La Russa could tie for 2nd-longest tenure with Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa agreed to a three-year contract
extension with the St. Louis Cardinals after taking them to their
first World Series in 17 seasons.

He also said Saturday that the Cardinals are close to a new
contract for general manager Walt Jocketty.

La Russa, 60, led the Cardinals to 105 victories and the
National League championship last season. St. Louis has been to the
playoffs five times in his nine years with the club.

The new contract will keep him in place through 2007, which
would tie La Russa with Red Schoendienst for the second-longest
tenure as the Cardinals' manager.

"I never look too far ahead, but that gets my attention," La
Russa said. "If it works out -- 12 years, I would have never
thought that."

After the Cardinals' third-place finish in the NL Central in
2003, La Russa wasn't so certain about his future with the team.
Last year he wondered aloud whether he'd still be managing when the
team's new stadium opens in 2006.

La Russa has never moved from northern California, and for a
time in St. Louis he lived in the shadow of Whitey Herzog. He has
felt more accepted in recent seasons, and winning is a big reason.

"It all has to do with the season you're playing," La Russa
said. "It's a real fickle thing. So you should never feel too

La Russa likes the moves the Cardinals have made since losing to
the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, notably the trade for
17-game winner Mark Mulder and the signings of infielders David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek.

"We've really worked hard, and we've been creative," La Russa
said. "The front office and ownership have done their part to put
a good team on the field."

The Cardinals might not be done yet, either. La Russa said the
Cardinals continue to work on a contract with free agent second
baseman Roberto Alomar. La Russa said Alomar would compete for a
starting job if he signs.

"I know we've been talking," La Russa said. "I think he's one
of the smartest players I've ever competed against."