In part one of this article, I introduced the question of whether a factor in assessing a manager’s lifetime impact should include the number of future managers he developed. It is an not an area in which St. Louis’ Tony La Russa has excelled compared to some of his most prominent peers.
More prolific MLB managerial breeders such as Bobby Cox and Mike Scioscia were cited as well as a look at several more expansive coaching trees in the National Football League.
In La Russa’s 31-year managerial career, he has employed at least* 41 different coaches. Only two of them later became first-time managers, Jim Leyland and Jim Lefebvre. Neither occurred in the last 20 years.
Also note the ages of these gentlemen. They are contemporaries of La Russa, not younger men mentored by the manager.
|Current age||Years managing|
|Tony La Russa||64||30+|
|MLB manager post-TLR||Current age||# years with TLR||Hired mgr|
|Jim Lefebvre||67||2 before, 2 after||1989|
|Jim Leyland||64||4 before||1986|
Since 1979, La Russa also employed four others who had been Major League skippers prior to joining his staff.
In one case, that of Rene Lachemann, the individual returned to coaching for La Russa after having been fired as a skipper elsewhere but later left the staff for his third MLB managerial shot. Two of them, Doug Rader and Bobby Winkles, were only with La Russa for a short time some years years ago.
Current Cardinals hitting coach Hal McRae managed both Kansas City and Tampa Bay in the past. He is now in his fifth season in St. Louis. Notice again the ages of all these coaches compared to La Russa.
|MLB manager pre-TLR||Current age||# years with TLR||TLR years|
|Rene Lachemann||64||9||87-92, 97-99|
|Doug Rader||64||1.5||1986, 1992|
The positive side of this story is related to the clear benefits received through a staff that has remained together over a very long time. Yet some see it as ideal with no downside to La Russa’s approach.
It has been years since the Cardinals organization has rewarded one of their minor league coaches with the visibility of a spot on the big league staff. Specifically, it hasn’t happened since Joe Pettini (front left, pictured with La Russa) joined in 2002. Technically, he had been minor league field coordinator since last coaching in the minors in 1996, La Russa’s first year in St. Louis.
When La Russa added a new position to his staff prior to last season, assistant hitting coach, he brought in one of his former Oakland players, Mike Aldrete, instead of promoting from within.
I have no way of knowing why La Russa adopted this approach, whether it is his legendary attention to detail, tenacity or something else, but I do see this as one area in his sure Hall of Fame career in which he has lagged behind.
Even when third base coach Jose Oquendo is given his managerial chance, it will not dramatically open up La Russa’s notoriously dry pipeline.
Bonus: Following are the year-by-year details of La Russa’s 31 years of coaching staffs. The ages of the current coaches are noted in parentheses below. Those who were MLB managers at some point are in bold.
|2009||Dave Duncan (63)||Joe Pettini (54)||Dave McKay (59)||Jose Oquendo (45)||Hal McRae (63)||Marty Mason (51)|
|2008||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Hal McRae||Marty Mason|
|2007||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Hal McRae||Marty Mason|
|2006||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Hal McRae||Marty Mason|
|2005||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Hal McRae||Marty Mason|
|2004||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Mitchell Page||Marty Mason|
|2003||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Mitchell Page||Marty Mason|
|2002||Dave Duncan||Joe Pettini||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Mitchell Page||Marty Mason|
|2001||Dave Duncan||Mark DeJohn||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Easler/Page||Marty Mason|
|2000||Dave Duncan||Mark DeJohn||Dave McKay||Jose Oquendo||Mike Easler||Marty Mason|
|1999||Dave Duncan||Jose Oquendo||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Mike Easler||Mark DeJohn|
|1998||Dave Duncan||Carney Lansford||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Dave Parker||Mark DeJohn|
|1997||Dave Duncan||Carney Lansford||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||George Hendrick||Mark DeJohn|
|1996||Dave Duncan||Ron Hassey||Dave McKay||Tommie Reynolds||George Hendrick||Mark DeJohn|
|1995||Dave Duncan||Carney Lansford||Dave McKay||Tommie Reynolds||Jim Lefebvre||Art Kusyner|
|1994||Dave Duncan||Carney Lansford||Dave McKay||Tommie Reynolds||Jim Lefebvre||Art Kusyner|
|1993||Dave Duncan||Carney Lansford||Dave McKay||Tommie Reynolds||Greg Luzinski||Art Kusyner|
|1992||Dave Duncan||Tommie Reynolds||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Doug Rader||Art Kusyner|
|1991||Dave Duncan||Tommie Reynolds||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Rick Burleson||Art Kusyner|
|1990||Dave Duncan||Tommie Reynolds||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Merv Rettenmund||Art Kusyner|
|1989||Dave Duncan||Tommie Reynolds||Dave McKay||Rene Lachemann||Merv Rettenmund||Art Kusyner|
|1988||Dave Duncan||Bob Watson||Rene Lachemann||Jim Lefebvre||Jim Lefebvre||Mike Paul|
|1987||Dave Duncan||Joe Rudi||Rene Lachemann||Jim Lefebvre||Bob Watson||Mike Paul|
|1986||Dave Duncan||Bob Didier||Dave McKay||Ron Plaza/Joe Rudi||Bob Watson||Jeff Newman|
|1986#||Dave Duncan||Ed Brinkman||Doug Rader||Joe Nossek||Art Kusyner|
|1985||Dave Duncan||Ed Brinkman||Mike Lum||Jim Leyland||Joe Nossek||Art Kusyner|
|1984||Dave Duncan||Ed Brinkman||Dave Nelson||Jim Leyland||Joe Nossek||Art Kusyner|
|1983||Dave Duncan||E. Brinkman/L. Babe||Dave Nelson||Jim Leyland||Charlie Lau||Art Kusyner|
|1982||R. Schueler/K. Silvestri||Dave Nelson||Jim Leyland||Charlie Lau||Art Kusyner|
|1981||Ron Schueler||Dave Nelson||Vada Pinson||Bobby Winkles||Art Kusyner|
|1980||Ron Schueler||Loren Babe||Orlando Cepeda||Minnie Minoso||Bobby Winkles||Art Kusyner|
|1979||Fred Martin||Joe Sparks||Bobby Winkles|
* I said “at least” because I relied on Retrosheet data for the identities of La Russa’s staffs in Oakland and Chicago and that information was not always labeled clearly, especially when changes were made during the season. Also as a result, the coaching roles in the 1980’s and late 1970’s may not be completely accurate, though I have no reason to believe the names are not.
# Two additional coaches in 1986 were hired (and later reassigned out) by then-Chicago White Sox GM Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Moe Drabowsky and Willie Horton.