Francona needs to become Matheny’s role model

Terry Francona just completed his 12th consecutive winning season as a big league manager — eight in Boston and four in Cleveland.

With the announcement that John Mozeliak is going to meet with Mike Matheny and start talks about a possible contract extension and all that goes with making that kind of announcement. Several in Cardinal Nation have made reference that things could have been much different if the Cardinals had just chosen a different manager back in 2012.

Terry Francona did interview with the Cardinals. It was right after the Red Sox imploded with fried chicken and boozing during games. Terry Francona was the sacrificial lamb. 

No one had ever doubted that Francona was a good manager. He had survived and thrive in Boston which is not easy to do. However, there were questions at the time questioning how could Francona let things get so far out of control. Was Francona too much of a player’s manager?

It seems that Terry Francona was never a serious contender. If I remember correctly John Mozeliak was wanting to have someone who had an attachment to the Cardinals.

That has proven to be a mistake that Mozeliak and DeWitt are going to give an extension to.

In my opinion, the one issue that is holding the Cardinals back is the lack of integration of the front office and the field staff. It just hasn’t happened. Matheny ignores data. Matheny ignores organizational goals.

If you are asking well how would that work?

Matheny should use Francona as a role model.

Cleveland.com posted the following:

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Terry Francona said there are times when he asks Sky Andrecheck a question that makes the Indians’ senior director of baseball research and development want to run around the room screaming.

Sometimes the Indians manager is serious; sometimes he’s just trying to add fuel to the conversation.

The Indians are deep into analytics, have been for a long time. How deep? Well, Keith Woolner, a member of the department, has the title of “principal data scientist, baseball analytics.” That sounds deep.

Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, is right there as well.

“I’ve said some stupid things in those meetings and Chris just lets it roll off him,” said Francona with a laugh. “He knows two days later I’ll come to my senses.”

Francona always says Antonetti is the smartest guy in the room, he just doesn’t show it. Well, Francona goes about managing the same way – and it has led the Indians to four straight winning seasons, highlighted by this year’s AL Central title.

It was the Indians’ first division title since 2007 and gave Francona 12 consecutive winning seasons in the big leagues.

When Francona was hired to manage the Phillies in 1997, he wrote the batter-pitcher matchups on the back of his lineup card for every game.

“I didn’t have a computer, and when somebody made a lineup change it was like, ‘Oh, man,’ ” said Francona with a laugh.

“I didn’t know the word sabermetric then, but I was probably trying to figure it out – OK, it just doesn’t have to be left-on-left all the time. This guy is hitting .380 against lefties, but the people in the upper deck might be second guessing you. But it’s probably not the right thing to do (to let a left-handed pitcher face a left-handed batter who is hitting .380 against lefties).”

Francona received a computer in 2003 as Oakland’s bench coach. In 2004, he was named manager of the Red Sox and got another computer. He’s been papering parts of his dugout wall game-in-and-game-out with printouts, matchups and other pertinent information ever since.

Does that make Francona, 57, a New Wave manager? Somebody who runs a game strictly by the numbers instead of his gut or emotions? Hardly, but Francona has taken what works for him from baseball’s analytical revolution.

“I’ve always tried to learn as I go,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re missing the boat.”

It was Francona’s idea to move Carlos Santana from the middle of the lineup to the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching. The analytics people weren’t sure. Francona was taking a power hitter out of the middle of the lineup and letting him hit at least once a game with no one on base.

Tribe's Santana sets good tone from leadoff spot

Tribe’s Santana sets good tone from leadoff spot

The Indians are 29-12 when Carlos Santana hits leadoff this season. Manager Terry Francona has been using in the leadoff spot against right-handers since mid-April.

The move worked as Santana hit .260 (85-for-327) with 19 homers, 41 RBI and .886 OPS as a leadoff hitter. Overall, Santana hit a career-high 34 homers.

But what Francona does best is manage players. He does it by talking to them.

“Tito is the total package,” said reliever Andrew Miller. “It’s his ability to communicate with anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pitcher or position player, he has the ability to put players in a position to succeed.

“Cleveland brought him here for a reason. He’s backed it up.”

In a game against the Phillies on April 29, Francona used closer Cody Allen in the 10th inning with the score tied, 3-3. Using your closer on the road in a tie game is always a dicey situation for a manager. Allen grinded through six batters in the 10th, but ended the inning with the score still tied.

Cody Allen on mound for Tribe clincher

Cody Allen on mound for Tribe clincher

“It was almost like when I asked my wife to marry me,” Allen said. “I couldn’t tell you what I said, what happened. I was so nervous, so excited, all at the same time. It just happened.”

Francona sent Allen out for the 11th and he allowed a game-winning, lead-off homer to Ryan Howard on a 3-2 pitch. More than five months later, Francona was still kicking himself for that.

But he said that one mistake turned into something good.

“It spurred me to sit down and talk to Cody, (Corey) Kluber and (Josh) Tomlin,” said Francona. “I said, ‘Hey, man, we’ve been together four years now. We need to have our communication be so much better. That needs to be one of our advantages.’

“And it was because I messed up. But, we turned it into something better, and it has helped.”

Tribe, Allen lost to Phillies on walk-off homer

Tribe, Allen lost to Phillies on walk-off homer

The Phillies overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Indians, 4-3, on Ryan Howard’s walk-off homer in the 11th inning on Friday night.

Said Allen, “I didn’t communicate certain things properly. We talked the next day and we came to the conclusion that in order for us to be good, and for each individual guy in the bullpen to be at their best, we need to communicate.

“That was a fault on my end. That’s one thing Tito is so good at. He communicates so well with his players. Especially when it comes to managing a bullpen – you have to be able to communicate with guys, and he does an unbelievable job.”

Antonetti and the rest of the front office have given Francona one of MLB’s most versatile lineups. Indians batters enjoyed the platoon advantage this season 70 percent of the time to lead the big leagues. Tribe pitchers enjoyed it 54 percent of the time, tying Atlanta for the first in the big leagues.

Francona has juggled platoons at the three outfield positions and for part of the season at third base. There were several times in September that he had five switch hitters in the lineup.

Stress factor? What stress factor?

“When you’re getting cooperation and people are kind of selfless, where they’re willing to do this to make it work, it’s actually pretty fun,” said Francona.

It has been the same story in the bullpen where Francona has taken Miller, one of baseball’s top relievers, and used him in a variety of late-inning roles in conjunction, while still respecting the tenure and work of Bryan Shaw and Allen.

So who pitches where in Tribe bullpen?

So who pitches where in Tribe bullpen?

The addition of lefty Andrew Miller means the roles in the Indians bullpen are about to change. Just who will pitch where has yet to be determined.

“Tito is a master at it,” said Antonetti. “He really understands people. He builds relationships. He creates connections. He has the right balance of providing a professional prepared group, but also having fun doing it.

“If there’s anybody better, I’m not sure I’ve been around him.”

Source: Here’s what makes Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona successful on the field | cleveland.com

We have never read a post like this when referring to Mike Matheny’s management and relationship with the front office. Mozeliak needs to make this happen.  

If Matheny is going to be extended this has to happen. The Cardinals will not be a serious contender for a World Series victory until it does.

Later. 

Cards looking to extend Matheny-Are you good with that?

