and that’s big for him.
There’s also no doubt that he knows how to manage. You don’t do it for roughly 35 years with barely a few weeks off without knowing something. He may use four relievers to get the last two outs of a 7-2 game, but he doesn’t know how to do it any other way. He gets the most out of his players and he drills in them to continue to battle and not give away at-bats, a mindset that served them well in 2011.
Where TLR seems to be lacking is his ability to relate to some players. He’s got one way of doing things and if that isn’t the way a player responds to, odds are that player will be in his doghouse. Colby Rasmus is probably the biggest example of that, but there were plenty of others.
Q: Do you think Tony La Russa is a fit for the Dodgers? If so, would he preserve and protect Dodger Tradition? Would he be willing to run things the Dodger Way?
Q: Do you think La Russa is a fit for the Dodgers? Yes or No? and if no explain why?
Daniel: These two questions seem to be the same, so I’ll answer them together. I’m not sold on Tony La Russa being a GM for anyone, let me put that out there first and foremost. I think TLR is a great in-game tactician, but that’s a short-term focus. As a GM, you’ve got to be looking farther down the road. I’d not be surprised to see a number of deals where TLR swapped a couple of good prospects for an aging veteran that could fit into the clubhouse puzzle but not be all that vital.
If you are just talking about TLR being involved with the Dodgers, though, I think he probably is a good fit. He’s lived in California for decades now, never buying a home in St. Louis, so he knows the general culture going on around there. He appreciates baseball and its history, so he’d be very excited about those Dodger ties that go back all the way to Brooklyn. I think he’d love the tradition and respect it, though he might modify things here and there.
There was something Daniel said that really caught my eye here……” I’d not be surprised to see a number of deals where TLR swapped a couple of good prospects for an aging veteran that could fit into the clubhouse puzzle but not be all that vital.”
Read that quote carefully. Oh boy there. Ok, I can see this happening. Who does that quote remind you of? Wouldn’t that be something Dodger fans? A multi-billionaire buys the Dodgers and hires another Ned Colletti type to be the General Manger. That is some awful irony right there.
Thank you Daniel. We might have more questions for you later. Please stay ready.