Oct 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny before game three of the baseball World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Post World Series---Where Do We Go From Here?


It’s over.  The post mortems will be coming fast and furious in the next few days and weeks so I thought I would get a head start on mine.   There are a number of issues I plan to address and in no particular order.  These are my thoughts and opinions about the season, the team, the individuals, and in some cases, the fans.  I don’t expect everything I say will be well received but that comes with the territory.  If I am preachy, it’s because I feel strongly about things, and I never apologize for that.  You can take what you want from what I say and leave the rest.  First up.

 

1.  Mike Matheny.   He has a lot of nice qualities, and as a human being it is hard to fault him.  As a manager, well that’s another story entirely.  He has the people skills down pat.  But those people skills can be a downside for a manager.  How many times have we as fans let out a collective groan every time Matheny brought in a struggling pitcher in tight situations, or left a starting pitcher in way too long?  How many times have we wondered why oh why is Matheny continuing to put that guy in the lineup at that position when he just doesn’t fit there?  It’s not that we are all experts, but some things are just so obvious.   I will just be blunt.  Mike Matheny is too nice.  To be an effective, long term manager, you have to have something of a killer instinct.  Matheny has not shown that he has one.  There are times when you have to put aside loyalties to players to win a game.  Managing a major league baseball team should not be about being popular,  it should be about making hard choices, and sometimes having to make one or more of your players unhappy.    I will say this, I never did nor do I now like Tony LaRussa.  I am being perfectly honest here.  Tony LaRussa fell so far below the ideal on the human being scale that I just couldn’t tolerate him.  But strictly as a tactical manager, he had the killer instinct in spades.  He wanted to win more than anything else, and if he had to make a player unhappy, well that was no problem.  The thing is, my ideal of a Cardinals manager is someone who falls somewhere in the middle of these two men.  A caring, decent human being who still has the qualities to allow himself to set aside being the popular guy and do what it takes to win.  Does this manager even exist?  I don’t know, but I would sure like to have him manage the Cardinals if he does.   I am willing to wait and see one more year on Mike Matheny, but if we get more of the same next season, I would prefer the Cardinals move on and look elsewhere.

 

2.  Who should be back next year?  My heart tells me to bring Carlos Beltran back for one more year and one more try for that World Series ring.  My head tells me that isn’t very practical or smart.  Make him a qualifying offer and if he takes it, great.  If not, I wish him well in his future endeavors.  I don’t have a problem with bringing Pete Kozma back but only as a backup shortstop.  We need to get a shortstop that can field as well or better than Kozma but that can also hit enough not to be an automatic out in the lineup.  We also need a better center fielder.  I am not sold on Oscar Taveras as a CFer.  I have watched him play CF many times, and frankly, he ain’t that good at it.  Getting another center fielder on the FA market or trade would be my preference.  Jon Jay can either be traded or kept as a 4th OFer.  As for David Freese, well this is where I am going to be unpopular.  I want to keep him for one more year and see if he can pull it together.  I don’t like at all the way fans have turned on David Freese.  I have many things I could say about that, but it would just be an angry rant that would be unproductive.  I prefer to keep Matt Carpenter at 2B.  He has carved out a niche for himself there and I don’t want to mess with his mojo.  Furthermore, I like his arm better at 2B.  He always looks to me like throwing from 3B is too much of an effort for him.  What to do about Wong?  Well, that’s a good question.  More time at Memphis perhaps and then see where we are.  Perhaps trade him in a deal for a shortstop.  The thing is that Matt Carpenter has proven himself and Wong hasn’t.  I would rather go with the sure thing, at least for now.  Finally, GET A BETTER BENCH.  No more Ty Wiggintons please.

 

3.  Starting rotation.  Waino, of course.  Wacha too.  If Jaime Garcia is healed and effective, him too.  We need to have at least one lefty in our rotation.  If Garcia doesn’t work out, then Lyons or Gast or even Siegrist or perhaps pick up a lefty on the FA market.  Shelby Miller if he hasn’t gotten in someone’s doghouse and isn’t traded away.  That leaves Lance Lynn.  I am not as down on Lance as many others are.  He has good stuff it is just a matter of staying consistent with it.  But, if he can get us a shortstop or a CFer on the trade market that would be okay.  As for Joe Kelly, I like him so much, I really do, but unless he figures out how to harness that strike out potential he has and cut down on the walks, I would rather have him in the bullpen.  So the 5th starter is up in the air.  Maybe Lynn, maybe someone else.  Martinez?  Rosenthal?  I don’t know, I really like both of those guys in the bullpen.  Which leads me to……

