-What we're witnessing with the Cardinals early this season appears to me to be a harbinger of larger changes on the horizon.
The Tony LaRussa/Walt Jockety era of the Cards is nearing an end. Insiders, and outsiders, are getting indications...and making them public...that Cardinals "out-front" owner Bill DeWitt is preparing the organization for life after Walt and Tony. That, as much as anything, has created a stagnant attitude in the front office, and on the field, and may be at least partially responsible for the pathetic looking club that has been fielded so far this season.
Fox Sports baseball guru Ken Rosenthal, among others, has written about DeWitt's grooming of Jeff Luhnow as a successor to Jockety, and the negative influence it has cast over the operation. Luhnow currently holds the title of Vice President for Scouting and Player Development, but it's apparently no secret in baseball circles that DeWitt has Luhnow ready to take over should Jockety leave, or be fired. And, since Jockety and LaRussa seem to be a package deal, Tony is probably understandably disturbed at the unhappy situation of his boss, and buddy, Walt. And, of course, these things have a way of infecting attitude all around.
One has to wonder if DeWitt is unhappy with the long-term, high-dollar contracts that Jockety has entered into with players like Scott Rolen and Chris Carpenter. At one time both deals seemed like bargains. But now that Rolen seems unable to hit anywhere close to the level of his pre-shoulder injury days, and Carpenter's arm surgery has his career in some doubt, neither deal seems "club friendly" anymore. Then you have the multi-million dollar deal bestowed upon now, very aged-looking Jim Edmonds...and you might see how an owner would start questioning his GM.
To position Luhnow as a possible successor to Jockety is a fairly understandable move on ownership's part. You never want anyone in your company to appear irreplaceable. On the other hand, Jockety's success level with limited resources...comparatively speaking... over the years should put him way above the fray. Having someone hovering in the background ready to take your job shouldn't be something with which Walt has to be concerned. And, if it actually is a distraction that makes its way into player performance, then DeWitt needs to do something to make things right. It wasn't all that long ago that Cardinals games weren't sold-out every time the team took the field. And much more baseball like we've seen in '07 will bring back the "bad ol' days".