Deeper look at options to follow La Russa

Deeper look at options to follow La Russa

Deeper look at options to follow La Russa
As of now, the Cardinals are playing it very close to the vest on a potential replacement for the retired Tony La Russa. General manager John Mozeliak said he has maintained a list in his mind for a possible successor, but that list is likely to change as candidates step forward and others are eliminated in the coming days.

Here's a look at some names that could factor into the decision, and why they might or might not make sense:

Terry Francona
The former manager of the Red Sox would like to get back in the dugout this year, and it's hard to envision a better scenario than with the reigning World Series champions. He's handled a bigger stage than this, and an experienced team with big personalities would be no problem for him.

Dave Duncan
Though he's been La Russa's top lieutenant for decades, this is a virtual non-starter. Duncan's return as a pitching coach is uncertain, never mind whether he'd want the head job. He has little tolerance for media inquiries. More importantly, he's tending to his wife, who is dealing with a serious medical issue.

Mark McGwire
Probably an even longer shot than Duncan, despite his success as hitting coach. He's never managed, anywhere, at any level, and some prior managing experience is one of the club's desired qualifications. He's also an intensely private person who is more likely to return to being a father than step up to a higher-profile gig.

Jose Oquendo
He wants to manage. He's an icon in St. Louis. The question is whether he's ready for this job, right now. He's interviewed for managing jobs before and been turned down, and this is not exactly an ideal starter job. He's managed in Puerto Rico and in the World Baseball Classic, which is a nice start. While some in the area consider him the heir apparent, it's definitely not that cut-and-dried.

Terry Pendleton
If the Cards want a St. Louis connection, there's certainly one here, and Pendleton plied his trade under two of the game's best -- Whitey Herzog (when he played) and Bobby Cox (as a coach in Atlanta).

Joe Maddon
There may not be a better manager in the game, and Maddon has a well-documented affinity for St. Louis and the Cardinals. Some compensation would be required to get him away from the Rays, but Mozeliak did not rule out contacting other clubs about their managers. This would be a home-run hire. It would also likely require home-run compensation.

Jim Riggleman
If Riggleman had been dismissed or resigned at the end of the year, he might well be near the top of the Cardinals' list. He has worked successfully with the team's front office and knows many of the younger players in the organization from his time on the St. Louis Minor League staff. It remains to be seen, though, how much his midseason departure from the Nationals will hurt his chances at further managing opportunities.

Chris Maloney
He's had quite a bit of success as the manager at Triple-A Memphis, and he is just about an organizational lifer. Maloney has no Major League coaching or managing experience, though, and the leap from Memphis to St. Louis is not a small one.

Mike Matheny
If the job had come open in another couple of years, he might be a name to take more seriously. Just about no one is more respected within the organization, and he's been working in the front office, but he still has no experience as a member of a professional field staff. Matheny has stated a preference to hold off on taking a coaching job until his kids are all out of the house, and that time hasn't come yet.

Pete Mackanin
There's no Cardinals connection here. The Phillies' bench coach is just a well-respected, experienced coach and manager who's getting some long looks this offseason.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.