Cardinals Matheny and Mozeliak talk of the future:

John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny had their end of year press conference. Bill DeWitt gave an interview to Bernie Miklasz. The highlights are that the Cardinals will talk an extension with Mike Matheny. The Cardinals will try to find a center fielder.

The goals for 2017 are run the bases better. Play better defense. Pitch better. Ok. Here is the breakdown:    

The Cardinals’ manager has one year remaining on an extension he signed after winning the National League pennant in 2013. General manager John Mozeliak confirmed Wednesday that he expects to talk to the manager about a new contract. The club would prefer not to have Matheny enter the coming season with just a year on his contract.

“Certainly, we feel like him being a part of the organization is the goal,” Mozeliak said.

Mr DeWitt’s comments to Bernie:

On Mike Matheny’s strong attributes and 2016 performance:

“Mike’s a terrific guy who was an excellent player and great teammate. We knew that when we signed him as manager. And he has the utmost respect of the players. I think as you see managers who fail, a lot of times it’s because they lose the club. They don’t have the respect of the players. Mike has that and that’s a great attribute for a manager. Maybe the most critical attribute.”

“I think this year with the pieces we had, it was certainly easy to second guess who should playing and who should be hitting…Because we decided to shore up our bench, which we did, and our bench players really performed well…From a strategic standpoint it was a little bit of a tough team to manage and I think that leads into some of the speculation that he should’ve done this here or should’ve done that there.”

On what he believes did the team in this past season:

“We didn’t get off to a very good start. Our bullpen wasn’t good early. I think midway through the season and late it was excellent. So we didn’t win some games we should’ve won. In addition to that, I think we’re used to seeing better defense and baserunning on a Cardinal team.

“Our offense…While we scored a lot of runs, we were not as consistent. We were home run dependent. But I will say I think we got really hurt when Diaz and Carpenter went out together and Holliday of course was hurt too. It was just bad timing when that all happened. And then when they came back they weren’t the same player. When you’re out that long it takes you a while to get going.”

On building off of an 86-win season:

“86 games is nothing to sneeze at. A lot of clubs would be happy to have 86 wins…We’ve won world championships with less and haven’t won with more wins. The key is to get into the postseason. I think we let some games slip away that we’d love to have back.

“It was a little bit different makeup of a club, certainly from last year when we had the great pitching…That really wasn’t sustainable. That was almost a record staff of five guys that pitched so well all season long.

“86 wins is something to build on and hopefully we can add to the core that we have. I think the good thing we have is a good young core of players to go with our seasoned veterans. The goal of course is to always bring young players into the system and keep that going.”

Source: Offseason Changes Coming: Mozeliak Says He’ll Address Starting Pitching, Defense, and Speed – 101Sports.com

Derrick Goold adds some details: 

The free-agent market for center fielders could include Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler, but it’s the trade market that has the potential to be more fertile. Past conversations with Colorado about Charlie Blackmon will reignite, and the Cardinals could explore the availability of other outfielders, like the White Sox’s Adam Eaton. Pittsburgh will reportedly shop Andrew McCutchen this winter. It’s unclear if Arizona’s turmoil will make whiz A.J. Pollock available.

Mozeliak did not name names, only goals.

“Clean up our game,” Mozeliak said. “You think about the defense, the baserunning … if we do a better job there, we should be a better club. Our division is getting tougher. So adding or making sure that we bring in the right pieces to fulfill that will also help.”

Mozeliak acknowledged that at times the need for offense was so paramount that “defense took a back seat.” Matheny predicted more power for 2016 and got it. The Cardinals hit 225 home runs, including almost as many on the road (121) as they had anywhere in 2015 (137). That 64.2 percent jump in homers fueled a 20.4 percent hike in runs scored. However, all of the gains were undermined by steep declines elsewhere.

The starting rotation’s ERA inflated 44.8 percent to 4.33.

The runs allowed jumped 35.6 percent, from 525 to 712.

Source: Cards seek more athletic ability

The general theme was that stuff happens during the season. Players get hurt at the wrong time. Work on all the issues next spring training. Because, evidently nothing can be done during the regular season. Something that has been true during the Matheny years.

Whatever the issue is at the beginning of the season. Remains the issue until the Cardinals are eliminated. 

According to Mr. Dewitt, Mike is a great leader and the players respect him and that is the most important thing. John Mozeliak will defend Mike Matheny. But, never praises him. A clear difference. I don’t think Mozeliak likes Matheny as much as his boss.

Mr. DeWitt stated the 2016 team was difficult to manage with all the options and inconsistent performances by the players. That is a close as we came to an actual acknowledgement of what happened on the field. Mozeliak acknowledges that they should be a better club.

However, ignores the elephant in the room and never gives an explanation as to why they are not better.

So I guess the only take away from all this, is Mr. DeWitt’s philosophy of hire a good man and let him do his job. Trumps everything else. Mozeliak will continue to try to build a club that addresses the issues. Because the manager evidently is incapable of doing that during the season.

But, Mike is a good guy. They will talk a contract extension.

You know what I enjoy. In last night’s wild card game in the 5th inning with Bumgarner and Syndergaard locked in a pitchers duel. After a Riveria double and 2 outs. Bochy had Bumgarner intentionally walked the 8th place hitter.

It was the first intentional walk Bumgarner had issued all year-long.

A manager making the critical decision that in a game, that was going to be decided by one big moment. Bochy was going to make sure that an 8th place hitter, was not going to beat the Giants. Bumgarner struck out Syndergaard to end the threat.

It was a critical moment in the game. Bochy managed the situation. Something we rarely see Mike Matheny do. Matheny would have left it up to Bumgarner, to grind it out. Because that is what Matheny does.

Have faith in the veteran player to produce a good result. Either way, it might have worked. But, one manager tries to put his player in a better position for a positive result. The other manager hopes for a good outcome.

Cardinal fans, don’t get to see those moments. It’s very frustrating. And it looks like we will not be seeing them for the foreseeable future. 

But, Matheny is a good guy and is respected by his players. So let’s talk extension.

I believe that Matheny buys his loyalty from the veteran players by providing unlimited opportunity and never holds them accountable when they don’t produce. I guess that is one way to manage. However, certainly not the modern game.

I try to figure out what an organization is all about. For myself, the most interesting part of baseball, is all the decisions that are made. Analyzing the what if’s. It is what makes the game entertaining. 

The off-season is just as interesting as the regular season for me. But, that will not be the  case this off-season. With Matheny coming back. There are no moves that Mozeliak will be able to pull off that will keep the Cards within 10 games of the Cubs. Matheny will not maximize his assets. Will not out manage the other manager to steal some wins.

The Cardinals based upon their talent and the other wild card contenders will have a shot at the 2017 wild card. However, Matheny will not have the team ready to perform for the postseason. And does not have the in-game abilities to win it all in the postseason.   

Some in Cardinal Nation call that hating. I call it Matheny work history. You are foolish to expect anything different. Until Matheny actually makes a change. 

Evidently, John Mozeliak chooses to exert no control over what Mike Matheny does on a daily basis. The “my input ends where the field begins” mantra, is the way the organization conducts itself. This is a mistake.

A billion dollar company putting the results in the hands of one man. Just dumb. Not the modern game. It should be a group effort. Coming up with agreed upon methods to execute the plan. It is what the better organizations are doing. It is no longer just the managers game to win or lose.    

