St. Louis Cardinals: What’s next for Mike Matheny?
By Joshua Magee
The Mike Matheny era for the St. Louis Cardinals is now in our rearview mirrors, but it is only a matter of time until he finds a new job. Could he become a manager again this offseason?
Let’s go back to July 14, 2018. The St. Louis Cardinals had just endured a blowout loss against the Cincinnati Reds, who were currently dead last in the NL Central. The Cardinals were now only one game above the .500 mark with the All-Star Break looming and with the team looking like they were in shambles. The higher-ups decided it was ultimately time for a change.
At around 10:00 PM that same night, the Cardinals announced that they had dismissed Mike Matheny and that bench coach Mike Shildt would slide into the interim manager role. Prior to Matheny’s firing, fans were clamoring for the manager to be fired, and with great reason too.
Matheny’s in-game management was horrific, he couldn’t manage a bullpen to save his life. Always overusing mediocre arms who shouldn’t have been on the team in the first place. His lineup construction was also abysmal, never having a consistent lineup and putting some players, such as Kolten Wong on very tight leashes. Which meant one bad game could lead to riding the pine for the next few days.
It even seemed like Matheny was completely losing the Cardinals clubhouse, especially towards the end of his tenure.
Mark Saxon of The Athletic reported of multiple feuds between Matheny and players. One of those being that he and center fielder Dexter Fowler completely fell out and that Matheny wouldn’t even talk to Fowler unless it was just the daily texts he would send to the entire team.
That just seems completely childish on Matheny’s end. Looking back on it, it does not seem too surprising that Fowler had a terrible 2018 season and is enjoying a very solid 2019 campaign now that Matheny is gone.
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The other situation was just flat out ridiculous. Matheny approved of Bud Norris (who is perceived as a huge jerk around baseball) to flat out harass rookie reliever Jordan Hicks. There should never be hazing in an MLB locker room where you are trying to win games, this isn’t your local college’s fraternity we are talking about here.
Losing the clubhouse played a role in Matheny getting fired, and many Cardinals fans look back at it as a dumpster fire. I’m sure that most Cardinals fans are relieved that Mike Shildt has taken the reigns, and is currently putting himself in NL Manager of the Year consideration.
Though the Matheny era was horrible for the most part in St. Louis, he could be a name to look out in the annual coaching carousel this offseason. MLB teams might want Matheny for his very solid win-loss record, which is currently at 591-474. Though Matheny inherited a World Series team with a stacked farm system that he helped run into the ground; teams might just ignore that.
As happens every offseason, there should be plenty of MLB teams looking for new managers. There seem to be a lot of managers on the hot seat this year, and it could be very interesting to see who stays and who goes.
Currently, Mike Matheny is employed with the Kansas City Royals as a special advisor for player development. This is relevant because the Royals could very well fire their longtime manager Ned Yost at the end of the season.
Since the Royals won the World Series back in 2015, things have spiraled out of control for Kansas City. After back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Royals are now in the midst of a heavy rebuild. Similar to what the Houston Astros did in the early 2010s.
Matheny is starting to become familiar with the organization, and could very well be a candidate to take Yost’s spot come December.
Though the Royals spot would seem more likely for Matheny, there are still plenty of spots where the manager could land.
He could potentially be a nice fit out in San Diego, with the Padres falling out of the Wild Card race quickly; it seems that manager Andy Green could be fired soon. Matheny would be put in a great situation. A team with an amazing farm system with plenty of young studs already up in the Major Leagues, such as Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Their future is very bright and they could look for a manager with winning experience to run the team.
Another option could be the Philadephia Phillies. Though the Phillies have a loaded roster with studs such as Aaron Nola, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper; they have heavily underperformed this season. Manager Gabe Kapler has struggled heavily as a manager and fans are calling for him to be fired, which seems very likely that it will happen.
Matheny would inherit a ton of talent on a team built to make a playoff run, and they will also likely be aggressive within the free-agent market this offseason as they still have a ton of cap room, even after signing Bryce Harper to a $330M contract.
A team that has been a major disappointment this season is the Chicago Cubs. As much as we might hate the Cubs, there isn’t anything wrong with admitting that they have a very solid core that can make a championship run. With studs like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Anthony Rizzo; you would think that this team would be a force in the National League.
The poor management from Joe Maddon has been a major reason that they have underperformed. He has done a terrible job of handling his bullpen and his player’s manager mentality is starting to bite him in the tail.
With the Cubs window starting to run out of time, it would not be smart to hire a developmental manager; they would need someone who has experience managing games in the Majors, and this is where Matheny would step in. Especially if former Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn’t interested in taking over in Maddon’s spot.
Though we might not like Matheny at all, he does have an impressive track record that could very well land him a job soon. I mean, Brad freaking Ausmus has a job after getting fired due to his terrible stint with the Detroit Tigers, so anything is possible. So for whatever team that does decide to hire Matheny, let’s hope we can just sit back and laugh.