General manager John Mozeliak said on Sunday that if La Russa wanted to be back, he'd be brought back for a 15th season managing the Cardinals. For his part, La Russa said what he usually says at this time of year: that he has a series of questions to ask himself, and if they're all answered in the affirmative, he would like to take another spin with the Cardinals. St. Louis was eliminated from the postseason on Saturday night with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
"The formula is still the same," La Russa said. "Do the guys still respond to your leadership? You've got to think about it. If the answer is yes, then you go to the next steps. I don't know. We'll see. I just started thinking about it, so I can't give you an answer. I know what the formula is."
La Russa's longstanding checklist starts, as he mentioned, with the players. It then goes to the front office and ownership, which evidently is a box already checked off, and then to whether the fans and media are open to his presence for another year. And, of course, there's the question of his desire to go through the grind for another year.
One area that looks to be in La Russa's favor is his relationship with Mozeliak. Never entirely fractured, it was at least somewhat cautious when Mozeliak replaced La Russa confidant Walt Jocketty.
"When I look back at it, how the relationship and the working environment moved, I would say yeah, it got more positive," Mozeliak said. "You'd have to ask him this, but I do feel he's more comfortable with how things ended up."
La Russa's contract ran through 2009, as did the contracts of most of his coaches. Pitching coach Dave Duncan, however, has a mutual option for 2010. Duncan expressed displeasure with the direction of the organization in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch late in the summer, and some Cardinals veterans have acknowledged that they will not be surprised if Duncan chooses not to return.
La Russa and Mozeliak, though, would both like to have the pitching coach extraordinaire back for 2010.
"Our staff hasn't talked," La Russa said. "I just said on the radio today that I really believe that our front office and ownership like our coaching staff. So we'll see. ... We've got a hell of a coaching staff. I don't think anybody's situation is settled. My situation, I haven't thought about it. So you take one step at a time."
Mozeliak said on Saturday night that the Cardinals might be likely to address their coaches' situations before moving on to discussions with their free-agent players.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.