It was interesting that Mozeliak when discussing the issues with the team, left out anything that would be under the umbrella of Mike Matheny’s decisions. No mention of lineup choices, in-game decision-making. It was all ignored. That is a big problem.

Ignoring what in my estimation, is about half of the Cardinal Nation is seeing. Is not the way to keep them interested. It’s a dangerous game to play. Underestimating the intelligence of your customers never works.

See how the Brewers handled their rebuild. They were honest with the fans. Addressed the issues and told the fans what they were going to try to fix it. It worked. The Brewers seem to be on the right track. That’s how you do business.  

The Cardinals are not doing that.

My conclusions:

  • Mr. DeWitt values Mike’s character over performance.
  • Mr. DeWitt is not going make a change, until the Cardinals are no longer in contention. As Mr. DeWitt stated, a lot of teams would like to have 86 wins. 
  • I was wrong about Mr. DeWitt evaluation of Matheny. Thought Mr. DeWitt would go for putting the Cardinals on the right track to win a WS.
  •  For an owner that was way ahead of the rest of baseball when it come to putting together an analytical front office. Mr. DeWitt has chosen to ignore the numbers on Matheny. By any measure Matheny is a below average manager. 
  • John Mozeliak will never insist that Mike Matheny make changes on what happens on the field. Will continue to provide the information. But, it is all up to Matheny and the coaches how that is applied during the game.
  • The Cardinals are in big trouble.

In my opinion, the Cardinals will have enough talent to field a competitive team going forward. However, the gap between them and the properly run organizations will continue to grow. The Cardinals, at this moment, have no chance of keeping up with the Cubs and the Dodgers. They both have a total team approach, between the front office and the field staff.

Within the division, the Brewers have started this integration process and are on the right track. The Pirates who have this already have this integration in place. But, are limited by their smaller payroll. Will continue to outperform expectations and as long as Neal Huntington is around, will be a tough team to beat. I’m constantly stunned the fans in Pittsburgh, don’t understand this.

With Matheny staying around. It is going to become harder for the Cardinals to qualify for a wild card. Next year will probably be the last year that this is a given. If the Reds can dump the Votto contract. They will also become more of a contender. 

This could all change due to the Cardinals getting younger. Matheny might not be so entrenched with the veterans. Because there will simply not be that many around. Matheny might demonstrate the ability to do more in-game managing. Mike has been doing it with the younger guys since they arrived at the major league level. Fewer agendas. Maybe.

Losing Holliday was key. Without Matheny basing everything around Holliday. The Cardinals might pick up 5 games on that move alone. Addition by subtraction.

With Mozeliak making a center fielder a priority. Grichuk in left. That would leave Moss exclusively at 1st base. Which would mean that Carpenter would have to play 2nd or 3rd taking away playing time from Gyorko and Wong. It would be easier just to put Carpenter at 1st.

If that happens Moss really has no place to play. Remember, Mo is going to dumb down the choices. I don’t think Mo will put a qualifying on Moss. Due to his vanishing act in August and September. 

Losing Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss, might make Matheny a significantly better manager. That is two of Matheny’s favorites. It might work. Once again Mozeliak making moves to Matheny proof the team. Unbelievable.

Especially, since every other team is going for more versatility and depth. Which apparently was too much for Matheny to handle. 

I do think Mr. DeWitt is wrong, about the level of respect that Matheny, has among the players. That is true with the veterans that reflect Matheny’s values. Which just so happens to be white, married and evangelical christians. They are becoming a smaller part of the team.

The Hispanic players on the team have the most upside and talent. Martinez, Reyes, Diaz will become the new core. With the large influx of international players in the farm system this percentage will continue to grow.

When Yadi makes post on Instagram, you will see the Hispanic players, all hanging out with a few of the young white players. Never see white veterans in the mix.

If Grichuk and Wong become regulars. They are not going to be part of the Matheny fan club. Not as much as they have been jerked around.

Piscotty seems like more of a diplomat. I don’t see him joining any group. Will be more of a get along with everyone type of guy. Will not take sides. Will listen, but more than likely, will not express an opinion.

Jedd Gyorko is destined to be a swing man. So, by position it will be hard for him to become part of the new core. If Jedd stays as a Cardinal. He has real value. Could be trade bait. 

That would leave only Matt Carpenter, as the only starter, firmly in Matheny’s camp. Could become a problem going forward. 

Grichuk and Wong came back from the minors and proclaimed no one was going to tell them how to play. Martinez after losing 3 games in a row. Went back to being a gunslinger and starting winning again. Yadi’s base running exploits. Yadi was definately doing his own thing. Yadi runs the clubhouse. Loose Yadi. Loose the team.

I’m not really sure that the players are listening to Matheny and the coaches any longer.   

The Cardinals need to get a couple Hispanic coaches on the staff, now that Oquendo is staying in Jupiter. Before this becomes a “thing”. That is one move that has to happen this offseason.

Summation:

The Cardinals are making a big mistake bringing back Mike Matheny. Mr. DeWitt failed to put the Cardinals on the right track going forward. The best Cardinal Nation can hope for is that the Cardinals remain a team in contention for the wild card.

However, If you look at Matheny performance trend line, since making the 2013 World Series. The Cardinals each year have fallen further from that goal. Resulting in the Cards not obtaining a wild card in 2016.

If you just look at Matheny’s trend line. That would mean that the Cardinals would be eliminated from wild card contention in August for 2017.

Which is a real possibility.

Mr. DeWitt is taking a real gamble here. If the Cardinals don’t hit the 3 million level in preseason ticket sales and get off to a slow start in 2017. Let’s say, preseason sales drop to 2.5 million level. With Matheny returning and no big named moves this offseason. Not a lot for the fan base to get excited about.

I think half of the fan base will take a wait and see approach. If the Cards have a slow start and the Cubs continue to be the Cubs. The 100,000 drop in attendance that happened this year, could look great compared to 2017 numbers.    

The 32,000 fans Monday thru Thursday, that we saw on the last home stand of the year. Will become the new normal. The weekends will still be at the 40,000 level it is St. Louis after all.     

The Cardinals could see attendance drop from 3.4 million to closer to the 3 million mark. That is a real possibility. That is the gamble Mr. DeWitt has made by bringing Matheny back and announcing that an extension is in the works.

Mr. DeWitt could have minimized this risk, by announcing that no extension would be coming this year. This would have ensured fan interest for 2017. Seeing if Matheny could perform well enough to keep his job.  

If the Cardinals lose another 300,000 in attendance. The Cardinals might have to start making roster moves based upon payroll. Something that they have not had to worry about for over a decade.

That would be a real shame.

But, it could happen.

All because Matheny is a good guy and that is all that matters.

Of course, I could be all wrong about this.

Could be that with the Rams leaving town. Mr DeWitt’s numbers show that corporate dollars will increase. Corporate guys would love Matheny. Combine that with the loyal Cardinal fan base. Mr. DeWitt’s internal numbers might show that 3 million in preseason ticket sales, are no problem.

That would make all this a logical business move. Smart. Except for adding another World Series ring. The only way that could happen with Matheny as the manager. Is if the Cardinals have the talent advantage. That is not the case and it won’t be the case for at least the next three years.

It would also mean that the small portion of the Cardinal Nation that believes for Mr. DeWitt is more interested in making money than winning. Would be correct.

