The Cardinals' new manager seems, by all accounts, to be a standup guy. I've yet to read an article or hear even a whisper of moral failing on his part or of just not being nice all the time. I'm sure those stories are out there but the fact that no one has seen fit to print them would indicate they are the exception and not the rule.
It's a different reaction from the press than the one that Tony LaRussa often received. Combative during press conferences, there was an underlying anxiety and, at times, enmity between LaRussa and the press. In some ways, you could say the same thing about his relationship with his players too.
A poor boy, John Mozeliak, who is noticable among the street urchins only for his unusually fashionable scarves, has not found a magic bauble. He has not called back the long lost prince, Mike Matheny, from the outer realms. The prince does not come to banish the ruling King, Tony LaRussa, who has grown too self-absorbed to differentiate between good and bad. This is not a fairy tale.
It is a transition. While it would be easier to cast the transition in clear and simplistic terms (i.e. Matheny is good and LaRussa is bad), it would be a disservice to both men. Worse than that, it would be false. All transitions come with changes though. Here's some notes for Mike Matheny to take regarding his predecessor.
Understanding and utilizing your bullpen. I often characterized it as the parade of 1,000 relievers but the modern bullpen usage is something that Tony LaRussa got right more often than he got wrong. This was exemplified best in the playoffs with heavy reliance on guys like Jason Motte and Fernando Salas. When LaRussa was at his best, he employed the platoon split effectively, utilizing LOOGys to retire critical opponent's batters who were particularly susceptible to same handed pitchers. Sometimes LaRussa burned through his pen too quickly but, more often than not, he used the pen in an intelligent and laudable way.
Becoming obsessed with veteran relief. If you believe there is a strong psychological component to a reliever's effectiveness or to closing specifically, then you can make an argument that survivor bias is important in bullpen selection. It's still a weak and highly speculative argument. More importantly, it is an argument that should always be trumped by the more convincing talent argument. The more talented player should always get the preference over the less talented player when constructing a bullpen. Always. The Front office has developed a system that can produce depth and impressive arms from the minors on a regular basis. Mike Matheny should remember that and rely on it.
Making the clubhouse a more comfortable place for young players. If it wasn't clear already, let's be explicit about things. The Cardinals are no longer Tony's team. They will not immediately become Matheny's team. They are now, for at least the near term, Mozeliak's team. Part of Mozeliak's mandate is a higher reliance on the farm system and, given the incredible job that Jeff Luhnow has done stocking it and John Vuch now does tending it, with good reason. If there was a complaint that was tied to the malcontents pushed out but secretly shared by all the new players, it was that the feel of the team could be stifling at times. The intensity of the former manager had it's benefits but it exacted an increasing toll as the season went on. Part of what Mike Matheny can do is give everyone a chance to breathe, especially the young players.
Making the clubhouse into the Delta Tau Chis of Animal House. Moderation in all things. A little levity is good. A lot of levity can be bad.
Batting the pitcher eighth.
Bunting. (In all but a few cases.)
Giving Derrick Goold unfettered access.
Giving Joe Strauss anything.
Playing Allen Craig. As much as everyone looks forward to what may be more consistent lineups, Albert Pujols re-signing would mean that Allen Craig is on the bench. Making sure that he gets playing time and is then first option off the bench in virtually every pinch hitting situation is important. Allen Craig is really good. Don't forget that.
Playing Torty Craig.