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Mike Shildt Fired as Cardinals Manager After 3-Plus Seasons

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVOctober 14, 2021

Harry How/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals have fired manager Mike Shildt.

"We have determined we have a philosophical difference in the direction our major league club is going," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters Thursday.

The move comes as a surprise since the Cardinals won 90 games and snagged one of the National League's two wild-card spots with a seven-game cushion on the next-closest team, the Cincinnati Reds.

Mozeliak provided little in the way of specifics as to the divide that suddenly emerged between Shildt and the front office:

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

Mozeliak said the situation with Shildt was "something that just popped up recently." Doesn't seem as though this was something that had been festering throughout the season. The two sides had held no discussions about an extension.

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

Asked why he couldn't simply tell Shildt that the front office philosophy was the one that needed to be followed, Mozeliak said, "I could tell you to jump out of your car right now and you may choose not to."

He added that he's "not really prepared to answer" whether the Cardinals will promote from within or cast a wider net in their managerial search. 

Shildt was St. Louis' third-base coach and bench coach prior to replacing Mike Matheny midway through the 2018 season. Matheny spent five seasons with the team as a player and worked within the organization for a few years before getting promoted to manager.

Given the success the Cardinals enjoyed under Shildt, fans may be asking for more context behind the "philosophical difference."

St. Louis was a playoff team in each of his three full seasons at the helm and had a .559 winning percentage. He also oversaw a 17-game winning streak down the stretch that catapulted the Cards into the postseason.

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Dayn Perry @daynperry

At what point is this a front office issue for the Cardinals? They hired a largely incompetent manager during the team's peak and then hired a (mostly) competent manager but seemingly couldn't persuade him to follow orders?

Managerial changes like this can occasionally signal a forthcoming rebuild or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a desire to attain a higher level than ownership and front office believe they can reach under the current structure.

Nolan Arenado has already said he plans on returning to St. Louis for 2022 rather than opting out of his deal. Adam Wainwright signed a one-year extension, and Yadier Molina is going to give it one more year before retiring.

The Cardinals aren't going to be tearing their roster down anytime soon, so perhaps Mozeliak had reservations about Shildt's ability to guide the franchise to a World Series in 2022. 

If that was the case, now was the time to pull the trigger because the three-year contract Shildt signed in 2019 was due to expire after next season. Having a lame-duck manager in the dugout likely wouldn't have served anybody's interests.

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