After back-to-back ugly losses to their divisional rival Reds, making their record slip to 47-46 on the season, the Cardinals decided to part ways with manager Mike Matheny after last nights 8-2 loss. Matheny was in his seventh season with the team and never finished with a record below .500 and will finish with an overall record of 591-474, including an NL pennant in 2013 before they eventually lost the World Series to the Red Sox in six games. He followed that season up with two more playoff appearances in a row, including a 100-win season in 2015 before losing to their rival Cubs in the NLDS.
Overall his record ends up being good with the organization but his firing comes down to his seeming lack of ability to relate to younger players. Bernie Miklasz, who is a contributor for The Athletic St. Louis had a telling Twitter thread about Matheny’s propensity to get on a soapbox preaching about how tough old school players used to be and how he thought of today’s players as “soft,” which was of course a huge turnoff to the players that he was trying to manage now.
There had been a lot of smoke coming out of that clubhouse in recent weeks about the dysfunction that was present in it, which is not usual for an organization like the Cardinals, who are usually thought of as one of the better ran franchises in all of baseball. That, combined with their sloppiness on the field made it not too surprising to see them decide to go in another direction despite his good overall record with the team in his seven seasons.
I’m still a little surprised they decided to fire him just over the half-way point of the season because that doesn’t seem like a “Cardinals thing” to do, but if the relationship between him, the players and the front office was as toxic as it sounds like it could’ve been they probably were just better off cutting their ties now and trying to create a more enjoyable environment to play in for some of their talented young players.
Bench coach Mike Shildt will take over as the manager for the rest of the season.
My guess is that Shildt won’t be made the full-time manager and I think whoever does end up getting this job at seasons end will have a lot to work with and will be set up for some immediate success. They have some really nice young hitters on their roster like Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez and even more so they have a nice young pitching staff that consists of guys like Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Jack Flaherty.
Talent-wise they are in a pretty nice spot, they will just need to find someone who can better relate to younger players and that can create a more fun and relaxed environment for players to play in. The last sport you want to be playing while tense and being unable to relax is baseball, and that seemed to be the case in St. Louis leading up to Matheny’s firing.