I have never been part of this group. But, I was wrong about Matheny coming back.

Thought after the last couple of years of watching Matheny fail to become a better manager. Mike would have to win the World Series in order to keep his job.

I really believed that. 

Stunned that the Cardinals are talking extension.

It might be all about the money.    

Later.   

    

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

      

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

          

 

TLR’s fate was predictable

In today’s baseball. The organization is everything. It is the most important factor in putting a winning team on the field.

Anyone who thought that TLR was going to turn the D’backs into a serious annual contender, just doesn’t understand how today’s baseball works. This is a classic example of promoting individuals to their highest level of incompetence.

The D’backs organization proudly proclaimed we are old school baseball guys. Screw the numbers. We want guys that are competitors. Came to the predictable end:       

Monday’s brought serious carnage — and probably a substantial amount of paperwork — to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The latest domino to drop involves the organization’s biggest name.

Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa will no longer run the team’s baseball operations, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reports. La Russa’s role in the organization is now unclear, but the new general manager will lead the franchise’s baseball operations, per Heyman.

This seems to signal a parting of ways between the two high-profile parties, and Heyman reports the former A’s and Cardinals manager is contemplating whether or not to stay with the D-backs at all. Owner Ken Kendrick and La Russa talked for more than three hours today after the events that led to the dismissals of GM Dave Stewart, manager Chip Hale and VP DeJon Watson.

Team president and CEO Derrick Hall said the new person atop the team’s decision-making hierarchy will be expected to emphasize analytics more. La Russa did not fit that bill and may be set to depart the organization that hired him initially in 2014 in advance of the 2015 season, one that saw the D-backs make a 15-game improvement to 79 wins.

That good fortune did not carry over into 2016, with the team regressing to a 69-93 mark — good enough for fourth place in the NL West. La Russa and Stewart encountered plenty of injuries — A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and Zack Greinke, to name three key players — but saw a scrutinized-at-the-time trade of 2015 No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson lead to trouble after the return, Shelby Miller, infamously bombed in his Arizona debut.

So, the team will be starting over despite giving La Russa, Stewart and Co. just two seasons. La Russa, though, is the only one who appears to have been given a chance to stay.

Source: Tony La Russa No Longer To Run Diamondbacks’ Baseball Operations

Dave Stewart added these comments:

Dave Stewart harbors no hard feelings toward the Arizona Diamondbacks, who fired him Monday following two disappointing seasons as general manager.

In fact, he feels they did him a favor.

“They may think I’m going to blast people, but I’m not,’’ Stewart told USA Today Sports shortly after the Diamondbacks announced their decision to clean house, including the firing of manager Chip Hale. “It is what it is. It’s that side of the business. To be honest with you, I’m kind of relieved.

“Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do.’’

Stewart, hired by chief baseball officer Tony La Russa in 2014, oversaw a pair of sub-.500 finishes that bookended an offseason in which the club spent $218.75 million on Zack Greinke and Tyler Clippard and traded away their first overall draft pick for Shelby Miller, who played more than a month of the season in Triple-A.

Attendance plummeted to all-time lows during the 69-93 season, good for fourth NL West.

In a statement, Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick admitted “the results have not been what we had hoped” and wished Stewart well.

Stewart, who ran an agent business before taking the job in Arizona, said personalities clashed in the front office, but he’s not leaving with a bad taste in his mouth like when he was passed over for a promotion to GM while with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001.

Via: Dave Stewart relieved to be fired by the Diamondbacks

That is definitely old school. 

I was never surprised that TLR was not a part of the Cardinals organization, after he retired from managing. It just wasn’t a good fit. La Russa was part of the Walt Jocketty faction. I remember reading that TLR and Duncan during their tenure with the Cardinals, had wanted more control, over the minor league system.

This was during the time that when Ron Gardenhire got control of the Twins and was getting into the postseason on a regular basis. It didn’t last long. Mr. DeWitt chose wisely not allowing TLR more authority. Stay within your lane. A team approach is the only way an organization can ensure longevity. 

The D’backs should have notice that. Would have saved them the next five years of not being competitive. The D’backs are doomed. Ken Kendrick has been remarkable in not understanding the limitations of their market and putting the wrong guy in charge. I recall that when TLR first arrived in Arizona someone put up a post showing that if the D’backs had just held on to the guys they had drafted, they would have had a top 10 team by WAR. Evidently, no one paid attention to that.

Today’s game, is governed by layers of an organizational philosophy, an operating process, a centralized brain making decisions. Based upon information and data. It’s not about 1 or 2 individuals determining a clubs future. It is a process of decision-making.

The Cardinals have this in the front office and the Cardinal system. And it works. The Cardinals do have an identity. It’s called the Cardinal way. The D’backs just made their 3rd front office change in 6 years. A total mess.

This is important, because Mo could make some trades this offseason. Everyone knows that this offseason will be the year of the trades. Due to the lack of quality free agents. Don’t follow the TLR method. Don’t trade prospects.

There will be no trade, that Mozeliak can make that will turn the Cardinals into a contender with the Cubs for 2017. So don’t try to. The Cardinals are probably 2 years away from that.

Plus, with the decision to keep Matheny. The only member of the Cardinals, that has no decision-making process and has never been on the same page as the rest of the organization. The Cardinals are certainly not competing with the Cubs next season.

On MLB Now they ask the question has the making the wild card been devalued. This in response to the Yankees and the Pirates selling when they were in contention. I think they missed the point. They were both thinking long-term not short-term. Combining that with making an honest assessment of winning in the postseason.

The Cardinals are in a similar position this offseason. Mo should think long-term. Last offseason, Mo tried to buy the Cardinals back into contention. Failed. Thankfully. The only damage being Leake’s $80MM. Leake wants to play in Arizona. Maybe the D’backs would be willing to trade bad contract for bad contract. Something to think about. Let’s not do something stupid, again this offseason.

If there is a good deal to be had, take it. If not, do nothing and wait till next year’s trade deadline to make a deal. Bringing back the 2016 team basically would not be the worst thing in the world. Still would be in contention for a wild card. Due to the other wild card contenders will also have issues to overcome.

The reality of this offseason is that there will be only be a few teams that have to make some kind of moves. Unlike in previous seasons there is no new team going into full rebuild mode.

What you probable will have are teams like the Royals, White Sox and Rays looking to move one or two contracts, just to save some cash. Then you will probably will have the Twins, Braves and D’backs looking to add 2 or 3 major league veterans, to show their fan base that they are trying to compete in 2017.

The other thing to keep an eye on is will some of the bottom feeder teams move their franchise player. Think Braun, Votto, Trout, Sale and McCutchen. I doubt if anything will happen. The cost in prospects would be high. But, it could.

Every team will be looking for starting pitching. The Cards might be able to score a good deal in this area. We do on paper, have a surplus.             

 Mo gave an interview to Bernie Miklasz. This means, that one of my out of the blue theories, trying to rationalize the retention of Matheny. That Mozeliak was moving on to another team, won’t happen. No reason for Mozeliak to be doing press, if Mo was leaving.

The most interesting part of the interview, was Brandon Moss and Jaime Garcia situations are yet to be determined. Matt Carpenter should play one position next year. Kolten Wong should start more. Randal Grichuk might start in left field in 2017. Cards are in the market for center fielder.

