The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Cardinals' Mike Shildt Another Example of Bold Managerial Change

New St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has the team’s fans energized and talking about being relevant again.  Not a familiar name among most baseball fans, Shildt was named the Cardinals manager on July 15, replacing Mike Matheny who had been a successful manager since 2010.  But with the Cards just barely playing .500 ball, the Cardinals’ front office felt like something needed to change and decided to pull the plug on Matheny.

Initially Shildt got an “interim” tag as the new manager; but after leading the team to a 26-12 record, he was named the permanent manager on August 28.  Usually, teams making this type of in-season change wait until the end of the season to evaluate the interim’s performance compared to other possible managerial candidates.  In any case, Shildt now has the Cardinals ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central Division and making a run at the leading Chicago Cubs.

Shildt had previously been the bench coach for St. Louis, but he had quietly risen to the job after only having joined the major-league staff in 2017.  He’s had a remarkable ascent through the Cardinals organization.  He never played professional baseball and initially began work with the Cardinals a scout.  He started managing in the low minors in their farm system and eventually progressed to the top of their system.  An advantage he has as the big-league manager is that he’s already familiar with most of the players on the current roster who came up through the Cardinals’ farm system.”

It was a bold move by the Cardinals to remove Matheny, who was well-respected within the baseball community.  After having led the Cards to four straight playoff berths, including three division titles and a NL pennant in 2013, he had earned a reputation as one of the best baseball minds in the dugout.  But pressure mounted for a change this season when it appeared the Cardinals wouldn’t get into playoff contention for the third season in a row, trailing Chicago and Milwaukee.  With little optimism for a turnaround, Cards GM John Mozeliak pulled the trigger on Matheny two days before the All-Star break.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, Mozeliak’s change has worked so far.  The Cardinals have been 29-14 since Shildt took over and are now in second place 4 ½ games back of the Cubs.  In the month of August, they led all major-league clubs with a 22-6 record.

Shildt’s promotion is really no surprise in today’s managerial chess game.  After the 2017 season, veteran managers John Farrell (Red Sox), Dusty Baker (Nationals), and Joe Girardi (Yankees), all of whom led playoff teams last year, were replaced by the new breed of managers.  The new skippers have little or no managerial experience at any professional level, but bring a focus on newer thinking with respect to the use of analytical data to drive decision-making on the field.  Ironically, Matheny, himself, was one of the first of these new breed of managers at the beginning of the decade.

Shildt is an “organization guy,” entrenched in the Cardinals’ approach to playing the game right.  That came from the time he spent with George Kissell, the long-time coach in the Cardinals system, and some of Kissell’s disciples.  Shildt has benefitted from an influx of young players from the farm system during his short tenure.  He has received praise from his players and coaching staff and apparently has the rejuvenated team headed in the right direction—ideally to gain a berth in this year’s playoffs.

Add a Comment

(Enter the numbers shown in the above image)