ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 5: Manager Tony LaRussa #10 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on from the dugout against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on September 5 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Reds 4-2. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

La Russa, Duncan Returning To Cardinals in 2011

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Dave Duncan, Mark McGwire To Return As Cardinals Coaches Alongside Tony La Russa

Last week, Tony La Russa agreed to terms to return as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, with a mutual option for 2012. That answered the biggest question surrounding the Cardinals' coaching staff, but other questions still remained - such as what would become of pitching coach Dave Duncan and hitting coach Mark McGwire.

Monday, we've found out that Duncan will return, while McGwire almost certainly will as well:

The Cardinals and pitching coach Dave Duncan have agreed upon a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2013. The deal represents a departure from the front office's initial sentiment to award only one-year deals to manager Tony La Russa's coaching staff.
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A source familiar with the situation indicated a belief that hitting coach Mark McGwire will return for a second season after weighing whether he should step aside due to family reasons.

Duncan is believed to be perhaps the best pitching coach in the game, having made a name for himself by turning supposed reclamation projects into contributing starters and relievers. He is a coach the Cardinals were in no hurry to see get away, and so they'll be thrilled to have him back.

As for McGwire, there's no consensus opinion on how good or bad he is in his current position. The family reasons alluded to in the paragraph above refer to the fact that McGwire and his wife very recently had triplets, which has understandably made the home life quite a bit more stressful.

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Viva El Birdos: And So TonyWatch 2010 Ends

The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff will look conspicuously like the 2010 version. Bullpen coach Marty Mason is out, but if that’s the cost of doing business to keep LaRussa, then Cardinals fans are fine with it.

That ‘save one’ is long time bullpen coach Marty Mason. Mason is being “fired” and it’s being framed in terms of the ongoing dispute over the player development system. I’ve always had a positive opinion of Mason (though if you asked me why, I’d likely sputter a non-sensical “Just ’Cause.”

If the change to Jeff Luhnow’s office door plaque was deemed a demotion or step backwards of some sort for his clout within the organization, this firing has to be a strong repudiation that the analytical/scouting department is losing sway.

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