MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

SUNDAY COLUMN – CARDINALS LET GO OF MATHNEY AS MANAGER

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Coaching or managing a professional team in 2018 and beyond is a “what have you done for me lately” proposition. Proposition never the less a great opportunity to coach or manage the best in its sport.

Well for Mike Mathney the time ran out for him on Saturday and was fired as manager of the St.Louis Cardinals. The move that came shortly after an 8-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds dropped them to 47-46 on the season. The loss put them 7½ games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central. It marks the first time the Cardinals have changed managers during a season since 1995, when Joe Torre was replaced by Mike Jorgensen.

“Mike Matheny has served the St. Louis Cardinals organization with tremendous dedication and pride and I am thankful for his service to the Cardinals over the past six and a half seasons,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization, I would like to wish Mike the very best.”

“Unfortunately our club has not played up to its capabilities, and it was time for a fresh voice and some new leardership,” DeWitt said. “In some places a winning record, or even .500, is even acceptable. Not with this city, not with this franchise, not with its history, and not with the fans.”

Matheny was signed as a free agent in 2000 and spent five seasons in St. Louis, after a few years of work as a part-time instructor with the Cardinals, he was hired with no professional managerial experience. Matheny, 47, joined the Cardinals following the 2011 season and agreed to a three-year extension after 2016. He went 591-474 with the team, leading it to postseason appearances from 2012 to 2015, including a World Series loss to the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

“I’ve got nothing but gratitude,” Matheny said, “and this goes way back. I got two new lives with this organization, first when (manager) Tony La Russa and (pitching coach) Dave Duncan and (general manager) Walt Jocketty gave me a chance to have a second life as a player to play in a place I already called home.”

“I saw how good this organization has been to me, regardless of that last game or anything between that and the first day. This was very special to me and something live-changing. I’m an unabashed Christ follower and I do believe in things happening for a reason. Not about me being let go, but me getting the opportunity in the first place.”

The Cardinals have defined stability for decades, but a midseason firing has shocked baseball. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Even as rumors fly about more established managers being brought in, St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak says the team will not hire a permanent manager until season’s end.

Mozeliak said Sunday that interim manager Mike Shildt is expected to be allowed to finish out the season. This certainly gives some weight to those who believe that Shildt is a serious candidate to get the job permanently. It’s hard not to see the next two and a half months as his audition for the full-time job before St. Louis begins to look more aggressively to outside candidates.

Mike Shildt is entering his second season as a member of the Cardinals Major League coaching staff and will be entering his first season as the team’s bench coach. Shildt began the 2017 season as quality control coach before taking over as third-base coach in June.

Shildt has logged eight seasons as a manager in the Cardinals organization, the most recent at the triple-A level with the Memphis Redbirds (2015-16). He has compiled a career managerial record of 471-432 (.522) over his eight seasons, winning league championships in each of his three career playoff appearances. Shildt served as a coach for the Pacific Coast League All-Star team in 2016 during the Triple-A All-Star Game that was held at BB&T Ballpark in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. ( from the St.Louis Cardinals & St. Louis Dispatch )

 

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