Three days later

So Tony LaRussa led the Cardinals to a World Series title night Friday night, and Monday he retired from baseball.

Totally didn't see that coming. I figured he had at least another year in him. ... Still, I say, good for him to going out on top. Tony truly did it his way.

Then, there's the Red Sox mess in Boston. No baseball fan will soon forget Boston's collossal collapse in September, ending with that incredible night of Sept. 28. I sat in our hotel room in Kansas City that weekend reading, somewhat bemusedly, about Terry Francona's resignation -- or firing, depending on what you believe. And then The Boston Globe dropped the bomb a couple weeks ago with its story about the Red Sox clubhouse and a few players' cravings for Popeye's chicken. That story doesn't appear to be going away any time soon either.

Good reads ... 
a Francona: John Henry didn’t ask him to stay
a Red Sox Nation is hurting diplomatic relations
a Red Sox’ biggest loss is their credibility
a Riveting drama at Fenway theater
a In ‘04, Bill Mueller's glory was stolen amid Red Sox comeback
a Red Sox’ Jon Lester 1st to admit clubhouse drinking
a Jon Lester’s confession fails to absolve
a Embarrassed Jason Varitek says Red Sox stuck together
a September was a horror show, but it had nothing on these ghouls

Of course, what makes the Red Sox downfall more interesting is ... Theo's in Chicago now!
There are so many things wrong with the Sox at this hour, it’s difficult to know where to start. The manager is gone, the general manager is gone, the owners are in hiding, and the players are a loathsome lot totally unworthy of the money and adulation they receive.

Theo Epstein’s gone. It was a seismic event when he quit in 2005. This time, his departure is lost in the mix as the Sox go from freefall to nuclear fallout. The Fenway lawn is scorched earth.
Seriously. I'm as excited about Theo coming to Chi-Town as every other Cubs fan. But I'm also in no denial that Theo has a lot of work ahead of him if he's going to turn the Cubs into a contender. I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll be able to work his Red Sox magic (which didn't always work out ... ) in Chicago.

Good reads ...
a Epstein says farewell to Boston with full-page ad
aCubs history lesson for Theo Epstein
aTheories on Cubs' failures abound
a Coming to Chicago would bring pressure with it
a Are Red Sox making a big mistake?
a Epstein deserves benefit of doubt
a Epstein introducing 'Cubs Way'
a Changes likely at Wrigley Field?
a Epstein vindicates Cubs fan on Starbucks sighting

And that brings us to the manager search. ...

Dale Sveum and Mike Maddux seem to be the names that keep popping up, and deservedly so. Based on my observations of them over the years, especially with their contributions to the rise of our beloved Brewers, both of them appear to be great baseball men. It was only a matter of time before they got their shots. Now you throw Terry Francona and the St. Louis Cardinals into the mix and you've got three storied franchises gunning for any one of three guys who could be a good fit for their clubs.

My bet is that Sveum gets the Red Sox job and Francona follows Theo to the Cubs, although I could also see Francona turning down the Cubs job and sitting out for a season or two. That would leave Maddux for a shot at the Cubs job, but I'm thinking he sticks with the good thing he's got going with the Texas Rangers. I wouldn't mind seeing Ryne Sandberg in the dugout either, but that appears to be a longshot ... As for who takes the Cardinals' job? I haven't got a clue.

Good reads ...
a Francona is the easy choice for Cardinals
a Hiring Francona, Part 2
a Maddux will make his pitch to Red Sox

As for where Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder land ...

I think there's no way Pujols leaves St. Louis. The city adores him. He's the centerpiece of the franchise. He's had a special kind of success there that I doubt he'll be able to duplicate anywhere else. It would be a blunder for both the Cardinals and Pujols if they seperated.

Now, Prince is a wild card. A lot of the marquee teams are set at first base; teams that are known for throwing money around, like the Yankees or Red Sox, probably won't bite on Prince. And when I look around and see who's left, I don't see a lot of places where Prince would enjoy playing as much as he's appeared to enjoy playing in Milwaukee.

Detroit could be a possibility, but Prince has a grudge against his dad that will keep that from happening. Washington, D.C., could be a possibility but the Nationals are years from contending.

Maybe he'll go to the Rangers, the Cubs or the Angels. But, like Albert and the Cardinals, I think Prince has a good thing going in Milwaukee. To this point, Prince has been careful about his language, and he hasn't exactly shut the door on returning to Milwaukee. In fact,  I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed put.

Let the offseason begin.

Good reads ...
a Dear Prince and Albert, please stay
a Pujols hits free agent market for first time

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