Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chiming In

-Everyone in St. Louis will have an opinion on the Walt Jocketty/Cardinals divorce over the next few days...so I might as well throw one out too.

You didn't have to have you head buried too far to expect that something like this was coming down the pike. In fact, I wrote on this blog back on May 12th that it was apparent that Bill DeWitt was preparing for "life after Walt Jocketty/Tony LaRussa". The Cardinals obviously were divided into factions in the front office and there was an apparent difference of philosophy between how a non-major market team is supposed to be constructed. DeWitt and Jocketty were not-so-secretly heading down different management roads regarding high-dollar players and their contracts.

With the firing...and that's what it is...of Jocketty, I would be totally shocked if Mr. LaRussa wears the "birds-on-the-bat" on his chest ever again. LaRussa and Jocketty were on the same page philosophically, and just about every other way. I think they were as much of a package deal as you're going to find in pro sports management. I also believe, without really knowing, that Jocketty knew that he would be canned at season's end and told TLR so. That's as good a reason as any for LaRussa's "I'm not sure if I'll return" rhetoric over the last several weeks. It was probably his way of making a "power play" to get DeWitt and company to re-up with Walt.

So, what happens now? I'm surprized that they are saying Jeff Luhnow isn't a candidate for the open job. He was the guy who apparently was the cause of much consternation by Jocketty and posed the greatest obvious threat to his front-office supremacy. I don't know him, but I've been impressed with John Mozielak, the now interim GM, when I've heard him speak on the radio. If he's a Jocketty disciple though, I wouldn't expect him to get the gig permanently. Some of the comments by Mark Lamping at the press conference would indicate that they're pretty excited about the possibility of bringing in someone from the outside. In baseball circles, heck in in any business, the likely successors usually are on top of the rumor mill and what it generates. I would expect most of the potential new GMs have already had a conversation or two with Messrs. Lamping and DeWitt.

As far as the team is concerned. I would expect we'll be hearing a lot of talk about "building for the future" and "investing in our farm system" etc. The "we have to win with a few stars and a bunch of young studs" mentality will be the mantra of Cardinals Nation. Whether that works remains to be seen...but I'm thinking fiscal responsibility is going to take precedence over creating excitement with free-agent signings and the like...even more so than before today. Keep an eye on the minor leagues Cardinals fans...and don't get jealous of how much money Mark Cuban spends as new owner of the Cubs. Hey, it could happen.

1 comment:

William R. Fink said...

Tom,

I think STL businesses, in general, have issues with spending money on quality labor. As a consultant, I have an opportunity to work with some of the larger corporations in the STL area. While you would not suspect it, some of the biggest and most well-known companies are also some of the stingiest when it comes to billing rates. Many of the “Board of Directors” for one company have close ties to the “Board of Directors” for other companies; so, perhaps they get together and all agree on what they feel is acceptable salary ranges for the workers – and they agree to keep the rates near the bottom.

If STL ever wants to seriously take on the big-boys, then these old-boy-network-tight-wads will have to open the purse strings to attract better talent. This not only goes for the Cardinals, but all organizations which require a highly-skilled and talented work force.