Go ask Albert

Dave van Dyck

Chicago Tribune

Best choice? Whoever Albert wants. And that's being only half-facetious because if the Cardinals have any hope of keeping three-time MVP Albert Pujols, the new manager will have to be someone he likes/respects.

The natural choice would be ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona, especially given the last 31 years of Cardinals big-name managers (Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa). But staff holdover Jose Oquendo also makes sense because he knows the system.

If the Cardinals want a clean slate from the La Russa years as they rebuild with youth, they should pick Ryne Sandberg — and even future Hall of Famer Pujols can't argue with his credentials.

dvandyck@tribune.com

If Francona wants it

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

The Cardinals need someone with more than just people and managerial skills. They also need someone with the gravitas to take over a club that just won the World Series.

At the top of that short list would be one-time Cardinals catcher Joe Girardi. But he already has his dream job with the Yankees. Next would be former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, who was run out of Boston when the team blew the wild-card playoff spot in the final inning of the final game.

But the frat-house environment Francona presided over in Boston won't fly in St. Louis, where La Russa long ran the tightest clubhouse in baseball. However, if Francona can convince management, the players and fans he can be a disciplinarian, this could be a good fit.

kbaxter@tribune.com

Francona has credibility