Usually conversation about St. Louis Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny involves him being fired, but not this time.
Yes, the 2017 season for the St. Louis Cardinals has not been up to par with what we have come to expect. Manager Mike Matheny is a man who has taken a lot of flack for the 2017 downfall of a club struggling to just be a .500 team. Fans feel justified in being upset at how the team is performing, but is firing Mike Matheny a necessary move to make?
For those wanting the four-time Gold Glove award winner cut loose, I do understand. However, these three reasonswill persuade you why there should be a #keepmatheny instead of a #firematheny.
Reason #1 – Matheny’s previous success
After Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa retired, following a storybook ending to his career, there was a lot of speculation about who his successor would be. Terry Francona and Jose Oquendo were names tossed into the hat, but ultimately the St. Louis Cardinals went with former catcher Mike Matheny.
During his first five seasons as the man in charge, Matheny compiled a record of 461-349 (.569). Those first five seasons included three first place finishes, a 100-win season, five playoff appearances, and a trip to the World Series. Not too shabby, huh?
Being that 2017 is the first rough season of Matheny’s tenure, maybe he should get another shot next season. Even La Russa had his fair share of struggles when he was at the helm.
Reason #2 – Matheny has a better start than La Russa
During the first five seasons of Tony La Russa’s 16-year stint as manager for the St. Louis Cardinals he had two losing seasons. If Matheny finishes the 2017 season below the .500 mark, it would be his first season failing to achieve a winning record.
La Russa began his time as Cardinals manager with a record of 88-74, but followed up going 73-89 in 1997. Two seasons later, La Russa’s Cardinals would once again fall under .500 for the season with a 75-86 record.
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After that second season under .500, the Cardinals would have just one more sub-.500 record in the next 12 seasons.
Now, Matheny has had what looks like a rocky relationship with catcher Yadier Molina recently, but La Russa also had issues with players on his Cardinals teams.
Both Matheny and La Russa had issues with future Hall of Famers. While Matheny has clashed with Yadi, La Russa butted heads with The Wizard, Ozzie Smith.
Reason #3 – Matheny is not the only manager to upset a face of the franchise
The year was 1996, Ozzie Smith was entering his 19th big league season and it was Tony La Russa’s first year as manager for the St. Louis Cardinals. Before spring training commenced, La Russa told Smith, Royce Clayton would be battling him for the starting shortstop position.
Obviously this upset the would be Hall of Famer, but by the end of spring training Ozzie had outplayed Clayton. Even though Smith had won from a statistical standpoint, La Russa decided to platoon both players.
After the season Smith would retire, never ending on good terms with La Russa. Meanwhile, Clayton would spend another year and half on the Cardinals as they traded him to the Texas Rangers.
As for Matheny and Molina, there is still plenty of time for both men to get back on good terms.
Mike Matheny is not a perfect manager and he is not going to be a Connie Mack or Joe Torre overnight. However, losing gives people an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and correct them for the future. Maybe an under .500 year will get Matheny to become a manager that everyone will fall in love with.