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Cardinals Hand Over Managerial Duties to Former Catcher

Posted By Chaz Ingram On Nov 15 2011 @ 5:24 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | 6 Comments

[1]On Sunday the Cardinals announced that Mike Matheny, a former catcher with the club will be their new manager replacing longtime skipper Tony LaRussa.  A formal announcement came on Monday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  Matheny, a three time gold glove winner for the Cardinals from 2000-2004 (also won one with San Francisco in 2005) retired from baseball as a member of the San Francisco Giants during the 2006 season after suffering a serious concussion. 

Matheny’s first assignment was to remove the unwanted items that remained in LaRussa’s office and begin putting his personal touch on his new digs.  He sat comfortably in LaRussa’s old chair as he pondered where things should go.  Of course this initial assignment pales in comparison to the much larger  task of taking over a LaRussa led team that won three National League pennants and two World Series titles during his sixteen year tenure.   No pressure I’m sure?

[2]

Former catcher Mike Matheny receiveing his fourth gold glove in 2005 as a member of the San Francisco Giants

Matheny comes to the Cardinals with no managerial experience. In fact up until two years ago he was completely out of baseball when he rejoined the Cardinals organization as a special assistant to player development. Most recently he was a minor league instructor with the team. Despite his managerial inexperience Matheny has apparently gained loads of respect throughout the organization.

[3]John Moleziak, Cardinals’ general manager says he expects some criticism regarding Matheny’s inexperience as a manger, but claim he’s not concerned about that given his own inexperience when he took his new job in 2004. “That’s something I’ve experienced myself, and I know what it’s like going from maybe a less leadership role to one where you’re thrust into it,” Mozeliak said. “I think he has that skill set.“

Mozeliak and Cardinals’ chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr said Matheny stood out from a list of names that included former Boston manager Terry Francona, former Chicago Cubs great Ryne Sandberg and former Cardinals’ utility man and current third base coach Jose Oquendo.

The hiring is somewhat of a surprise and has me somewhat puzzled, not just because of Matheny’s lack of experience but also because of his very recently renewed relationship with the club which obviously makes him very unfamiliar with the team. It seems to me that one of the two following scenarios would have made more sense.  Either you hire someone outside the organization with a proven managerial resume or you hire someone within the organization, not necessarily one who’s managed the team but one who has great familiarity with the team. The fact that Matheny doesn’t fall under either category makes me a little nervous about the future.  [4]

[5]

Matheny as a Cardinals minor league instructor in 2010

Don’t be confused, I was a huge Matheny fan during his five year stay with the Cardinals as a player. His defensive play behind the plate was stellar and I was disappointed when he signed with the Giants after the 2004 season. Matheny’s playing skills aside, I personally feel that you don’t just hand over a reigning championship team to an unproven manager.  Apparently the Cardinals’ organization see something in Matheny’s character that the casual fan such as myself cannot see from a distance.

While Matheny may find LaRussa’s old chair to be nice and comfortable I’m not so sure that the shoes he’s filling as manager of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals will be equally as fitting for him.   I’m hoping that Matheny enjoys his initial assignment as manager of the Redbirds because it  gets much tougher from here.  I’m also hoping that Matheny will produce a winner on the field and prove me wrong.

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