Well, it looks as if Tony La Russa will be returning to manage the St. Louis Cardinals
once again in 2010. He hasn't made any sort of official announcement as of yet, but all signs point to La Russa coming back for his 15th season wearing the Birds on the Bat.
How do I feel about TLR being back at the helm in 2010? Well, I'm glad you asked. It would have been much more awkward if you hadn't.
To tell the truth, I have mixed feelings about La Russa coming back, but on the whole I think it's probably a good thing. There are plenty of times during the season I disagree with Tony on a variety of things, from bullpen usage to his allocation of playing time to the favoritism he shows to certain players, but I also firmly believe Tony La Russa gets as much from his players as any manager in the game.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think that means Tony, or someone else, couldn't do a better job. The problem with the managerial profession is of all the positions in an incredibly insular world, none more perfectly reflects the power of Conventional Wisdom than manager. It's always interesting to watch an argument between a stathead and someone more conventionally inclined when it comes to the impact of managers, because the argument always ends up in a logical cul de sac. At some point, the stahead will make the argument the manager could have made some move which would have increased his team's chances of winning, or scoring a run, or some other desirable outcome, by X percent.
In fact, the stathead argues, in the particular situation being discussed, a manager should alwaysalwaysalways take the higher percentage play, because it's been proven, by various run-scoring models, that doing blank will increase your overall run production by six runs over the course of a year. The traditionalist will then argue that no, you have to play to the situation, and all situations are not the same. The stathead counters with no, in this situation, you should always take the path which gives you the better percentages. The traditionalist then says, "Well, if that's the right way to do it all the time, then why don't I see managers doing it that way?"
And there's the problem. There is no answer to that argument. Copernicus probably heard the same thing when he argued the Earth went around the Sun. "Well, I don't know Copernicus. Sure, you make a good case, but if that's the way it is, then why does everyone else say it's the other way around?" That's why it's so hard to argue against Conventional Wisdom: all the experts believe the same thing until they're proven wrong. And hey, they're the experts, right, so why wouldn't we listen to them?
But I digress.