After being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays former Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk had some things to say about playing for Mike Matheny. While in text, it is easy to assume these words were harsh criticism, and while they certainly were not a glowing endorsement, in context they probably were not as bad as they seem. Either way, here are his words to the Toronto media:
And here is what he said on MLB Network Radio, per Bernie Miklasz of 101.1 ESPN:
“St. Louis it was kind of tough to get those every day at-bats, they like to play the hot hand a lot. If you struggle a couple of games, you might be sitting a couple of games and then have to kind of build that confidence back-up on your own, it was a tough situation for me,” he said. “I think moving forward, this trade is going to be huge for me with them saying ‘get every day at-bats.’ I have always been a big believer that it is a 162 game schedule for a reason, you’re going to have to work through slumps and try to stay confident throughout the whole season. So when you kind of don’t that opportunity when you’re in the slump it kind of snowballs from there.”
This is a criticism most fans have given Matheny for years, and while Grichuk certainly did suffer from it at times, many argue he benefited from it more than any one. As Bernie said in his article about the comments, “The grievance has more validity when filed on behalf of Kolten Wong, Tommy Pham, Greg Garcia, Jose Martinez, the late Oscar Tavares, and Matt Adams.”
Recently Mike Matheny was asked about Grichuk’s statements. Here is what he had to say:
(1/3) Mike Matheny speaking to @tmckernan on newest show re: Randal Grichuk's comments: "That's the game we play. This is a production game. You can look at the end talent we had, I mean he was competing with Tommy together some for those repetitions...(cont)— The Tim McKernan Show (@McKernanShow) February 6, 2018
(2/3) Matheny (cont): Tommy kept producing which produces more opportunity to get back in there. I think you would love if you could say regardless of if I am good or bad, no matter what I do today I can still have a chance of doing it for as long as I want to, that's not real.— The Tim McKernan Show (@McKernanShow) February 6, 2018
(3/3) Matheny (cont) on Grichuk's comments: "The reality is we have to go compete. We have to fight every single day. We have to earn."— The Tim McKernan Show (@McKernanShow) February 6, 2018
To listen to the entire interview with @Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and @tmckernan, go to insideSTL or click here:https://t.co/QFFoMb1wqY
It is really hard to say who is right here. On one hand, baseball is a grind and slumps are inevitable, but when a player is producing more than another is it fair to keep giving opportunities to player in a slump? This is why it is important for a manager to be a good communicator and be able to address these issues with players. This is something for which Mike Matheny was often praised. The issue here is not that Mike was wrong to play one player over another, but that he allowed his players to feel this way about his choice. That is a communication break-down, and that is entirely on the manager.
The ironic thing about Matheny’s comments, as VEB writer Pegasus pointed out to me, is that Matheny’s teams have under-performed for the past few years and he was signed to a contract extension when by his own logic he should be in the hot seat.
Such is life.
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