Mike Matheny is out as the Cardinals’ manager according to a press release issued by the club.
Tonight’s 8-2 loss to the Reds dropped the Cardinals’ record to 47-46 as the team appears headed towards what would be a third consecutive playoff-less season for the first time since 1997-1999. The news also comes on the heels of mounting tensions in the clubhouse, including Dexter Fowler reportedly blocking text messages from Matheny and Bud Norris’ controversial treatment of rookie pitcher Jordan Hicks.
Hitting coach John Mabry and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller have also been dismissed, leaving bench coach Mike Shildt to serve as interim manager. A press conference regarding these coaching changes is scheduled for tomorrow at 11 am CT.
We will have further coverage of this breaking news as more information is made public.
Update: The Cardinals’ press conference has concluded after GM Mike Girsch, chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, and interim manager Mike Shildt fielded questions from the media.
- A common thread throughout DeWitt and Mozeliak’s opening statements was praise for Matheny, Mabry, and Mueller’s effort and thanking them for their contributions to the organization. Shildt later referred to the three dismissed coaches as “first-class human beings” whom he has “a lot of respect for.”
- Our club has not played up to its capabilities,” DeWitt said. “It’s time for a fresh voice and some new leadership.” He said that merely posting a winning or .500 record is not acceptable in St. Louis given the prestige and history of the club in addition to the fanbase’s passion.
- DeWitt also said, “I believe in this team, I believe in this talent.” He hopes for “a great second half” in which the Cardinals can “make a run at the playoffs.”
- The phrase “fresh voice” was frequently used throughout the press conference, with Mozeliak saying that, “having a fresh voice is something important as we move to the second half. [We felt it was] time for a change in messaging.”
- “We are optimistic, we do feel that this team has a chance to win,” Mozeliak said.” That’s the reason we’re doing it now and not waiting [until the offseason to make these coaching changes.]”
- Memphis Redbirds hitting coach Mark Budaska and minor league offensive strategist George Greer have been added to the MLB coaching staff as hitting coaches.
- Shildt spoke with the team and reported that there is currently “good energy” in the clubhouse. He also met with the other coaches for a “really healthy conversation, open dialogue.” He believes “more consistency in different areas of the game” will be a key to success.
- Asked if he believes these coaching changes will make St. Louis a more appealing destination for players, Mozeliak said this is “an attractive place to play, I think it still is.”
- Mozeliak also answered questions regarding what direction the club intends to go down as the trade deadline nears. “Under Mr. Dewitt, Bill has always pushed us to win. The playoffs are something we’re chasing,” Mozeliak said.” However, he added that the team’s plans are “something that’s a little bit TBD.” He stressed that “there’s certainly opportunities to improve” and that better play from the current roster would help “makes decisions easier.”
- DeWitt asserted that “we’ve got a lot of talent on this club, a lot of young talent that’s controlled for years. If we didn’t feel like we had a chance...you’ve got to look at the reality of this situation. We’ve got a really good, young core.”
- Mozeliak threw cold water on the notion that recently published articles of alleged clubhouse turmoil were a major factor in firing Matheny, “not necessarily pushing [our decision] in an expedited manner.” Mozeliak met with Matheny, who “handled it like a pro” according to the President of Baseball Operations.
- Mozeliak had a brief conversation with Jose Oquendo last night and this morning, saying the third base coach is throwing his “entire weight behind Mike Shildt.”
- DeWitt noted that the “manager doesn’t play the games” and that to “pin it on [Matheny] is unfair...we just felt that [getting over the hump] didn’t seem to be happening.” Mozeliak expressed a similar sentiment, saying that “everybody at this table shared responsibility” in the team’s struggles.
- From the “feedback I do get from time to time,” Mozeliak said he was receiving generally “positive” messaging from the clubhouse.
- Shildt touched on Dexter Fowler’s rough 2018 season. “Look at big picture, in Dexter’s case his entire career,” he said. “The evaluation takes place in the short term, but that’s not absolute.”
- Mozeliak used the word “inevitable” in detailing the decision to pull the trigger on this coaching shakeup. The “decision on what we were going to do was already made.” He talked with DeWitt on Friday, when they determined that the firings needed to occur this weekend.
- “In a lot of ways, the [manager’s] job has changed over time,” Girsch said. It’s “something that’s reflected in the people that have the role now.” Mozeliak agreed the “game’s changed quite a bit,” emphasizing the modern rise in “information at [coaches’] disposal.”
- Shildt used the word “inclusive” in his final response, saying the team needs to “work through this together. My job is to prepare the guys to play.”
- “I think everybody’s got their own definition of fun. [Baseball is] a passion of mine,” Shildt said. “Look, I’m the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. I’m blessed beyond belief.”