St. Louis Cardinals: It isn’t time yet to fire Mike Matheny

Apr 14, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) challenges a call during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) challenges a call during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals are off to a horrible start at 3-8. Fans blame many things but paramount in the blame game is Mike Matheny.

I have often written of my displeasure with the St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. I am not a fan and have not liked him as a manager since he stepped into the helm after Tony La Russa. I recognize that Matheny is no La Russa, but what I have come to understand even more is that Matheny is not a manager.

What I must admit is that Matheny seems to do well enough when planning for a game on paper but is seemingly incapable of modifying on the fly. I’ve written about this before. This was certainly my belief until this year.

Last year, I read the complaints of fans saying that Matheny overused particular players who were his favorites and while I wasn’t so sure last season, I am convinced this season. Perfect examples are Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton. Let me explore.

Siegrist has plenty of promise, yes, and is quite wonderful at the tail end of games. When he is wonderful. Which he was not at the end of the 2016 season and which he has not yet been this season. And yet, and yet Matheny still parades him out there as though he was just as effective as he always has been.

Broxton is another can of worms entirely. I’m not sure what Matheny sees in him as I have not ever been impressed.

All of that said, I am not the manager, nor am I the GM. To this point, I do not have all the information that the organization has on these players but that doesn’t change my frustration.

Back to the point, then, as the St. Louis Cardinals sit at this terrible start, who is to blame? I completely agree with fans who feel that Matheny should get the ax. I have felt this way for a while but certainly this season is showing it.

Fans who argue against this want to point to Matheny’s early seasons wherein he carried the St. Louis Cardinals to the postseason. Let me rebuke this by illustrating that these teams were still stocked with La Russa players. Now that we are removed enough from those teams, we are seeing the real impact of Matheny and his manifesto.

But wait… While I would love nothing more than to hear GM Mozeliak take to KMOX and announce the dismissal of Matheny, I don’t see this happening. At least not now.

Now is not the time for a few reasons. First, the organization invested a decent amount of money in Matheny’s extension. The money isn’t necessarily the big issue as the DeWitt family and the Cardinals has plenty of this. Paying Matheny to walk away is not that big of a deal but not showing some due diligence might.

I advocated against Matheny’s extension when it came last season. I advocated for Matheny to have to operate the 2017 season with the pressure of his final year of his previous contract. The Cardinals felt that he would perform better under the security of an extension. He has not, however.

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The second reason that I do not believe the organization should fire Matheny now is that I believe they need to attempt to make some changes first. If the organization walked in today and fired Matheny without first shuffling some players around, then the organization would have changed course from their previous ways of doing business. I just don’t see them doing this.

Instead, I see player changes coming as soon as this week. Please. The challenge here, however, will be whether Matheny is in on the decisions or if they are top-down. The best option is likely top-down since Matheny is less likely to allow Jhonny Peralta‘s role to change or for someone like Jose Martinez to play. This is where Mozeliak should step in.

Let me add that once player changes come and go, if the record doesn’t improve, then Matheny MUST go. How long do we wait for this? I’d say by the end of May. If the St. Louis Cardinals haven’t improved by the end of May and should player changes have come and gone, then the organization will have no other choice but to fire Matheny and his team.

To be clear, I would love for Matheny to depart the Cardinals today but I just don’t see this happening. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the organization ride Matheny all the way to the end of the season and make a decision then. I guess time will tell.

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What do you think? Would you fire Matheny today? What player changes would you make? Follow me on Twitter and let me know your thoughts.