I’m still trying to figure out why Matheny is returning in 2017. Mo continues to talk like a GM, that has a plan, to keep the team competitive except when it comes to Matheny. Refusing to acknowledge what everyone is seeing during the games. Preferring to simply look at the fact, that the club has been in contention each year under Matheny.

We always complain that Matheny does not manage what is actually happening on the field. It appears that Mozeliak suffers from the same abnormality. This is a mistake. Don’t understand it. Never will.

Just like it was inevitable that TLR’s old school approach, would fail in Arizona. The same fate will happen to Mike Matheny. Why Matheny is getting one more year to demonstrate that he will never be a good in-game manager and will favor the veteran players just make no sense.

I seem to recall that over the last few years, the Cardinals preseason ticket sales reach the 3MM mark. I realize the Cardinal fan base is very loyal. But, I’ll be shocked if the Cardinals come close to that number. Thinking most fans will take a wait and see approach. Maybe, it is all about the money.

I always thought that Mozeliak was a top 5 GM. An honest assessment would no longer have Mo in the top 5. Still in the top 10. However, the attempt to resign Heyward. The overpay on the Mike Leake contract. Not being able to keep up with the Cubs. And the retention of Matheny. You can no longer keep Mo in the top 5. Just saying.

I do find it interesting that Brian Kenny of MLB Now, no longer refers to the Cardinals when talking about progressive, free thinking front offices. Used to refer to the Cardinals often, a couple years back. The reason for this, not seeing it between the lines on the field. This is due to Matheny. This is a problem.

My hope is that Mo will not try to make something happen, this offseason. In an attempt to catch the Cubs. No trade is going to keep the Cardinals, within 10 games of the Cubs in 2017. You ensured that reality with Matheny returning in 2017.

The move the Cardinals have to make this offseason. Is to find a native Spanish speaker to add to the coaching staff. Maybe 2. Oquendo is going to stay in Jupiter. I believe that the Spanish speaking part of the Cardinals no longer listen to Matheny. Cards can’t go another season without native Spanish speaking coaches.

I would fire Mabry. Not because Mabry is terrible. Just to send the message that things have got to change in 2017. It would be a power play. I would do it just to show Matheny who is the boss. Last chance kind of thing.       

The best shot the Cardinals have is to make 2/3 smaller deals in the offseason and wait until the 2017 trade deadline, to maybe score a game changing deal, by trading some of the clubs bench and pitching depth. 

In case you missed it. On Baseball Tonight, when discussing Buck Showalter not bringing in Zach Britton in extra innings. Karl Ravech actually said this is not Mike Matheny here. LOL.  

Later.       

 

       

  

   

   

 

 

What I believe-the 2016 season

 

2016 season is over:

With the Giants winning 5 out of their last 6 games, the 2016 season comes quietly to an end. Think the Dodgers will live to regret this. It is an even year. Bochy in the postseason. Big mistake.

It would have been nice to make the postseason for the 6th year in a row. But it would have been just for show. Even the most die-hard Cardinal fan, were not expecting a run to the World Series title. 

Bleacher Report provides the summary of the 2016 season:

The St. Louis Cardinals were baseball’s best team during the 2015 regular season, piling up 100 wins on the strength of the league’s best pitching staff.

This year, they were left watching helplessly on the final day of the season as the San Francisco Giants extinguished their playoff hopes by clinching the No. 2 wild-card spot with a win.

Their stable of arms was historically good last season, posting a 2.94 team ERA and a 2.99 starters’ ERA to help carry a solid, if not unspectacular, offense that averaged 3.99 runs per game.

In 2016, the offensive attack was improved, as the Cardinals led the NL in home runs with 224 and upped their run production to 4.81 runs per game.

However, the pitching staff fell to 12th in the league with a 4.08 team ERA, and the starting rotation dropped to 14th with a 4.33 ERA.

Carlos Martinez performed well in the role of staff ace, but the rest of the team’s starters were largely inconsistent to the point that the rookie tandem of Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver was leaned on heavily down the stretch.

Disappointing seasons from what were thought to be up-and-coming stars in Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk also qualify as negatives this season, though both players still have a chance to reach their full potential in the years to come.

For a team that has been able to author such impressive sustained success with 12 playoff appearances in the past 16 years, expectations for the Cardinals are a bit different than a lot of other teams.

Going from the best record in baseball to watching from home as the postseason begins is enough to earn them a spot among the season’s biggest losers.

Via: Loser: St. Louis Cardinals

The best part of the weekend was the Matt Holliday send-off. No surprise that Mo said the chance of Holliday coming back was low. Unfortunately, with Mike coming back, no way Holliday can come back on a 1 year deal. Due to Mike would start Matt in left field and hit him 3rd in the lineup. Once, again Matheny failing to take the big picture into his decision-making process. Causing a negative outcome for the player. See Craig.

With Mike Matheny coming back for 2017. Next season should be a replay of the 2016 season. With the Cardinals contending for a wild card. The division will be out of reach with the Cubs most likely finishing in the 93-103 level.

John Mozeliak has always made the point that his goal every year is to put a competitive team on the field. Last offseason Mozeliak tried to keep pace with the Cubs by trying to resign Heyward and attempting to sign Price. 

Heyward would have been a franchise killing deal. See Votto. Price might have been a difference maker for 2016. I’m still hoping for a leaked Cardinal memo, that reveals that the Cardinals knew Heyward was not resigning with the club and simply drove up the price for the Cubs. It would make me feel much better about Mozeliak’s decision-making going forward. Long-term high dollar free agent deals are never a good idea. Never.

Hopefully, Mo has learned his lesson.

The Cardinals just have to define a competitive team for the next couple of years, as a wild card team. Forget, about winning the division. Mozeliak with his 20 international signings and a loaded low minor league system. Just needs time for everyone to mature. Couple of years should do it.

Hold on to the prospects. Patience is key this offseason.

Mozeliak needs to find an above average young 3rd baseman. That is the biggest need this off-season. Might just make everything fall into place. A leadoff center fielder, that can hit for a high average, would also be a good thing.

It will be interesting to see if Mo puts a QO on Brandon Moss and picks up Jamie Garcia option. If Brandon is serious about staying in St. Louis. Mozeliak might be able to sign Brandon on a 2 year deal for somewhere around $20MM. That would not be the end of the world. No way I would go 3/4 years. Let someone else make that mistake. Brandon showed in September, why he should not be viewed as an everyday player.

Jaime Garcia is a more interesting case. No way Jaime should come back. But a left-handed starter for $12MM does have trade value. Think Mo will pick up the option.

With a weak free agent market, look for clubs to do a lot of trades in the off-season. It will be all about who can make a game changing deal. My only hope is that Mozeliak can accomplish this without trading prospects. Never give up the future for a short-term fix. Not the modern game.

Still have no idea why Mr. DeWitt, decided to come out and declare that Matheny was coming back in 2017. Still expecting another shoe to drop. Something that will make it all clear.

I believe that the 2016 Cardinals should have made the wild card. Based upon the other teams that were contending for a wild card. All had significant issues. Just like the Cardinals.

I believe the reason the Cardinals failed, even with the bad starting pitching, was Matheny.

I believe that Matheny should have won at least 1 World Series title over the last 5 years. Evidently, Mozeliak and DeWitt do not hold that view.

