La Russa retirement kicks offseason into high gear

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Fans in St. Louis barely had time to wash the champagne from their eyes on Monday when Tony La Russa stunned Cardinals Nation as well as the baseball world by announcing his retirement after 33 years as a big league manager.

And with that Major League Baseball's offseason is officially off and running.

La Russa's announcement comes as a bit of a shock because most people felt that he would be back for at least another year. But you can't blame a guy for wanting to go out on top, especially when there is a chance that your best player might be suiting up somewhere else next season.

But for those who think that La Russa's retirement will bear anything on Albert Pujols' decision, think again. La Russa would have been long gone by the end of any potential long-term deal for Pujols.

One has nothing to do with the other.

Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa goes out as the third winningest manager in major league history with 2,728 victories.
Now do I think the Cards would seek Pujols' input on La Russa's successor if they think that will help him stay? Yes I do.

Either way, though, it's kind of hard to picture Pujols leaving the Cardinals.

That will be the story of this offseason; will he or won't he? As we stated way back in spring training the big money teams are not really there for him, as the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Phillies all have other needs to fill.

The Chicago Cubs are the wild card here, but this will be a discussion for another day. Today, it's about La Russa, maybe the best manager this generation has ever seen.

The 67-year-old skipper goes out as the third winningest manager in major league history with 2,728 victories for the White Sox (1979-1986), Athletics (1986-1995) and Cardinals (1996-present). Only Connie Mack has managed more games than the 5,097 La Russa has skippered.

"There isn't one (factor) that dominates (my decision)," La Russa said. "They all just come together telling you your time is over. We went through the season and I felt that this just feels like it's time to end it and I think it's going to be great for the Cardinals to refresh what's going on here."

A four-time Manager of the Year, La Russa has guided his clubs to 12 division titles and three World Series championships, as well as three other pennants. In addition to his two world titles with the Cardinals, La Russa also led Oakland to a championship in 1989 and is one of only two men to manage a World Series winner in both leagues.

"I'm looking forward to what's ahead," La Russa said. "I'm ready to do something different."

Is he done? Who knows? History tells us probably not. They always come back. It might not be this year, but at some point some team is going to throw an awful lot of money his way and he'll then have a decision to make.

He's 67 now. It's kind of hard to pick up and start somewhere else at that age when you have to relate to 20-year-old ballplayers. My guess? This is probably the end of the road.

See you in Cooperstown.

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