ST. LOUIS — Tony La Russa ended the usual post-season suspense, agreeing to a 16th season as St. Louis Cardinals manager.
The team announced a deal Monday that included a mutual option for the 2012 season. Financial terms were not disclosed on the new contract, finalized 15 days after the end of a disappointing season that left the 66-year-old La Russa wondering if he’d worn out his welcome.
"For the last 10 days or so, Tony and I have had daily dialogue," general manager John Mozeliak said. "And I’m happy to report that we’re welcoming him back."
The team planned a news conference Tuesday for La Russa, who agreed to a one-year contract for the second straight season. Last year’s deal did not include a mutual option.
Mozeliak said La Russa got assurances that all parties were on the same page regarding how to best build a contender.
Bullpen coach Marty Mason will not be retained, but the rest of coaching staff will be offered contracts this week. The team said it would fill the bullpen coach vacancy from within.
Mozeliak indicated that he and Mason had philosophical differences.
"You look at this group of coaches, they’ve been together a long time, and I think having some new faces up here certainly would help," the general manager said. "It was time to make a change."
La Russa has a franchise-record 1,318 wins since joining the team as manager in 1996 and has 2,638 wins overall for third on the major league career list, needing 126 wins to pass John McGraw for second place. He has managed 4,935 games, second on the list.
The Cardinals have won eight division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series title in 2006 under La Russa, but the franchise has not made it to the post-season in three of the last four seasons.
The Cardinals were heavily favoured to win the NL Central but collapsed the final two months and were 86-76, five games behind the Cincinnati Reds. La Russa hasn’t publicly commented on his status since driving home to northern California a few days after the end of the season.
Apparently, a sticking point was security for the coaching staff. Pitching coach Dave Duncan, who has been with La Russa for 28 seasons, said recently he’d like to coach three more years.