 

4.  The bullpenMujica is most likely gone.  Choate will be there.  Siegrist if he doesn’t start.  I am still not sold on Axford, but if he can be re-signed for cheap, well okay.  Not a Salas fan, so no.  Martinez and Rosenthal if neither of them start.  Joe Kelly.  For the last spot, another lefty if Siegrist starts, a righty if he doesn’t.  Perhaps someone from the minors will make an impression.  Lee Stoppelman has potential, though he is a lefty.  The bullpen I think is kind of fluid, depending on who makes the starting rotation.

 

5.  What do I think went wrong in 2013?  Well obviously the offense was the major issue.  Just fell flat at the end.  Many bad at bats by many people.  Lack of a decent bench.  Inability to hit left handed pitching, which needs to be addressed and fixed if possible.  If Mabry can’t figure it out, then maybe get someone else who can.  Many people are upset about the power loss.  I am not one of them.  Chicks may or may not dig the long ball.  This chick cares more about scoring runs, in whatever manner works best.  Swinging for the fences is for the American League, a brand of baseball I despise.  The hitting approach that the Cardinals had this season worked fine up until the end.  The problems with the offense at the end are probably less about the type of hits and more about getting into a consistent rhythm and just taking good at bats.  Maybe there was some fatigue involved.  A better bench would be immensely helpful and take some of the pressure off the starting nine.

 

That’s it for now.  I may think of some other things as time goes by.  Let us all hope for a productive offseason and a quick one so we can all get back to the sport we love.  How many days till pitchers and catchers report?

 

 

 

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Tags: Mike Matheny St Louis Cardinals World Series

  • Rick M

    I will give you the view as a Red Sox fan. Since the Cards seem to concentrate so much internally I have my doubts about dipping their toes into the expensive FA market. I would look into a player from Toronto – Rajai Davis. This is not an everyday player but can fill a great part time role and certainly will boost the running game. Beltran would be a fine player to remain but if he gets that big three years deal potential elsewhere I doubt you will see the Cards match. Robinson did not impress, so I doubt that would be an exceptional option, but he is a fine defensive player.Tavares has a fine future, but he is not a significant power option. I would like to see a bit more speed on the Cards and a slightly better OF defense.

    A return to glory by Freese is essential. This is a talented player with some significant injury issues. He seems rather limited defensively because of that. Will he be back to a few years ago? If he was a stock I would “hold.” Your SS simply can’t hit. This is Ray Oyler and if he screws up defensively he has little value.

    Wong was traumatized in the WS. He has some decent power potential and can see him making a strong run at your lineup. Descalso is just a role player. If you give him 300+ AB’s you have a problem. Then comes catching. Right now you have the best in the game but if anything happens Cruz will not help.

    Pitching is the team strength. Only addition I could see on the FA market is Balfour. Kelly and Wacha have fantastic potential and both, especially Wacha, have shown some real glimpses of it. Garcia could be your lefty. Last season the Pirate fans dumped all over Locke and he had a nice season in 2013. Garcia could do exactly that in 2014. Wainwright is a great vet and high end leader of that staff. IMO with Wainwright, Lynn and Miller you have 50+ wins.

    What went wrong is simple. You ran into an emotional buzzsaw that had already defeated Moore, Price, Scherzer and Verlander. So nothing your staff had was anything new for the Sox. They had already faced comparable pitchers who may have an edge on what the Cards presented. As it was your pitching was not great but very good. IMO if the Tigers or TB had replaced Boston the Cards would be having a parade.

    Your team is geared for another decade of success. Solid management, good cash flow, keen signing decisions, some payroll flexibility, a farm system that has been consistently among the best, great fan base, I could go on and on. This is an organization that has been to the dance four times in the last ten seasons and will be in the playoffs in 2014.

    I go to road games and look forward to a STL visit in 2014. I will wear my Sox gear and your fans will congratulate us for having a great team – STL is not New York (LOL)!

  • Jim Tasmar

    I have to laugh at the ongoing criticism of Matheny. Nitpick all you want, but the guy took over after the Cards lost two Hall of Famers, plus Dave Duncan and Chris Carpenter. All Matheny has produced are an LCS berth and a pennant.

    Cards will likely regress next year because that’s the way baseball goes. If you think it’s necessary to fire Matheny in that case, he won’t be out of work long.