The Cardinals announced Saturday night that Mike Matheny has been fired, along with hitting coach John Mabry and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller. This all came after another embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Reds that dropped the Cards to 47-46 on the season. For the time being, Mike Shildt will step into the open position as interim manager.
Mike Matheny Fired
Mike Matheny was brought in as the Cardinals manager in 2012. He was touted by the front office and ownership for his ability to be a leader of men. Recently, that had become his only remaining attribute. That was until multiple stories came out about clubhouse issues.
It appeared like Matheny had lost control of his team. The public might never know for sure whether or not that was the case, but apparently, John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. felt he had.
Matheny’s issues managing a bullpen and his late-inning decisions with the lineup were evident. He still had the ‘leader of men’ thing going though. Then, when rumors swirled of players blocking his texts and veterans tormenting rookies in the clubhouse, he lost that too. The last straw was the team’s second straight blowout loss to the last place Reds.
Management was out of options, something had to be done. They still believe this is a playoff team and that Matheny was holding them back, so firing him was the right move. Unfortunately, they’re only half right. Matheny was holding the team back, but, this is not a playoff team.
Dealt a Tough Hand
It was probably time for the Cardinals to move on from Mike Matheny. However, this season, and the last three seasons, has not been all on him.
John Mozeliak has done everything in his power to make sure the Cardinals have been right on the edge of making the playoffs for three years now. They’ve been just competitive enough to have a glimpse of hope down the stretch, ultimately falling short. He’s constructed teams that have been capable of playing consistently inconsistent baseball, showing signs of greatness at times and pitifulness at others.
The 2018 season has been no different. Sure, Mike Matheny has been at the root of some of the poor play, but it’s hard to make the case that any manager could win with this team. The lineup is full of complimentary players and most of them aren’t even playing that well anymore and the starting rotation is being held down by Miles Mikolas in his first year back to the big leagues after spending four years overseas. That’s not to mention the mess that is the bullpen
John Mozeliak Shares Some of the Blame
Most of Matheny’s problems could be solved with a better-constructed roster. He’s had issues with putting together a lineup, but it doesn’t matter who is playing when they are all effectively the same player. His biggest Achilles heel was the management of the pitching staff. Media and fans criticized him for leaving pitchers in too long, or overusing his best bullpen guys, but he’s not had many other options. He can take a starter out early and get beat with the bullpen, or leave him in and hope he keeps going well. In the bullpen, he can keep going to the only guys who get outs until their arms fall off, or he can let the ineffective pitchers blow the game.
This is by no means an apologetic article for Matheny. He without a doubt had flaws that could not be overlooked. However, he has been put in a very tough spot for three years in a row. Now that he’s gone, all the pressure is on John Mozeliak.
Matheny’s Managing Career
One day down the road, when all the stuff that led to his firing is forgotten, Mike Matheny might be looked at as a very successful manager. Even now, just a look at his numbers makes him look very favorable. Obviously these stats don’t tell the whole story, but nonetheless, they are what they are.
In his six-plus years as Cardinals manager, Matheny posted a 591-474 record. Good for a .555 winning percentage and fifth all-time among Cardinals managers in wins. He made the postseason in his first four seasons as the Redbirds skipper, from 2012-18. That includes one National League Championship and a trip to the World Series in 2013. Under Matheny, St. Louis won 90 plus games three times, winning 100 in 2015. They also won three division titles.
Featured Image by Associated Press
“From Our Haus to Yours”