July 15, 2018

Cardinals can Mike Matheny while flailing at midseason

I've been wanting the Birds to say sayonara to Mike Matheny as manager for years. Hell, I wanted John Mozeliak to hire Terry Francona instead of Matheny to fill the Tony La Russa retirement in the first place.

And, now he's gone. Along with hitting coach John Mabry and his assistant Bill Mueller.

I was going to do a midseason update blog in the next day or two anyway, and now I have the perfect additional reason.

Matheny, as Bernie Miklasz said recently, even with Mike Maddux as his new pitching coach, still hasn't learned how to manage a bullpen. Or starters at times. And, even with Jose Oquendo back coaching, the team is still boneheaded at times on the basepaths.

So he needed to go. But ... a midseason firing is very rare in St. Louis. The last time? As the Red Satan noted, more than 20 years ago, when Mike Jorgenson, as an interim, replaced Joe Torre.

But ... Bernie halfway predicted this Friday, including Mabry going, too. Mueller may have been collateral damage or a "message." Sunday, DeWitt said the team needed "a fresh voice and some new leadership." (Per that piece, Mark Budaska comes up from Memphis to replace Mabry.)

And, the biggie, as Red Satan notes? The team winning percentage has dropped each year from 2015 on.

This is the typical stir-up-the-team midseason firing. Will it work?

Probably not. Fangraphs has the Cards' playoff odds at 20 percent, and that was before Saturday night's loss to the Reds. (Back to back stinker home losses to Cincinnati probably contributed to the trigger being pulled.)

Dexter Fowler, the second bad FA signing by Mozeliak after Mike Leake — who is sucking more for Seattle this year than the Cards last year, if that's consolation to some fans who saw his post-trade 2017 peak with the Mariners — was followed by Marcell Ozuna as a bad trade instead of the team waiting out the Marlins (if Derrick Goold is passing on true dope on that) and signing Christian Yelich instead, may be a permanent dead weight thanks to Mo throwing him under the bus.

Matheny's reportedly using Bud Norris as a bullpen snitch, if even half true, has poisoned things there.

Injuries to Yadi Molina and Paul DeJong hurt, but not THAT much. If you're leaning on your 35-year-old catcher and your second-year shortstop to be that much of the offensive spark, you got bigger problems.

Sure, there may be a mild bump, but ... the team is not that good. Ozuna may still have shoulder problems, Tommy Pham may not hit last year's peaks, and who knows elsewhere?

As for "next year"? Mike Schildt is clearly an interim (I think).

But, maybe Schildt should NOT be an interim. I don't know if Yadi is the best batter on the team right now or not, but Schildt put him in the 2-hole for Sunday's game, and modern analytics says that's where the best guy should hit. (Actually, he's not, and Matt Carpenter should be in that slot, not leadoff, going by OPS+. Also, without totally throwing him under the bus, Ozuna should be moved down one spot, or more, from cleanup.)

Goold said Joe Girardi will be among those considered, passing on a tweet from Jon Heyman. That's the fricking kiss of death. Pass, unless Girardi has fixed whatever issued led the Yankees to fire him. If I recall, Girardi was analytics-resistant, and not always regarded as friendly to younger players. Definitely not the right fit.

Speaking of firings and fixings, maybe it's time to move on from Mozeliak. Bill DeWitt, feel free to pull a trigger. A year ago, when he did a sort of midseason shakeup, or threatened to, Mo said he believed in being held accountable himself. Good. Get rid of him.

As DeWitt said in the Bernie "decoder" piece, the offense sucks. DeWitt thinks it has potential to do better. Is it more that, or does it actually suck due to talent issues, in which case a new president or super GM is needed as much as a new manager?

A new PBO, or whatever title you give him, with Girsch, might bring new angles to on-field management, minor-league development and free agency.

St. Louis has declined as a destination for top-level free agents. So, look for more mid-level ones and use incentive-heavy contracts.

No comments: