St. Louis Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny is the luckiest man in baseball but he still has no championship ring.
Matheny has been treated with the same support in Saint Louis that Tony LaRussa was. That is the same respect that was given to Joe Torre and Whitey Herzog because of the community’s permanent case of baseball influenza. But since MM starred for the Cards and won 6 gold gloves while making Missouri his home, he gets genuine hometown love like Nelly.
That same support helped Tony LaRussa get away with anything he wanted during his tenure as manager of the Cardinals. There are loyal and true fans who will argue that TLR should have won two more titles for STL. This unconditional love makes Matheny’s contract extension less surprising than Brandon Phillips‘ 2013 tirade.
After being out-coached in the 2013 World Series, St. Louis’ manager and coaching staff had better learn from their mistakes. In 2014 Mike Matheny has the opportunity to have a fresh start. Cardinals fans however need to constantly remind themselves that 14′ will only be his third year managing a baseball team.
Here are 5 keys to MM’s future triumphs.
1. Not overusing young power arms: In 2012 Matheny rode rookie Lance Lynn too hard and created an ugly situation. Then in 2013, after not learning from the awful LL experience the year before, the sophomore manager repeated that mistake by riding rookie Shelby Miller out of a significant role in the post season. Hopefully Miller’s shoulder has enjoyed the holidays.
2. Treating Yadi like a human: Matheny added years to STL’s quarterback-like catcher’s career by spearheading the destruction of the home plate collision, however Yadier Molina needs more time off during the year. He has year old knees so 1, 100 innings is too many. Similar to #1, but more of a need for caution because of the importance of Yadi’s indispensable presence both with the mit and stick.
3. Being ready to attack: With Peter Bourjos and Kolten Wong in the lineup MM needs to be ready to push his new speedsters to steal. This will be a foreign tactic seeing that the Cards have been in the cellar for larceny since Matheny took command.
4. Using challenges wisely: Like football coaches and tennis players, this upcoming season will feature baseball managers second guessing umpires. However, just like ‘The Force’, this new power comes with great responsibility. Mike Matheny will have to use patience as well as aggression to get justice for his team.
5. Taking advantage of pitching depth: This is somewhat related to #1 as well. Once again in 2014 the Cardinals have too many high-quality arms. If Mike Matheny can give Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist and the other youthful wonders some time off with “blisters” and “family matters” during long parts of the season, then, their dominance should continue.
Mike Matheny deserved his 3 year contract extension after helping the Cards find success in 2012 and 2013. But that success was limited. If Saint Louis’ middle aged manager improves he may experience ultimate baseball glory and have the chance to repeat in 2015.