By now you’ve probably read the Mark Saxon ESPN.com interview with Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny.
It’s produced some takes:
- Bernie said Mike might be dealing w/ “alternative facts“
- BenFred said “Mike should hear his own message“
- Craig Edwards at VEB made a whole Facebook Live show on it!
As you may (or may not) know, the Cardinals have regressed slowly under Mr. Matheny’s leadership.
- 2012 – Lost in NLCS
- 2013 – Lost in World Series
- 2014 – Lost in NLCS
- 2015 – Lost in NLDS
- 2016 – Missed playoffs
Fun fact: the Cardinals are 1-3 in their last 4 postseason series!
Now, all of this is certainly not on Mr. Matheny. You can argue just how much of an impact the manager has on any given baseball team for days and not get any clear answers.
Heck, the 2016 World Series might be the perfect distillation of this: did Joe Maddon’s easy going managerial style propel the Cubs to their first Championship in 108 years or did his moves actively hurt his team and the players overcame?
Don’t know. Won’t know.
You’d like to see the skip of a team that missed the playoffs because of some glaring weaknesses working to address said weaknesses.
Let’s go to the piece:
Saxon: You have talked about making some changes to spring training in light of some of the miscues the team made during 2016. Can you be more specific at this point?
Matheny: I’m going to still stay vague on that. I’ll still be on the phone with our players touching base with them. I have to make sure I’m hearing what they say. I need to make sure we’re on the same page, because we won’t get what we’re looking for if there isn’t complete buy-in. Some guys are going to need to be swayed. There has to be a cohesiveness about it. I’m also a believer that some messages are not meant to be shared publicly. They’re meant to stay inside the clubhouse. I always look to be more efficient and to incorporate ways of having a good time, while working hard at the same time. I’m also taking input from guys who have been in different organizations and been successful. I think it always helps to kind of make each year a little different.
I’ll give partial credit for stating up front that he’s going to stay vague. But remind me again why he didn’t just say “hey, we weren’t good at defense last year, so we’ve been working hard on it all off-season, will continue to work on it in spring training and expect more from ourselves in 2017”?
Wouldn’t that have worked?
Feel free to read the rest of the piece – this is the second question printed – but I checked out right then and there.
Didn’t need more anxiety at the moment.
After the season the Cardinals had in 2016, I was really hoping Mr. Matheny would take the opportunity to experiment with his managerial style. Use those extra few weeks in October that he’s never had as skip to try and expand his horizons instead of doubling down on his current syllabus.
Pitchers and catchers report next week.