I believe the Cardinals should bring in a new manager for 2017.

I believe that Matheny will never be a good in-game manager.

I believe Matheny creates more problems than he solves.

I believe that Matheny’s old school approach, is not a good fit for the Cardinals youth growth and development analytics based front office. 

I believe as long as Matheny is the manager, the Cardinals have no chance of winning a World Series.

I believe that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon are the best management team in all of baseball.

I believe that until that fact changes, the Cardinals will be playing for a wild card for the postseason.    

That is what I believe.

But, I had the Cubs pitching failing in the second half of the 2016 season. Heyward would drag down the entire offense. Thought the Cards would be much better in the second half and the Cubs, Cards and Pirates would all make the postseason. With the Mets and the Dodgers winning their divisions.

So what do I know? 

I will be paying attention to the postseason. My hope is that the Cubs fail along the way to world domination. A world were the Cubs are World Series Champs, could bring about the ends of days scenario. Think Book of Eli world. 

Maybe the Cardinals failing to make the postseason is all due to the baseball gods choosing to sacrifice the Cardinals, so that Bochy can defeat the evil, that is the Chicago Cubs fandom.

That would turn a disappointing 2016 season, into the greatest gift to baseball. Would be worth the sacrifice.

For myself, hoping the Cleveland Indians take home the trophy. Who doesn’t like Terry Francona? Now that’s a manager.

Later.

 

    

   

 

  

Why did Mr. DeWitt announce the return of Matheny now?

On the day that the Cards lose 2-1 to the Reds. Not able to bring to Kolten Wong in after a leadoff triple in the 9th. Not a shocker. It is the 2016 season after all. The only good news is that the Giants, also lose 2-0 to the Rox. It really is the battle of the biggest losers.

The best tweet of the night proclaimed just pretend both the Cards and the Giants won. At least then you could get excited about an actual postseason race.  

Jesus Ortiz followed up his tweet and posted the DeWitt interview. Announcing that Mike Matheny will return as the Cardinals manager for 2017.

Nobody in power or authority at Busch Stadium denies that the 2016 season hasn’t panned out quite as well as they had hoped one year after winning 100 games. But one thing appears clear:

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s job is not in jeopardy.

In an exclusive interview with the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said Matheny’s job is safe.“

Mike’s done a really good job for us,” Mr. DeWitt said. “There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”

Matheny, 46, is 457-348 with one National League pennant and four playoff appearances since he became the Cardinals’ manager in 2012. He still has a chance to lead the Cardinals to their sixth consecutive playoff berth and the fifth in a row under his watch.

Although the Cubs ran away with the NL Central crown, the Cardinals (82-75) are only one game behind the Giants for the second and final NL wild-card berth heading into the final five games of the season.

“Mike’s a great leader and he continues to be that,” DeWitt said. “And it just seems to be one of those years where things haven’t worked. That’s the nature of the game. You can’t fault any one of aspect of it. You have your ups and downs in baseball. You have 162 games. Things have a tendency of playing out in different directions.

“I know Mike and his staff, which has done a great job for a number of years here. He’s got a chance to be in the playoffs for five straight seasons as manager. He’s obviously driven to reach that goal, but the way we’ve played on occasion has been disappointing to him as well. You have to stick with it and do your best and hope the season finishes on a strong note. At this point of the season with so few games left and all at home, if we play well the ups and downs you forget about it.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak is also firmly in support of Matheny.

“Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to,” Mozeliak said. “I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.

“I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”

Source: DeWitt says Matheny’s job is secure; Mozeliak adds support | Jesus Ortiz | stltoday.com

MLB Trade Rumors provided the national media summary:

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. says that skipper Mike Matheny will remain at the club’s helm next year, as Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Matheny’s contract runs expires after 2017.

There had been at least some outside questions of Matheny’s status, given the Cards’ somewhat disappointing 82-75 mark with five games left to play. St. Louis is still battling for a Wild Card spot, of course — and the team has already qualified for the postseason in all four prior seasons of Matheny’s tenure — but never really competed this year in an NL Central that has been dominated by the rival Cubs.

“Mike’s done a really good job for us,” said DeWitt. “There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.” The owner went on to explain that Matheny remains “a great leader” who isn’t responsible for what has been “one of those years where things haven’t worked.”

GM John Mozeliak also expressed confidence in the organization’s dugout chief, saying that the 46-year-old Matheny can be unfairly blamed when things don’t go smoothly. “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to,” said Mozeliak. “I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”

It is certainly hard to argue with Matheny’s overall results, though obviously he was entrusted with a talented and veteran-laden ballclub. Still, the former big league backstop has received his share of criticism for in-game management, focused particularly on his use of the bullpen.

Clearly, though, the Cardinals’ top decisionmakers don’t feel that any shortcomings in those areas override Mathany’s track record and overall management of the club. That being said, it’s not clear that any new contract discussions will take place, and Matheny could enter the 2017 season managing for his future in the organization.

Source: Cardinals Expect To Retain Mike Matheny For 2017 – MLB Trade Rumors

Trying to analyze this announcement from an organizational point of view. Which I always do. This makes no sense. Mr. DeWitt is not afraid of making bold moves. See letting Walt Jocketty walk. Hiring Jeff Luhnow. There has to be something the organization is not telling the fan base. There has to be more.

If there is not another shoe to drop. Meaning some other organizational news that would clarify this situation. Cardinal Nation will have to conclude that Mr. Dewitt is simply satisfied with the Cardinals putting a competitive team on the field.

Choosing to ignore the fact that only 36,000 fans showed up last night at the ballpark. Clearly the fans in the St. Louis area that had not already purchased tickets, don’t feel the Cardinals will have any success in the postseason race.

If Mr. DeWitt is evaluating the situation from a big picture perspective. The Cardinals are a competitive club. At least for the wild card. Has averaged 40,000 fans this season. Matheny does have his supporters. So it’s all good.

This is definitely would be a move based on the assumption, that the portion of the fan base that enjoys watching the Cardinal games, based upon the in-game strategy. The chess match of the National League game.  Will not become disenchanted in the fact that Matheny is returning. And will continue to watch. I think that is a big assumption.

When the Cards reached the 100 win season in 2015. I was not excited about the postseason. Anyone who watched the team knew that Matheny had burned the team out. The strength of the team, pitching was out of gas. The season ended with a whimper.

However, I was very interested in what Mozeliak would do in the offseason. I paid close attention. I did expect Matheny to return. I believed that Matheny would finally change his methods. By the end of April it was clear Matheny was not going to make any adjustment.

I rarely make it to the end of a game. Because there is no point in watching. Matheny is not going to make a move, that brings about a victory. Matheny relies on the veteran players to grind out a win. Not very interesting to watch. Waiting for a Cardinal to hit a home run is not exactly a chess match.  Just saying.  

Mr. DeWitt in announcing Mike’s continued employment, stress his leadership. John Mozeliak in his statement did not praise Matheny. Simple pointed out that Matheny is not totally responsible. A clear difference. 

Is Mozeliak and DeWitt on the same page? Is Mr. DeWitt the one who is still sticking with his hire a good man and let him do his job mantra. Matheny is clearly one of the good guys. However, Mike is a terrible in-game manager. Matheny’s veteran bias is definitely not in step with Mozeliak’s growth and development organizational structure.

