The La Russa Era will continue in St. Louis. The Cardinals announced Monday that Tony La Russa, the winningest manager in franchise history, has agreed to a new contract for the upcoming 2011 season, with a mutual option for the 2012 season. St. Louis had previously been uncertain whether La Russa would return. The agreement followed a week-plus of discussions between Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and La Russa.
"For the last 10 days or so, Tony and I have had daily dialogue. And I'm happy to report that we're welcoming him back," said Mozeliak, who indicated one of the topics of discussion was how to go about rebuilding the team to contend in the NL Central. Mozeliak assured La Russa that everyone was in accord on how to proceed. La Russa is expected in St. Louis on Tuesday to discuss the development in person, but he immediately made his feelings known in a Twitter message: "Excited and fortunate to return to STLC. Playoffs are fun, missing them is not. Try to get back to fun times in 2011," La Russa tweeted upon announcement of the agreement. La Russa, 66, has the most victories in franchise history (1,318) and the third most in Major League Baseball history (2,763). He's spent 15 seasons with the Cardinals, leading them to 12 winning seasons, eight division titles, two National League pennants and the 2006 World Series championship. La Russa also ranks first among St. Louis managers in games (2,429) at the helm. "We are excited to have Tony returning and are looking forward to 2011," said Bill DeWitt Jr., the team's chairman and chief executive officer, as part of a prepared statement. "He has guided the team in one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history and we are pleased that he will continue that leadership next season." La Russa, who has also managed the White Sox and A's, trails Hall-of-Famers Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) on the all-time wins list. He is just the second St. Louis field boss to post two 100-win seasons and is the only manager other than Sparky Anderson to lead a team from each league to a World Series title. Relief pitcher Trever Miller quickly applauded the development, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the return of La Russa "is the icing on the cake, for us, for our team. I love that Tony is coming back. He's our general. The army can't go forward without the general." The Cardinals have been successful in the standings and at the turnstiles during La Russa's tenure. St. Louis has surpassed 3 million in attendance 12 times in the past 15 years, and the Cardinals have finished no lower than third place over that span. St. Louis won a league-best 913 games during the 2000s, adding a league-high 33 postseason wins to boot. The Cardinals also announced Monday that they have extended contracts to the rest of La Russa's coaching staff, with one exception. Bullpen coach Marty Mason will not be retained, and the Cardinals said as part of their released statement that they expect to fill his position from within the organization. "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," Mozeliak said. "It was time to make a change."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.