Tony La Russa will return as Cardinals manager in 2011

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After taking a few weeks to consider his options Tony La Russa has decided to return as the Cardinals’ manager, agreeing to a one-year deal with an option for 2012.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals will offer 2011 contracts to La Russa’s entire coaching staff except for bullpen coach Marty Mason, who’s been let go after 25 years in the organization.

Despite his taking some time to make an official decision La Russa’s return has been assumed for a while now and with an excellent core of Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Jaime Garcia, and Colby Rasmus the Cardinals are sure to be contenders in 2011 after disappointingly going 86-76 this season.

However, it remains to be seen if Rasmus will be around in 2011 after reportedly feuding with La Russa for much of the season. He’s one of the best young all-around players in baseball, hitting .276/.361/.498 with 23 homers in 144 games as a 23-year-old center fielder, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Cardinals think he can co-exist with the 66-year-old La Russa for another season (or maybe even two).

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.