If it is Mr. DeWitt the one who is retaining Matheny. Because, it is riskier to make a change and why rock the boat? The organization is the most profitable in all of baseball.

If Mozeliak in favor of making a change and Mr. DeWitt decided to maintain the status quo. If that is the case, it would be a huge mistake.

I just don’t believe that. I don’t. Mr. DeWitt has proven to be one of the best owners in baseball. Not afraid of making the big decision. To put the Cardinals on the right path. I just find it hard to believe that Mr. DeWitt, would take the print money approach.

Mr. Dewitt has done a remarkable job at putting the organization on the right path. Then having the patience to let the results take hold. Letting Matheny finishing out his contract, is not the right path kind of move.

There has to be something more.

Time for the out of left field theories.

  1. Mozeliak is going to get a promotion as the President of Baseball operations. Mr. Dewitt will give another GM, the opportunity to make Matheny, into a good in-game manager. And to get with the organization’s youth movement. 
  2. Mozeliak is going to take over as the President of Baseball for the Rockies. This all comes from a Derrick Goold random post a few months back, about Mozeliak’s love for Colorado and Mozeliak replying that he is happy in St. Louis. It was one of those reporter post when you are hearing rumors. But, no one is going on the record to say that the Mozeliak, is considering a job with the Rockies.
  3. Mr. DeWitt is getting ready to cash out his ownership of the Cardinals. Most people ignored the fact that the Cardinals, sold the Memphis Redbirds, to Peter Freund of Trinity Baseball Holdings. Freund is a billionaire type that has a 1% stake in the Yankees. This guy is building a resume to obtain a MLB franchise.
  4. Mr. DeWitt will then cash out and be named as one of the principle owners of another MLB franchise. Perhaps his hometown Reds. Or the leader of a new group that will be awarded the Montreal franchise.

I know this is all, way out of left field theories. But, it is the only thing that would explain the retention of Matheny. An organization would not make a change in the manager if changes were coming in the front office. No way you would hamstring a new owner or GM, with a new manager on a 3 year deal. 

It’s all about the timing of Mr. DeWitt’s announcement. It was a preemptive move. Not waiting for the season to play out. Mr. DeWitt made this announcement before there could be an opportunity for a ground swell of fire Matheny movement.

If the Cards fail to make the postseason. or exit the postseason early. The media would have been all over the headline “Is it time to fire Matheny”.

Mr. DeWitt made sure that did not happen. Why? It is a legit question.

Of course, all of this is pure conjecture. It could be that Mr. DeWitt, likes Matheny leadership and is not willing to make a change.

If this is the case. Then Mr. DeWitt just made a major mistake. For a fan like myself letting Matheny return for the 2017. Ensures that I will be less interested in the Cardinals offseason and the 2017 regular season.

Because all the offseason moves, won’t make any difference for the 2017 season. Matheny will not use the new pieces properly. Just like this year.

I will still be a Cardinal fan. Just a less interested one. Because with Mike Matheny returning the games ensures, that they will not be all that interesting. I do believe the Cardinals will be better next year. Will be in the mix for another wild card.

However, bringing back Matheny ensures that the Cards, will not win a World Series. The young players will not be developed. The Cubs have more talent than the Cards. With a better manager. The Dodgers will also move into that category next season. 

There is no chance that Matheny can out manage, this group to victory. And the Cards will not have enough talent, for the players to simply do it on their own. Which they have basically done the first 4 years under Matheny.

I will simply get my baseball fix, by watching MLB tonight. Which I did in 2014 before the youngsters started arriving. I prefer watching the youngsters develop. I find the team much more interesting with the likes of Diaz, Wong, Piscotty, Reyes, Weaver, and Grichuk getting their big league experience.

As compared to seeing if Leake can live up to his contract. Or how many time Moss strikes out, between home runs. They do what they do. I just don’t find it very interesting.

Yeah, I still want to win every game. But, it is what the team will be in the postseason, that keeps me watching on a daily basis. Like John Mozeliak always states. Don’t worry about the team that breaks spring training. Worry about the team in August.  

I don’t think I’m alone on this. If there are not going to be more changes coming for the Cardinals.

I will still be a fan.

Just a less interested one.

Cardinal Nation still has to hope the Giants, will be the biggest loser.

Alex Reyes on the mound tonight. Worth the watch. Hope that the offense shows up.

Go Cards.

Later.

            

 

 

      

               

Did the Cardinals just announce Matheny will be back in 2017?

Yesterday, the greatest moment of the baseball season happened when Dee Gordon hit a home run in the first plate appearance of the first game that the Marlins had after Jose Fernandez died.  He began it by mimicking Fernandez at the plate batting right-handed for the first pitch and then was visibly crying while running the bases.  It’s about as touching and magical as baseball gets.

Tonight we had another one of those moments.  Aledmys Diaz, who returned to the lineup after flying to Florida for a private memorial for his childhood friend, came to the plate with the bases loaded and the Cardinals down 2-1.  He blasted a home run for his first career grand slam.  He got a standing ovation and he came out for a curtain call.  His ‘tip of the cap’ was less for the curtain call and more for Fernandez as he stared straight up in the sky when holding his helmet.  He then retreated in the dugout, followed by Yadier Molina and a few others, for reasons that you can probably guess.

Source: Diaz hits grand slam in 12-5 win over Reds – Viva El Birdos

Nice moment for Diaz. The Cards get a much-needed victory. The Giants and the Mets also win.

Matt Carpenter also had a home run. Matt’s 20th of the season. Marp become the 107th player in 2016 to hit the 20 home run mark. Last year there were only 64 players in the majors that achieved the 20 homer mark. Something has changed. 

Now for the bad news. John Mozeliak had a little presser. Here is the important quote:

Here are those and some other highlights from the 18-minute discussion:

• On how he evaluates Matheny and the coaching staff as it relates to the season results:

“Mike takes a lot of heat, and I have defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager. I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here. There is nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as we are where we are because of that.”

• On whether his assessment of the season will change depending upon whether the team advanced to the postseason:

“No. I don’t think you can do it that way. I think taking a clinical approach at how this team looks is the only fair way to do that process. I think if you don’t reach the playoffs, you are going to be disappointed. And I think we should be. We felt going into this year that we were going to be extremely competitive. Right now there are still six games left. I’m not ready to write the final chapter. I think we still have time to do that. But ultimately, we understand that people are going to look at us and hold us accountable for what the year was.”

Source: Q & A: Mozeliak reflects on 2016, looks ahead

These statements are coded in organizational speak. Hard to decipher. Not laying all the blame on Matheny for the clubs current state. Which of course, is true. Matheny does not play in the games. A club is only as good as the player’s performance on the field.

Mozeliak did not take the opportunity to lay the issue to rest and declare that Matheny will be back as the manager for 2017.

However, at this moment, it looks like Mozeliak is not laying the groundwork to make a change at manager.   

Also Jose de Jesus Ortiz  tweeted out that he had spoken to Mr. DeWitt and that Mike Matheny was safe. 

So, is that it? Did Mozeliak and DeWitt just tell Cardinal Nation that nothing is going to change for 2017?

From an organizational point of view, in my opinion, there can be only one reason for Matheny to come back and manage in 2017. That would be that major changes are coming to the front office. That would be the only way the Cardinals could justify not making a change.

