In a surprising move, the St. Louis Cardinals have hired Mike Matheny to replace Tony La Russa.
The pressure is on to keep free agent Albert Pujols in town, and Matheny is the best man for the job. Matheny, 41, went to the playoffs four times in five seasons as a catcher for the Red Birds. He was around for the infancy of Pujols’ career and was a veteran voice in the clubhouse from 2000-2004.
Most people assumed this was former Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s job to lose. He had expressed interest in the position and went to St. Louis for an interview as well.
They should have gone with Francona if they were looking for the most experienced manager. He has been managing in the majors for the last seven seasons. He has won two World Series, has 1029 wins, and holds a .529 winning percentage.
But the Cardinals are not your average team. They just won a World Series...they don’t need a veteran manager. They need a guy that can convince Pujols to stay.
Matheny is the better man when you put that into consideration. At this point, it has to be the most important aspect of the new gig. That’s why management overlooked the fact he has no managerial experience and was only a minor league instructor before getting the huge promotion.
In all, the Cardinals interviewed six different people for the job. The others were Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, Class AAA manager Chris Maloney and White Sox coach Joe McEwing.
With the process of getting Pujols fully underway, this is going to backfire in a big way if he decides to go with the Miami Marlins or another team.
More than anything else, this is an “all in” move to get Pujols. Can’t disagree with that.