Mike Matheny and the St. Louis Cardinals have no doubt enjoyed proving the early-season pundits wrong so far in 2012.
In a fairly dramatic offseason for Cardinals fans, the team lost two future Hall-of-Famers in Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa—three if you count the incomparable Dave Duncan (of course current eligibility guidelines don't allow coaches to be considered for enshrinement...yet).
It's not too early to say the Cardinals appear to have all the makings of a division winner, which flies in the face of roughly 80 percent of "experts" preseason predictions who appeared to favor the Reds and Brewers instead.
In addition, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak must have visited Superman's Bizarro World in the offseason as he decided to peg La Russa's polar opposite as his club's new manager—Mike Matheny—going from a skipper who ranked third in wins all-time (2,728) to one who had zero.
Not just zero experience managing in the majors. Zero managerial experience of any kind: Triple-A, college, McDonald's—none.
The Cardinals are nothing if not the embodiment of an organization that represents professionalism and success, and despite the changing of the managerial guard, the 2012 squad is displaying plenty of both.
Despite leading the majors in run differential, however, the Cards are presenting some challenges for their rookie manager. Here are five issues he'll need to address sooner rather than later.