Tony La Russa expected back with Cardinals in 2012

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Regardless of what happens in Game 7 tonight Tony La Russa is expected to return as Cardinals manager next season, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Officially both La Russa and the Cardinals must decide on their respective half of his mutual option within two weeks after the World Series ends, but Strauss expects the 67-year-old manager to announce his return within days.

Next season would be his 17th as Cardinals manager and La Russa is just 35 wins from passing John McGraw for second place on the all-time list behind Connie Mack. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball at around $5 million and has had a winning record in 11 of the past 12 seasons.

And if the Cardinals win tonight it’ll be La Russa’s third championship.