St. Louis Cardinals: Joe Girardi as manager in 2019?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Greg Bird #33, manager Joe Girardi #28 and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Greg Bird #33, manager Joe Girardi #28 and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Everyone has seen the news by now – Mike Matheny, John Mabry, and Bill Mueller have been fired. Mike Shildt has been the named the interim manager for the St. Louis Cardinals. Rumors are flying that Joe Girardi is the favorite to take the job in 2019.

First, a little bit about Mike Matheny and his time as the St. Louis Cardinals manager…

If you’re a Cardinals fan and haven’t heard the news by now, you live under a rock. The team’s manager since 2012 has been fired, along with the team’s hitting coaches. Matheny went 591-474 during his tenure. The team made the playoffs during his first four seasons, even winning a pennant in 2013.

However, the direction of the franchise has gone downhill since 2016. After winning 100 games in 2015, the team won 86 games in 2016, 83 in 2017, and is on pace to win 82 games this year.

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Is this all his fault? No. Some players have not panned out, particularly this year. On paper, 2018 seemed like the year the St. Louis Cardinals would return to the playoffs. However…

  • Marcell Ozuna has not been the superstar he was supposed to be. He’s been average at best.
  • Greg Holland, the supposed savior at closer, has been plain awful.
  • Tommy Pham, worth 6.2 bWAR last season, has been worth 0.5.
  • After having one of his best offensive years of his career in 2017, Dexter Fowler has literally been one of the worst players in the majors this year.
  • While he’s been showing signs of late, Kolten Wong was hitting under .200 for most of the season.
  • Paul DeJong missed seven weeks.
  • Yadier Molina missed over a month.
  • Adam Wainwright is out.
  • Michael Wacha, having a great season, is out.
  • Several bullpen pieces have missed significant time.

Sometimes we forget all of the above. I am not defending Matheny. Change was needed. But he was dealt a tough hand this year, his make-or-break year, and it hasn’t panned out. Not only have individuals severely under-performed, but there have been multiple instances or stories of clubhouse drama.

Reports have surfaced that he’s essentially put himself on an island, not listening to players or coaches when it comes to game and/or personnel decisions. For all intents and purposes, he had lost control of his clubhouse. His tough, “old-school” ways were not respected, at least by the current group of guys.

I think MM is a great man. And I think his coaching style would fit in greatly at the college level, where a more disciplined approach works better. But when dealing with grown men with families, communication has to be different than what he practiced.

Now, on to Joe Girardi…

Many writers have stated that he is the favorite to win the St. Louis Cardinals managerial job in 2019. Our very own Doc Miles wrote about him as a replacement a few weeks ago (read the article below). Shildt may lead a drastic turnaround and win the job, but let’s take a look at Girardi anyway.

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Joe Girardi played 15 seasons in the majors. He was a light-hitting, defensive-minded catcher. Sound familiar? He won three World Series with the New York Yankees. He played his last season in the big leagues as a St. Louis Cardinal. So he has familiarity with the organization.

He began his managerial career in 2006 with the Florida Marlins. The team went 78-84 with the lowest payroll in baseball. The entire team’s payroll was $15 million. He was actually named the 2006 Manager of the Year for his efforts. He was fired, however, most likely for his public arguments and disagreements with the team’s owner.

He took over for the New York Yankees in 2008 and managed them until he was fired after the 2017 season. The team went 910-710 during his tenure and won the 2009 World Series. They made the playoffs in six out of ten of his seasons.

He was fired after the 2017 season, even after finishing 91-71 and making it to the ALCS. The Yankees’ front office stated that he would’ve been fired even if the team had won the World Series (read the entire article here).

Girardi had lost his clubhouse too. Apparently, he lacked the communication skills necessary to consistently be successful (at least in the Yankees eyes) as a manager. Sound familiar? They also cited the team wanted a manager with intensive knowledge of analytics, implying that Girardi did not have that knowledge. Sound familiar?

So, in Joe Girardi, we have an “old-school”, hard-nosed former catcher that lacks communication skills and doesn’t use or apply analytics (or at least this is what reports say). This sounds like Mike Matheny 2.0, at least on the surface.

However, he was successful, record-wise, with the Yankees. You can’t discount that. Maybe he’s learned a few things as he’s reflected this year, maybe not. Again, maybe Mike Shildt leads a big turnaround, earns the job for 2019 and beyond, and this is a moot point. But, Joe Girardi’s name will definitely be thrown around a lot as we move forward.

Next: Front office replacements

What do you guys think? Would Joe Girardi be a good manager for the St. Louis Cardinals? Let me know. Thanks for reading.