The Cardinals started the season 26-32 and looked to be heading to their worst finish in a decade. The trade deadline is still more than six weeks away and most deals don’t happen until teams feel the urgency of late-July. The Cardinals have tried minor, peripheral moves. They’ve released Jonathan Broxton. They’ve sent Randal Grichuk to Triple-A. They’ve brought in guys off the radar like John Brebbia and most recently Chad Huffman. The Cardinals have gone a bit further in shaking things up by reassigning third base coach Chris Maloney.
Maloney has been much maligned for his overzealous sending of runners over the past few years. Ten Cardinals runners have been out at home this season, which leads the majors. The team also ranks very high—actually low—in terms of runners caught on the rest of the bases as well. Mike Shildt, the Cardinals quality control coach will take over duties at third base.
Maloney wasn’t the only change the team announced as Bill Mueller, the assistant hitting coach, is taking a leave of absence. Mark Budaska, the hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis will take over Mueller’s duties. Pop Warner will also join the major league staff.
A year ago, the Cardinals stumbled and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in Mike Matheny’s tenure. In the offseason, an emphasis was made on defense and baserunning, but those mistakes have followed the Cardinals into this season. A roster expected to contend has played poorly, and the team has no answers on how to change.
We could argue whether or not the team needs a shakeup. Perhaps more appropraite is to discuss whether this is the right shakeup. Mike Matheny has struggled mightily as manager of the Cardinals leading this writer to call for his firing more than a year ago. These moves will definitely shake up the organization and the team. Maloney sent way too many runners. However, it isn’t entirely clear a wakeup call is going to change any of fundamental issues that have plagued the Cardinals over the past few seasons.
Bullpen management, handling of young players, deferential treatment to veterans, playing favorites and the organization’s inability to find the next big star to lead the team are all problems not addressed by this news. Will this be a wakeup call for Matheny or is this just an attempt to further himself from current complaints about the team and put them elsewhere?
Moves were made. Moves needed to made. We will have the rest of the summer to see if they make any difference.
The team also announced that Jhonny Peralta’s tenure with the Cardinals is over. Read more on that here.