The St. Louis Cardinals have made an excellent decision in hiring former catcher Mike Matheny as their next manager. Matheny is a "take-charge guy" that is universally respected.
Catchers Connie Mack (1910-11. 1913, 1929-30), Joe Torre (1996-2000), Ralph Houk (1961-62), Joe Girardi (2009), Bruce Bochy (2010), Bob Brenly (2001) and Mickey Cochrane (1935) have all managed World Series winners.
Matheny is taking over the current World Champion.
He played for the Cardinals from 2000-04 and was one of the team leaders. During those years, he developed a close relationship with both Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. The latter has one year left on his contract and is expected to return.
The St. Louis Cardinals will continue to have baseball's best pitching coach who was—yes, a catcher.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed that La Russa once said that Matheny was the only major leaguer he would let one of his daughters marry.
Bill DeWitt Jr. and John Mozeliak are banking on Matheny's potential rather than obsessing about his lack of managerial experience, which is not without precedent.
Ralph Houk led the New York Yankees to consecutive World Championships his first two years as their manager in 1961 and 1962. Only Sandy Koufax could stop him in 1963.
New managers are under great scrutiny, but the fact that Matheny has never managed at any level and the Cardinals are the defending World Champions will magnify it. The fact that the team floundered until September is in Matheny's favor.
If miracles occurred often, they wouldn't be called miracles.
The 40-year-old Matheny was a roving minor league instructor in the Cardinals' organization last season. He also worked in the broadcast booth. Can anyone say, "Joe Torre or Bob Brenly?"
Matheny knows the players and the veterans support him. Of equal significance is the fact that he is familiar with the organization, the fans and the farm system.
Matheny knows what he is getting into. He realizes that he will be confronted by cynicism, skepticism and criticism.
He will be up to the task.
"Measuring Matheny Gambling on potential could pay off for Cardinals." St Louis Post-Dispatch [MO] 10 Nov. 2011: C1. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.