The St. Louis Cardinals have little about which to be proud from the recent stretch where they should have taken far more victories than they did. This begs the question of why the front office isn’t making difficult decisions immediately.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to fire Mike Matheny and John Mabry immediately. There are simply no ifs, ands, or buts to this statement. Fans have honked for this for seasons (myself included) but the repetition of pitiful performance simply cannot continue.
With today being Flag Day (the point at which Mike Claiborne says to start watching the standings), the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves mired and firmly entrenched in third place in the NL-Central. This is simply not good enough.
Milwaukee, who made few moves this offseason, sits comfortably in first place with a record of 41-27. The media darling Cubs sit in second place with a record of 38-27, just 1.5 games back of the Brewers. Then a gap… then the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 36-30, some four games back of the Brewers.
Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals are in third place and, yes, opponents to the “fire Matheny” bandwagon will argue that they Cards are at least six games over .500, the direct attack on that argument is the fact that a plus-.500 team just isn’t good enough this season.
Could the Brewers falter? Sure.
Haven’t the Cubs been on a down-on-luck streak of late? Yes, they have lost their past two games. But don’t start throwing stones yet, St. Louis Cardinals fans, as the Cards have also dropped their last two games. An important note here is that the Cubs lost their two games to the Brewers (a first-place team) while the Cardinals lost their two to the Padres (a last-place team).
And therein lies 50% of the problems: the St. Louis Cardinals have lost too many games to sub-.500 teams. These are the games that the club should count on as winning and should pad their season and yet under the leadership of Matheny and Mabry the Cardinals cannot seem to assume a win anywhere.
The other 50% of the problems lie in the team itself. Yes, players who are making more money than what the United States pays its President should perform at high levels such that wins come easily. That said, the St. Louis Cardinals’ high-dollar investments are simply not performing as they should:
- Dexter Fowler is carrying a pitiful .171 batting average.
- Marcell Ozuna, who has started his rebound, was for so long carrying a low-.200 batting average with mid-to-low-.300 slugging numbers.
- Carlos Martinez has been hurt.
- Alex Reyes has failed to return from the DL.
- The bullpen has been a carousel of disappointment and mismanagement.
While much of the items above are due to the effort and performance of the players themselves, they have gone unchecked for too long by management.
I wrote a piece recently discussing the mistrust in management that seems to be an epidemic that has gone without vaccination throughout the Matheny tenure. You can read it here. In this piece, I illustrated how Ozuna and others show that the players- to me- do not trust Matheny and/or his staff.
This is detrimental and will only continue to degrade the team throughout the season if something is not done.
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The St. Louis Cardinals begin a very important series on Friday facing the rival Cubs at home. The Cardinals must take the series but lacking their one shining star in Jose Martinez (gone for paternity leave) may spell losses that the team cannot afford.
Therefore, I propose that the time is now to remove Matheny and Mabry and replace them with Jose Oquendo in the manager role (he can choose who should fill as hitting coach). In all likelihood this would also spell the release of Bill Mueller from the duties of assistant hitting coach and I’m okay with that too.
There is no better time than now. Having said that, I do not believe it will happen but it should. I am becoming more and more fearful that the front office is far too fearful of making such a strong decision. But they should.
It wouldn’t surprise me either if the front office waits until AFTER the Cubs series to make a decision. I think this is the wrong move especially in light of the pitiful four wins collected over the past three series (against cellar-dwellers).
Don’t hold your breath, St. Louis Cardinals fans. I’m worried we are in for a bumpy rest of the season with Matheny remaining until the season’s end as the Cardinals again miss the postseason.