Tony La Russa's decision to retire on top on Monday now puts the reigning World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals on the search for a new manager.

La Russa didn't mention any successor during his press conference, but some are already pushing names that they think could keep free agent superstar Albert Pujols in St. Louis.

The popular name being bandied about in St. Louis is third-base coach Jose Oquendo, who apparently has the support of Pujols and catcher Yadier Molina.

Albert would stay if Oquendo got the job, former Cardinal David Eckstein told ... The guys love Jose. When I was there, I could tell they were grooming him to be the next manager if he stayed around.

Keeping Pujols happy could ultimately factor into the Cardinals' decision making, but don't expect the team's management to pick Oquendo just because he is well-liked by the team. Similar to the Los Angeles Lakers coaching search when the team hired Mike Brown, despite Kobe Bryant supporting assistant coach Brian Show -- the Cardinals going to do what is best for them.

Love or hate La Russa, it's clear that his analytical approach to the game helped propel the Cardinals from an unlikely playoff team to World Series champs. It could be impossible to replace a Hall of Fame manager like La Russa, but expect the team to do its due diligence.

We just have to look at what we think best fits the personality of this current club and how to make it work. ... I don't want to get into characteristics of what we're searching for yet, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the Belleville News-Democrat. I want to kind of go through that internally first. There are multiple profiles we've already looked at.

Cardinals management told reporters that they wouldn't rule out a candidate if he didn't have major league managerial experience. This allows people like Oquendo and hitting coach Mark McGwire to remain somewhat viable candidates.

The right approach has to be to let somebody develop their own identity, Mozeliak said. There are a couple of ways we can approach this. We can look for somebody that has managerial experience or we could go with somebody that's young and looking for their first chance. That's why you have the interview process.

In addition to Oquendo and McGwire, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and Atlanta Braves third-base coach Terry Pendleton have been mentioned as possible candidates. Francona has shown a knack for managing in winning two World Series titles with the Red Sox, but left after allowing his club to complete the worst collapse in baseball history.

Pendleton played for legendary Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog from 1984-90, but is also been rumored to be a candidate for the vacant Red Sox and Cubs openings.