Cardinals Major League Notebook: 11/10/11
Terry Francona has two World Championships
Terry Francona has two World Championships

Posted Nov 10, 2011


The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly interviewed six candidates to replace manager Tony La Russa. Terry Francona is the only one with experience as an MLB skipper.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona spent Tuesday interviewing for the vacant managerial job of the reigning World Series champion Cardinals.

Francona interviewed with Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. in Cincinnati, where DeWitt lives and runs a private equity firm, Reynolds DeWitt & Co., as well as several other individuals including Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

"We just had a dialogue," Francona told reporters before flying back to Boston. "I enjoy talking about baseball -- a lot. Without going into details, we discussed pretty basic philosophy. I'd call it an enjoyable, casual conversation."

Even though Boston suffered one of the worst September collapses in Major League history, Francona remains a hot property, with interest shown in him by several teams including the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. He has the experience and maturity that DeWitt covets, not to mention much of the same fieriness that endeared Tony LaRussa to Cardinal faithful for the last 17 years before retiring on top two weeks ago after the Cards won the World Series.

Francona said he was given neither any guarantees nor a timeline on when the Cards fill the job. They also have one other major job still to complete, as well: attempting to re-sign slugger Albert Pujols, who is a free agent.

Francona was the fourth candidate to interview the job, following Mike Matheny, Chris Maloney and Joe McEwing. Two others Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Jose Oquendo, interviewed Wednesday. The Cardinals hope to have a manager hired before next week's general manager's meetings in Milwaukee.

"I was just excited to go back in there and talk to them," Francona said of his interview. "Whatever happens, happens. I'm not going anywhere."

Francona has spent 12 years as a big league manager, first for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2000 and from 2004-2011 with the Red Sox, for whom he helped win two World Series (2004, 2007).

NOTES, QUOTES

Bob Forsch, the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who threw two no-hitters and just recently threw out the first pitch of Game 7 of the World Series, died Thursday night.

Forsch, 61, collapsed at his home in Tampa, Fla, after suffering a heart aneurysm, his wife, Jan, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

He was the third-winningest pitcher in Cardinals history with 163 victories in 15 seasons. Forsch was the only pitcher in the team's history to throw two no-hitters, tossing one in 1978 against the Philadelphia Phillies and another in 1983 against the Montreal Expos.

He pitched for three World Series teams during the Cardinals' run under manager Whitey Herzog in the 1980s—1982, '85 and '87.

Forsch went 20-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 1977, his only 20-win season. He won at least 10 games 11 times.

He worked the last few seasons for the Cincinnati Reds as a minor-league pitching coach.

SS Rafael Furcal's and RHP Octavio Dotel's contract options were declined, but the Cardinals maintain interest in re-signing both. Furcal stabilized the infield defense although his on-base percentage as a leadoff man was poor. Dotel pitched well in all manner of relief roles.

RHP Edwin Jackson is a free agent, and the Cardinals probably won't be able to offer him a long-term contract with five starters already under contract in RHPs Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook and LHP Jaime Garcia.

C Yadier Molina won a fourth straight Rawlings Gold Glove for defensive excellence, breaking a tie for the most among Cardinals catchers. Mike Matheny, Molina's mentor, had three in the previous decade, as did Tom Pagnozzi in the 1990s.

2B Skip Schumaker and RHP Kyle McClellan both are arbitration-eligible and might not be back. McClellan, especially, might fall through the cracks with the rotation set and a preponderance of younger right-handed relievers on the roster.

RHP Jason Motte, after seven other pitchers had recorded saves, finally nailed down the closer's role, knocking off nine saves from Aug. 28 on. In the meantime, Motte set the club record for appearances by a right-hander with 78.

BY THE NUMBERS: 34-16 - Cardinals' record from Aug. 25 to end the of the World Series.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's time to end it."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on retiring after 16 seasons as Cardinals manager.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

The Cardinals are coming off a World Series title, but general manager John Mozeliak realizes the big turnaround in the season came in late July and early August when the club changed 20 percent of its roster with five additions. There will be no standing pat, and that trend began three days after the World Series ended when manager Tony La Russa retired after 16 seasons.

 

BIGGEST NEEDS:

 

The top priority, after naming a manager, is re-signing 1B Albert Pujols, the cream of the free agent class. Secondarily, the Cardinals need to address their shortstop-second base situation, which finished with Rafael Furcal, whose option was not picked up, at short and Skip Schumaker, who is arbitration-eligible, at second. Mozeliak has indicated interest in Furcal but at a much lower figure than $12 million. Schumaker, a converted outfielder, has improved at second base, but the Cardinals might not want to pay to keep both.

 

FREE AGENTS:

1B Albert Pujols, RHPs Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel, C Gerald Laird, SS Rafael Furcal, OF Corey Patterson, INF Nick Punto, LHP Arthur Rhodes.

Every effort will be made to re-sign Pujols. Furcal and Dotel command interest by the Cardinals, but they won't be able to give Jackson a long-term deal. Rhodes is next most likely to be sought after by the Cardinals, but there won't be much money for him.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE:

2B/OF Skip Schumaker, RHP Kyle McClellan. INF Ryan Theriot.

All, in theory, could be non-tendered. McClellan is the most likely to dealt. Either Schumaker or Theriot won't be back, and possibly both.

IN LIMBO:

 

RHP Kyle McClellan, who moved back to the bullpen when Jackson was acquired, is in competition with several young right-handed relievers who are less expensive. He wouldn't go back to the rotation, either, with the expected return of RHP Adam Wainwright, who missed 2011 with Tommy John elbow surgery. INF Tyler Greene, who had a strong Class AAA performance and who was going to get a late season look until the Cardinals got back into playoff contention, could be a trade candidate if the club doesn't figure to have a role for him. In limited duty with the Cardinals, Greene led the club in steals with 11 (in 11 attempts).

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Adam Wainwright is expected to go to Jupiter, Fla., just after Jan. 1 to begin throwing in earnest. He expects to be ready for spring training.

LF Matt Holliday might need his right hand, injured twice late in the season, attended to.



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