SocraticGadfly: A few details slip out about Cardinals firing Mike Shildt; journos smell rat reading between the lines

October 16, 2021

A few details slip out about Cardinals firing Mike Shildt; journos smell rat reading between the lines

As St. Louis Cardinals fans in particular and MLB fans in general know, it isn't usual to fire a manager on the same day as a baseball playoff game. In fact, team president John Mozeliak had to touch base with the commissioners office first, per the Post-Distpatch account and others.

Several things of note here.

First, "philosophical differences," even if (allegedly by Mo, Shildt hadn't commented yet) are on the field only still doesn't necessitate this much of a rush, unLESS

UnLESS, per below AND

Update, Oct. 18: As hinted at by Shildt in his just-finished presser, these "differences" included roster management and talking about roster management in public, or not. In short, whether the manager should kiss the head honcho's ass in public. Note that Shildt talked about differences of opinion, not "philosophical differences." More straightforward.

Mo was worried that Stubby Clapp or Oliver Marmol were already on the short list of another team that hasn't yet made a managerial move, but is expected to do so soon. 

I'll take Mo at face value that they're front-runners to replace Shildt and that, even should Aaron Boone be fired by non-renewal, Mo wouldn't go that direction. (There's other reasons he wouldn't do Boone; see below.)

(Update, Oct. 24: RedSatan says it IS Marmol; the Post-Dispatch confirms. The Athletic allegedly had first news, further showing the erosion of local daily papers, sadly. At 35, first job? His lips will surely pucker nicely to Mo's ass. At the PD, Ben Frederickson says Mo should be sure to define the new manager's role well.)

Second, Mo did this himself, rather than handing off to nominal GM Mike Girsch. (Probably reasons for that, too; see below.)

Third, the presser to announce this was Zoom, not in-person, per the STL Sports Page account. Was Mo hoping to avoid at least a bit of grilling that way? (Especially since the firing was over the phone, per the PD's Ben Frederickson, as linked below.)

Fourth, Mo had a shorter hook than he did with Mike Matheny. A FAR shorter hook. Matheny was a bigger ass-kisser, is likely why.

That off the field? That ass-kissing? As in the incidents above? Shildt probably pissed off Mo in some way. BenFred tackles that issue. He adds that it appears to focus on hitting coach Jeff Albert, loved much more by Mo than Shildt. Second, as far as lack of ass-kissing? Shildt's public complaints about the lineup. Quoting Ben:

Multiple times this season Shildt made comments about his team doing the best it could with what it had. The front office is not a fan of a manager lobbying for upgrades, publicly or privately. Problem is, that’s exactly why the Cardinals need a manager who does just that, because it provides some pressure on the front office to improve during a season, which is the one thing the Cardinals have struggled to do or refrained from even trying to do in recent seasons. Shildt did not campaign from the start. He used to say such things were above his pay grade. He began to speak more freely this season. Some fans failed to interpret his pleas. The front office didn’t.

There you go.

Also per Ben? Mo admitted it was in part about Albert when he said it wasn't entirely about that.

Speaking of? This guy notes the far less fulsome praise for Shildt after his firing:

Probably connected again to the lack of ass-kissing.

Cardinal70 also notes no comment from DeWitt, or DeWallet, as Miklasz used to call it. Ben Fred says DeWitt looked irritated to have to be summoned himself on short notice.

I do like the BS from Mo: "With just one year remaining ... it was in everyone's best interest we addressed this now."

Really, Mo? You couldn't address this ... two weeks later?

And, who's "everyone"? You and the mouse in your pocket called Girsch?

Color me skeptical that this is as Mo is trying to sell it.

Another note: Even if, as Schoenfield alleged at Red Satan, this all boils down to his decision to use Alex Reyes at the end of the wild-card game to face Chris Taylor, or that decision as a microcosm of pitcher handling, did that still necessitate this haste?

No, deny as you will, this smacks of something OFF the field.

The Cardinals outperformed their Pythagorean this year by five games. They were even last year and -1 in 2019. They were at Pythag in 2018, but much below for the first three-fifths of the season when Matheny was still in charge. As the PD notes elsewhere, Shildt had a better season than Mo.

My guess is that, after the wild-card game, Mo and Shildt got into a red-ass argument. Mo may have raised the Reyes issue and Shildt may have said once more, per Darrell Royal, "You pitch with them what brung you," and that led to the shit-canning.

Will Shildt land on his feet? Ben Frederickson and John Alba are among commentators suggesting the Padres should scoop him up and fast to replace Jayce Tingler. And, reports have it that the Padres have started kicking his tires.

Tingler, Shildt and Luis Rojas are the three managers so far fired after the end of the season.

This isn't the first time Mo has been secretive, or weird, on major baseball decisions. Remember how he handled Shelby Miller being on the postseason roster yet not playing several years ago? I blogged about that not once, not twice, but three times, it was so puzzling, and over multiple rounds of the 2013 postseason. Remember when Mo called out "junior GMs" for second guessing him over moves like this and the late Oscar Taveras? And then threw Taveras under the bus?

As for the replacement? Rick Hummel says that Nolan Arenado, he of long-term contract and opt-out options, should have some say on a replacement. He also notes it won't be Chris Carpenter, who has joined the Haloes. 

Besides, Cards fans who remember Carp know there's no way he'd be an ass-kisser. And, Aaron Boone, after managing the Yankees, wouldn't be, either.

So, it's likely Clapp or Marmol. Marmol may have an edge as a minority candidate.

Whoever it is, Derrick Goold says Mo has to nail this one.

And, after a few years, when one or the other of them are fired? Mo hires from within again, to get another ass-kisser.

Is Shildt perfect? No.

Has he arguably had bullpen management problems? Yes. Or too much Matt Carpenter too high in the order? Yes.

He's still a player's manager, and again, a good one.

As for what Mo did to address Shildt's lineup complaints? 

Don't be this guy, n Twitter 10 days ago when discussing Shildt's presser:

To which I responded:

What else can you say? That this guy kisses Mo's ass, too? That he thinks Mo's making it rain when he's peeing on my leg?

Jon Lester is dealt with. J.A. Happ also was a sub-100 ERA plus and high in other sabermetrics, though not as bad as Lester. Happ maybe treaded water; Lester was still a sinking rock. Period.

Wade LeBlanc? Broke 100 on ERA+, but other sabermetrics were worse than Lester.

That leaves two of the five mentioned pitchers, T.J. McFarland and Luis Garcia, as adding value as late acquisitions. And, both of them had already been used in the wild-card game before Shildt called on Alex Reyes, as had Giovanny Gallegos. If you're going fault Shildt for that? He's managing for one game to win the one-game wild-card playoff. Be more serious.

Again, Shildt outperformed Pythag in two of four seasons, and the Padres were quick to indicate their interest in him.

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