Blog Entry

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

Posted on: November 13, 2011 6:09 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:50 pm
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The Cardinals on Sunday named former big league catcher Mike Matheny as their new manager and will formally introduce him in a news conference on Monday morning in St. Louis.

Presumably, they've already handed Matheny a guidebook blueprint for replacing an all-time legend (Tony La Russa), taking over a World Series champion as a rookie skipper and making a managerial debut in the big leagues -- not in the minor leagues.

The truth? The only way Matheny's debut job could be any more difficult is if the club loses icon Albert Pujols via free agency.

Wait, hold that thought!

While Pujols was being wined and dined by the Miami Marlins over the weekend, the Cardinals whittled their short list of La Russa replacements to a final one.

The contrast between him and La Russa could not be more stark:

La Russa managed more games than any manager in major-league history after Connie Mack.

Matheny, 40, spent part of last season as a roving minor-league instructor for the Cardinals, and part of it in the St. Louis broadcast booth. He has never been a manager.

He has, however, managed games from behind the plate as a catcher for 13 years in Milwaukee, Toronto, St. Louis and San Francisco. He spent five years behind the plate for La Russa's Cardinals, from 2000-2004, and during that time forged a solid relationship and earned a tremendous amount of respect from La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

How much? As Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote earlier this month, La Russa once described Matheny "as the only big-league ballplayer he'd let one of his daughters marry." As Strauss noted then, the fact that the Cardinals would consider allowing Matheny to become their next manager might be nearly as impressive.

Matheny was said by industry sources to have been very impressive when he went through the Cardinal interview process earlier this month. That surely came as no surprise to general manager John Mozeliak and the club, given that Matheny was a clubhouse leader during his time in St. Louis whose leadership qualities were unquestioned.

That, and Matheny's familiarity with the Cardinals organization are the qualities that the club hopes make for a smooth transition. As a player, his attention to detail was evident, among many other areas, in the four Gold Gloves he won -- three of them while wearing a Cardinals uniform. He also helped mentor a young Yadier Molina, a relationship that should grow further and work as one of St. Louis' strengths in 2012.

One key for an inexperienced manager is his staff, and with Duncan expected to return, Matheny will have the game's most respected pitching coach at his right hand.

Another important hire will be Matheny's bench coach, presumably a veteran man with managerial experience. Colleague Danny Knobler is hearing that former Red Sox and Dodgers manager Grady Little is a possibility to join Matheny in St. Louis.

Matheny was chosen ahead of five other candidates: Terry Francona, who most recently managed the Red Sox; Chris Maloney, who managed St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis last year; Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Famer and former Cubs star who managed Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate; Joe McEwing, who managed the White Sox Triple-A affiliate, and Jose Oquendo, the Cardinals' third-base coach.
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Comments

Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

I was kind of surprised you all didn't hire Francona. But I always said  the former Willie Mac winner would be a good manager someday if given the chance.





Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:56 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

With matt kemp close to an 8 year 160 mill contract, Albert should pay close attention. As a lifelong Cardinal fan, i want albert back but not on a 10 year deal. i agree with the points  others make  8 years and frontload it. However, dont break the bank, take that money and add pieces we really need in the middle infield and another 3 or 4 starter.



Since: Oct 20, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:39 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

4 million more a year!  Are you kidding?  That is not not enough to re-sign Pujols.  The guy is looking for that and more plus a 10 year contract.  News flash 10 year contracts don't exist anymore.  I think St. Louis has to start negotiations in the AROD area of $27mil a year and wait and see what Pujols agent counters with.  But look for a 5 or 6 year contract tops at $30 mil a year.  Only a hanful of clubs can afford him and no one can afford a 10 year contract without a crystal ball guarantee he stays healthy!



Yes, $4m more per year.  That could up their offer from an average of $23m/year to $27m/year.  More likely though, it would allow them to add that much to the front years of his contract, so maybe an addition $10-15m in total increase, to be applied over the first 3-4 years of the contract.




Since: Oct 20, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

What about Dave Duncan?  Did he not want the stress, prestige and money?  Has he not earned a chance? Personnel decisions of this magnitude are made on an ability to get along with the other children not someones ethnic background.


Duncan will likely retire after this season.  That is, if he decides to coach in 2012.  His wife is in poor health and he may decide to hang up the cleats now to be with her.



Since: Oct 20, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:34 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

Pujols is not getting his 10 year contract.  Those days are over and can his ego and pride accept a 5 or 6 year deal and have him happy in St. Louis?  For spite I expect he goes some place else.  He was already dissed that a deal didn't get done before the start of this past season.  But I seriously doubt Albert lands in St. Louis again and who is going to pay the asking price?  Albert and his agent won't back down.  Inflated egos particularily after 10 years of being the best MLB player and a recent WS Championship have a way of breaking up good teams if not great teams.

He doesn't have to accept a 5 or 6 year deal.  The Cardinals have a 9 year/$210m offer on the plate already.




Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

Real brave saying a team won't repeat. Repeats don't happen very often, but I wouldn't count the cards out this early either they just proved it ain't over till it's over.



Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

What about Dave Duncan?  Did he not want the stress, prestige and money?  Has he not earned a chance? Personnel decisions of this magnitude are made on an ability to get along with the other children not someones ethnic background.



Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

4 million more a year!  Are you kidding?  That is not not enough to re-sign Pujols.  The guy is looking for that and more plus a 10 year contract.  News flash 10 year contracts don't exist anymore.  I think St. Louis has to start negotiations in the AROD area of $27mil a year and wait and see what Pujols agent counters with.  But look for a 5 or 6 year contract tops at $30 mil a year.  Only a hanful of clubs can afford him and no one can afford a 10 year contract without a crystal ball guarantee he stays healthy!



Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:37 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

The Cardinals will not repeat with or without Pujols or the 200mil spent on replacement players.  Their 2011 WS was the perfect storm coming together ala the 2002 Angels and 2005 White Sox.  Everybody gets lucky at some point.  Notice we left out the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox..those were really good teams all the way around, managed well with great offense, defense and pitching.  God smiled upon the Cardinals this year.  A rookie manager is not coming in and run the team like LaRussa to a repeat of 2011.  The Cardinals will contend but I look for serious upgrades in the Cubs and Milwaukee with or without Fielder.  Philly now that they have a real closer will be really tough even without Howard.  Pujols is not getting his 10 year contract.  Those days are over and can his ego and pride accept a 5 or 6 year deal and have him happy in St. Louis?  For spite I expect he goes some place else.  He was already dissed that a deal didn't get done before the start of this past season.  But I seriously doubt Albert lands in St. Louis again and who is going to pay the asking price?  Albert and his agent won't back down.  Inflated egos particularily after 10 years of being the best MLB player and a recent WS Championship have a way of breaking up good teams if not great teams.



Since: May 30, 2008
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:31 am
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

This is a smart move by the Cards i think.  Start completely fresh and new.  How do you follow a HOF manager...with a very green one that was a beloved clubhouse leader.  Just THANK GOD they didnt hire Sandberg.


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