Tony La Russa joined us on The ITD Morning After yesterday, and he spelled it out pretty clearly: Skip Schumaker's got a chance to be the Cardinal second baseman next year...but Brendan Ryan's going to be under the microscope...and may not have a starting job next season. Here's a couple excerpts from La Russa's interview:

Doug Vaughn:  Tony are you completely sold on Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker as a middle infield for next year?

Tony La Russa:  Uh (Pause), Well I think that Skip if you take it one at a time, I think Skip has done an amazing job you know we won 92 games with him at second base his first time out there and this year you know he was more comfortable making routine plays, and he’s still getting used to the position.  I think what we said at the beginning was, is the truth, there’s a guy that…you know… and he rebounded to have a respectable season you know and he hits at the top of our lineup a lot to be able to get his bat in the lineup and still play three other outfielders you know that’s…for the
personnel we have makes sense.  So I think we’re always looking, whether it’s managers, coaches, or players if there’s somebody better, you know, that’s the issue that you face.  So is there somebody that’s better than Skip at second base?  Well, we’ll see.  But I think Skip is a very competitive guy and we won with him.  Brendan was a different case, I mean Brendan really came backwards, mostly because he’s so emotional and that’s something over the last couple of years before you know he was growing up and doing better about controlling those emotions and was more consistent, last year you know, when he struggled at the plate like Skip did early you know Skip, he refused to, he bent a little bit you know, but he didn’t break, and I think it broke Brendan quite a few times you know he just let those at bats drive him nuts and he’d take it out defensively so again, if there’s somebody better then Brendan’s jobs at risk.  I mean it’s the same for you know, you can’t say about the part of your catching, first base, or left field but…you know center field…but you there’s not many other places that that isn’t true.

Tim McKernan:  Last week in the Dominican Republic Albert Pujols quoted as saying “I hope that before the season begins I get an extension.”  Your view on the Pujols contract situation, and the importance of getting that done this season versus having it linger at the start of spring training and throughout the course of the 2011 campaign. 

La Russa:  Yeah I just read that and after I talked to Albert in the Dominican, we didn’t talk about his contract, it came before he made those comments, I think he’s probably talking about hey, he’d like to get it done because he wants to stay in St. Louis and the organization wants him to stay in St. Louis.  Now it’s a question of the business whether it gets to enough I don’t know, but I think Albert’s probably saying that if it doesn’t get done he’s going to play baseball and he’s not going to mess around contract-wise during the season.  I mean that’s my guess so, everybody wants him to stay, the fans want him to stay, he wants to stay, we want him to stay the economics are the thing and we’ll let that play out I just don’t know how that’s all going to work out I think that’s what Albert’s saying, once it gets into the season he’s not going to be messing around with a contract. 

Listen to the full Tony La Russa interview:

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