No Question The Cardinals Are Mike Matheny’s Team Now
The St. Louis Cardinals’ organization had a week to forget. They entered the week on the outside looking in as the Miami Marlins wooed Albert Pujols. Soon, the Marlins were bounced out of the running for Albert and the Cardinals were in seemingly good shape to re-sign the all-star first baseman. Then suddenly and shockingly he was headed to Southern California to play for the Los Angeles Angels. All of the uncertainty had to be difficult for the Cardinals front office. One thing is absolutely certain, this team lacks a superstar. But, this also makes the Cardinals Mike Matheny‘s team.
This is not to say the Cardinals do not have all-star players or players who have the potential to be superstars. Moreover, not having a superstar is far from a problem. Matheny has a fairly well balanced team as it stands right now. I feel certain that general manager John Mozeliak will provide Matheny with the remaining pieces needed. He has already agreed with shortstop Rafael Furcal on a two-year/$14 million contract to come back. Mozeliak will now be on the lookout for a lefty reliever, potentially a second baseman and maybe some outfield depth.
Not having a superstar like Pujols on this team ends up being a good thing for Mike Matheny and his ability to manage. This is not to say that Pujols wouldn’t make the team better. He would make any team better. But, Matheny is a brand new manager taking over a team formerly run by one of the most successful managers in major league baseball history in Tony La Russa. What he needs is the ultimate authority and there is no way he has it with Pujols around.
Tony La Russa, who exhibited immense power over this team over the years, allowed Pujols a lengthy rope. Pujols called his own hit and runs. I’m still somewhat baffled by this. If Pujols ever erred, La Russa covered his butt. What’s worse, Pujols sometimes avoided admitting to his mistakes. He felt he was above them. He felt he was above having to take responsibility because of all the excellent achievements he accumulated over the years. Even today he wouldn’t answer why he left St. Louis at his introductory press conference in Los Angeles.
So, does a new manager need to worry about one more thing like stroking the ego of a superstar? Not only is this a new manager, but he is an inexperienced manager. He needs to be able to focus all of his attention on running the team. He needs to be able to call the right plays, manage the bullpen, set a rotation/lineup and deal with the media. Matheny needs to be able to know that the players in the clubhouse are behind HIM and only him. Yes, teams need leaders, but only one manager.
Mike Matheny has a difficult task ahead. He is taking over a team from a legendary manager. The team is coming off a World Series win. The organization just lost one of the best players in MLB history to free agency. But I say he is in a good position. He enters in a position of true power. There is no one to influence his decisions. He’ll encounter a learning curve for sure, but this is his team to mold without hardened pieces interfering. This is Mike Matheny’s team.
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