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.

Astros officially announce the Michael Brantley signing

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The Astros officially announced their signing of outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million deal.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

As previously reported, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Brantley.