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La Russa retires, which impacts the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 31, 2011 11:40 AM

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In case you were harboring unrealistic hopes that the Red Sox could hire Tony La Russa as their next manager, forget it. He announced his retirement this morning in St. Louis.

Though a free agent, there was little chance La Russa was going to manage anywhere but St. Louis if he decided to stay in the dugout.

His leaving could have a ripple effect on the Red Sox.

Dave Duncan, La Russa's long-time pitching coach, could be available if he remains active. Duncan, 66, has been with La Russa since 1982.

Duncan is signed through the 2012 season with an option for 2013. But coaches often are given permission to seek employment elsewhere when there's a managerial change. Duncan was obviously loyal to La Russa. The question now is whether he keeps coaching, stays with the Cardinals or looks for another team.

Given that is wife is battling cancer, Duncan could retire and help attend to her.

Now that another prominent team is seeking a manager, the Red Sox could find competition for the better candidates. That could increase if (or when) Theo Epstein fires Mike Quade. Ben Cherington could be wise to move with alacrity.

La Russa's departure could increase the odds of Albert Pujols leaving St. Louis. Free agents almost invariably go where the money is best. But La Russa's departure radically changes the landscape in St Louis.

There is little chance the Red Sox would sign Pujols. But his being on the market and perhaps not necessarily a lock for St. Louis could shift the landscape for other free agents and result in the Sox getting a player they didn't expect.

This move, in theory, opens up a potential landing spot for Terry Francona. Although following La Russa in St. Louis, especially after what transpired this season, is not going to be easy duty.

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