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.
- 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.
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.