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.