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La Russa

La Russa needs a multiple-year deal

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Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa is beginning his 16th season as Cardinals manager -- an incredible run by any measure. (David Carson |

Tony La Russa doesn't need my advice, but I'll go ahead and offer it anyway: If he's coming back to the Cardinals, then he should sign a multi-year deal.

These formal one-year arrangements do not work for him. I believe the annual uncertainty erodes La Russa's authority in the clubhouse. I believe it impacts his ability to motivate players. If the fellows think the boss is planning to leave at the end of the season, they won't be as inclined to tune him in. They won't fear him as much. If they think there's a chance they'll have a new manager, then pleasing La Russa becomes less of a priority.

That's just human nature. But if La Russa is armed with a multiyear deal, he'll have everyone's attention. I think the security provided by a multiple-years hammer serves to reinforce La Russa's authority. But perpetual lame-duck status has the opposite effect.

If pitching coach Dave Duncan is willing to go three more years, La Russa should do the same, or at least close to it. (Besides, he doesn't have to stay all three years. He can retire when he wants). But this uncertainty of going from year to year without knowing about TLR's status ... well, it's getting old. But more than that, it simply does not help his cause.

There was an interesting development Friday: apparently nervous about the media/fan unrest over La Russa's slow deliberations, the Cardinals contacted reporters to assure everyone that GM John Mozeliak and TLR were continuing to have positive discussions. And that everything was proceeding smoothly.

That tells me we can expect TLR to return. I'd probably anticipate some changes in his coaching staff. And I would not be surprised if La Russa agrees to at least a two-year deal. And I'd think he'd also want security for his coaches. The status of La Russa's staff is likely under discussion.

La Russa needs two more seasons to get the 126 wins he needs to pass John McGraw and move into second place on the leaderboard for most career victories by a major-league manager. So that's another reason a two-year deal (at least) makes sense.

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I think I can say, without hesitation, that we're all rooting for rookie Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander. Now that he's been cleared medically, I hope the coaches give him a real shot to emerge as a receiving option for Sam Bradford. The former Missouri wideout has been through so much: four knee operations, career setbacks, not being drafted, worrying about the future, wondering if he'd ever receive an opportunity. "DX" has endured so much. He's displayed remarkable perseverance. Alexander is overdue for some good luck. And so are the Rams.

Why would the Blues be surprised by Nashville coming out strong in the first period of Thursday's game? That makes no sense. I thought "every game counts" — especially the third game of the season. Sheesh. ... Rookie Rams offensive tackle Rodger Saffold got taken to school in Detroit by Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. It was a rough day in class for Saffold — but not unexpected. It'll be interesting to see how he responds against San Diego, which can get after the quarterback.

Belated congrats to San Diego Padres lefthanded pitcher Joe Thatcher, the former River City Rascal. He worked 65 games in relief for the Padres this season and finished with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 45 in 35 innings. Thatcher is represented by St. Louis-based agent Nick Brockmeyer. ... This weekend longtime DeSmet soccer and baseball coach Greg Vitello will be inducted into the Benedictine College Hall of Fame in Atchison, Kan. Two other St. Louisans will also be inducted for their contributions to the Benedictine soccer program: Tom Gorczyca and the late John Casey.

We'll soon know if Missouri's football team is worthy of its spot in the national rankings. Today's game at Texas A&M should be difficult; the Aggies are desperate for a signature win, having lost of 11 of their last 14 home games against ranked Big 12 opponents. And the Tigers haven't been strong on the road against Big 12 South teams, having lost three of the last four and four of their last six. After this stretch against Texas A&M, Oklahoma (home), Nebraska (away) and Texas Tech (away), we'll have a handle on MU's legitimacy.

It'll be interesting to see how much the Rams' passing game will change now that injured tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Billy Bajema are returning to action. Especially Big Mike, who flashed surprisingly good receiving skills during the preseason. According to STATS LLC, the Rams have used a two-tight end formation on only 60 snaps this season. But when the Rams have used two tight ends, it gives Bradford additional targets over the middle. In two-TE formations Bradford has completed 60 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 83.0.

Bradford has had 16 passes dropped in five games; that's the most drops of any NFL quarterback. Twelve percent of Bradford's incompletions this season have been because of dropped passes. Rams WR Brandon Gibson is tied with two other NFL wideouts for having the most drops (five) in the NFL this season. And Danny Amendola (four) is right behind. ... The Rams' "Greatest Show" receivers will reunite the weekend of Oct. 29-31. Isaac Bruce tells me that Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakim will attend the ceremony to retire Bruce's No. 80. And they'll be at the Bruce charity foundation fundraiser at the Lumiere casino on Friday, Oct. 29.

Former Mizzou quarterback Brad Smith continues to be a superb all-around performer for the NY Jets. So far this season Smith has rushed 10 times for 83 yards, thrown a touchdown pass, caught a pass for a first down and returned 10 kickoffs for an average of 32.2 yards. ... For those on Twitter, classy Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton is chronicling his recovery from his knee injury and surgery, including photos. His twitter handle is mjclayton89.

The Rams should take a flyer on former Oklahoma wideout Juaquin Iglesias, a third-round draft pick in 2009 by the Chicago Bears. Iglesias is on the Bears' practice squad. He had excellent chemistry with Bradford at OU. In 2007-2008, Bradford and Iglesias hooked up for 142 completions, 15 for TDs. ... Over the last two seasons, the Cardinals have been starved offensively in production from their third basemen, ranking 29th among the 30 MLB teams in extra-base hits, 26th in onbase percentage, 29th in slugging and 27th in homers (only 23) and in RBIs.

Speaking on the MLB Network on XM satellite radio, former Cardinals outfielder Brian Jordan had this to say about La Russa and the team's 2010 season: "You know I really believe (he's not retiring). He did an excellent job in Oakland and came to St. Louis and pretty much did the same thing. He won a championship. He's been a good leader for that ballclub. I'm baffled, I mean I was really surprised (by) their finish last year. I thought St. Louis was going to come out of the (NL) Central on top, but they fell apart at the end of the year. I don't know, I think he may be done with St. Louis and want to try something new."


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Bernie Miklasz says: La Russa’s long silence raises concerns about whether he's capable of maintaining energy, enthusiasm for another long season at age 66.

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