Matheny will be in the last year of his contract. If major changes are coming to the front office. The smart play would be to keep Matheny, until the new front office has time to make adjusts. And make their own determination of Matheny’s abilities.

The attendance at last night’s game was slightly smaller than Monday’s streak breaking figure. 34,286 paid to see the game.

If I’m all wrong about this and the status quo is maintained for the 2017 season. It will be the first major blunder by the DeWitt’s in the handling of the Cardinal franchise. No other way to say it.

The Cardinals only need to take a look at the Nationals and the Indians. They have led their divisions most of the season. The Indians are still drawing less than 20,000 per night. The Nationals are running under 2015 attendance. It’s all about fan perception.

Are things getting better? Is there optimism going forward.

I can only speak for myself. But, if Matheny returns and nothing else changes. It will affect my level of interest in the Cardinals for 2017. I will always be a fan. But, the reality of the 2016 season is that watching the games was an exercise in frustration.

Take away the home runs and this team failed to perform in basically all other areas of baseball. The Cardinals did not play good baseball in 2016. If there a no changes made. There will be no reasonable expectation of improvement.

I have no desire to experience that again.

For the Cardinal organization, reality is staring you in the face. The Cardinals are 1 game out of the wild card on September 28th. Only 34,000 showed up at the ballpark to root the team on to October.

If changes are not made. The clubs average attendance for next season will be closer to the 30,000 level than the 40,000 level.

Underestimating, the baseball I.Q. of your fan base, is a mistake that a lot of franchises make. There may be some good reasons to bring Mike back. But, those do not outweigh the fact that Matheny is a terrible in-game manager and makes decisions that hold this team back from getting better.  

If the Cards don’t make any changes in the organization. That part of the Cardinal Nation that firmly believes that Mr. DeWitt is only interested in printing money, will gain a lot of new followers.

That would be a shame.

Mike Leake gets the ball tonight. Hopefully, now that Mike is returning as manager for 2017, he will start acting like one. Putting a team on the field that can actually catch the ball, behind Leake, would be a good start.

Go Cards.

Later.

   

     

 

 

 

It’s all about the numbers

Jaime Garcia’s return to the starting lineup went as expected. The result was a 15-2 loss to the Reds. It was a big game. Jamie doesn’t do pressure. Everyone knows this to be true. Except Mike Matheny.

It’s all about the numbers:

Knowing they were beginning the final seven games of the season with a playoff spot at stake, the Cardinals went out Monday night and played their worst game of the year.

Jaime Garcia gave up two home runs in the first inning, and he got no relief help from Michael Wacha or Luke Weaver in the rout by the Reds at Busch Stadium.

The 15 runs and 22 hits were both the most the Cardinals have allowed in a game this season.

“That wasn’t good,” said manager Mike Matheny. “That wasn’t what we were looking for.”

The game began with the Cardinals already aware that the Mets, who lead the wild-card race, were losing 6-0 to the emotionally fired up Marlins in Miami. Instead of jumping on that opening, however, the Cardinals found themselves down 10-0 before they could get through the fourth inning against the 90-loss Reds.

The Cardinals remained 1 ½ games behind the Mets and now trail the Giants, who had the night off, by 1 game with six games left in the regular season.

Via: Game report

The most important numbers:

Cardinal fans are running out of patience with this team, it would seem. The team drew 34,942 fans tonight, snapping a streak of 240 straight games of at least 40,000 in attendance. It was the smallest crowd, in other words, since 2013.

Source: Cards fans running out of patience

FiveThirtyEight ran its projections and have the Giants and the Cardinals finishing the year with 85 wins. The Giants have a 64% of reaching the postseason. The Cards have a 48% chance of making the postseason. More importantly, the Cards have a 1% chance of winning the World Series.
Source: projects

That is what Cardinal Nation fans are reacting to. Even if the Cards make the postseason. No one has any expectation that the Cardinals will be able to pull off any surprising run to the series.

  • That is why the attendance streak came to an end. 
  • I did find it interesting, that after the game Derek Lilliquist said he was not happy with Jaime Garcia’s choice of a four seam fastball, to Votto and Duvall that resulted in home runs.  
  • Jamie evidently ignoring the game plan. Not surprised. It has been my opinion that the team has been ignoring Matheny and the coaches for some time now. Players taking matters into their own hands. As a result of Matheny not making moves, that the players think will give them a positive result.
  • Mozeliak set this team up as a platoon team. That requires the manager to put the players in the best position to each game to succeed. To be flexible on a game to game basis. To let the numbers help make the decisions. Matheny has not done this. Due to his own agendas, that are not based upon organizational goals.
  • Matheny favors players that reflect his values. Ignoring any short-term trends in favor of support and loyalty. Matheny is a grind it out guy. Matheny is still managing like he wanted to be managed. Not managing to what the individual player and the team needs. Not the modern game.
  • What is amazing is that Matheny, is still the same manager he was during his first year. The lack of growth in Mike’s abilities is an indicator, that Mike does not use information, to make adjustments in his managing behavior. Not the modern game. 
  • The attendance of 34,942 is a big deal. It all about fan perception. Most of Cardinal Nation no longer has the belief, that the club has a competitive future. At least for the remainder of the this season.
  • If you think Mr. DeWitt and John Mozeliak have not been seeing what the fan base is seeing, you are wrong. I don’t know much about baseball. But, spent an entire work lifetime evaluating managers and organizational structure. All with the goal of coming up with solutions to bring about positive results on a short-term and long-term basis.
  • In my humble opinion, Matheny is the problem and has been a problem for the last couple years. From an organizational point of view. I would conclude that Matheny should have won at least one WS during his tenure. That did not happen. Can’t go back.
  • However, it does affect how the organization will evaluate Matheny’s future with the club. It just can’t be ignored. I never believed that from an organizational standpoint, the Cards would make a change in management, over the last four years. It would have made no sense.
  • This does not mean that the problem and issues with Matheny’s  management was not seen and addressed. They have. Mike just failed to make an adjustment. Now it comes time for the repercussions of not making those adjustments.
  • It just the way business works.
  • Mike has put himself in this position. It’s not all Matheny fault. I believe Mozeliak gave Matheny way too much authority during his first couple years. I doubt if Mozeliak said no you can’t do that during Mike’s first couple years. That was a mistake.
  • In my work life, I frequently said no you can’t do that to inexperienced managers. It usually took 3 years to stop saying that. Then you back away and give more freedom to see if they can actually produce a good result. If the results don’t happen. Then you start the termination process.
  • I think Mozeliak has done just that this season. Matheny has not delivered.
  • The fans know this. John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt also know this.
  • I am in favor of having Mike Shildt take over next year as manager. I want an organizational guy in place. Shildt has risen quickly within the organization. The modern game is all about a team approach to managing a club. Shildt obviously has a good working relationship with Mozeliak.
  • That will be the key for the next couple years. The Cardinals will have to compete with the Cubs with less talent. Shildt will have to find a way to do that and develop a lot of young players. Something Matheny never did.    
  • With the Cards losing last night. The Cards must go 4-2 over the next 6 games. If the Giants go 3-3. In order to reach the 85 win total and obtain a tie for the last wild card. 
  • With the way the team is playing, that will be hard to accomplish. Think the Cardinal Nation still has to hope the Giants go 2-4 or 1-5.
Just saying.
Go Cards.
Later.