Tony La Russa returning as Cardinals manager

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After taking some time to ponder his future after the Dodgers swept the Cardinals out of the playoffs Tony La Russa will return for his 15th season as St. Louis’ manager, officially agreeing to a one-year contract with a 2011 option this afternoon.
At the press conference announcing his decision La Russa confirmed that Mark McGwire will be taking over for Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, saying: “I don’t know how many years I have left to manage, and I wanted to take this opportunity to invite a guy who I think has a very special talent.”
While the McGwire news will overshadow just about anything Cardinals related for the near future, the announcement that longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan will also be back in 2010 is likely to have a much bigger impact. La Russa and Duncan are one of the most successful manager-coach combos in baseball history, and Duncan’s ability to find gold in seemingly washed-up veterans like Joel Pineiro and Ryan Franklin is second-to-none.
Prior to hiring La Russa (and Duncan) in 1996 the Cardinals had missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons under Joe Torre and Whitey Herzog, but in the 14 years since then they’ve gone 1,232-1,034 (.544) with eight postseason appearances, two NL pennants, and a World Series win in 2006. La Russa ranks third all-time in career wins with 2,552 and the future Hall of Famer has spent 31 of his 65 years as a big-league manager.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.