With Tony La Russa retiring, it’s not unreasonable to wonder what pitching coach Dave Duncan’s future holds. He’s been La Russa’s partner in crime for nearly 30 years, following him from Chicago to Oakland and then finally on to St. Louis. Does he ride off in the sunset at the same time as La Russa? Does he stay put? Does he take another pitching coach job someplace else?
Well, this morning anyway he’s saying — on a radio show, passed along by Gordon Edes on Twitter — that he wants to stay with the Cardinals for 2012. Which, given that he’s still under contract makes sense. But a question: is it not worth asking whether that creates any problems for potential managerial candidates?
Now, it goes without saying that anyone should want Dave Duncan around because he’s the best pitching coach ever. It doesn’t always work that way, however. Duncan’s own experience shows that things work best when a coach is paired with a manager who is on the same page about everything. How would Duncan respond to being with someone else besides La Russa for the first time since 1982? How would the new manager feel if he wasn’t able to get “his guy” in the job?
Maybe it’s not a problem, either because the Cardinals pick someone with enough sense to want to work with Duncan. Maybe it’s not a problem because Duncan is the most adaptable man on the planet. Maybe it’s not a problem because they’re going to promote Jose Oquendo or someone internally for whom none of these assimilation issues would really matter. But it’s definitely an interesting open issue at the moment.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.