When Mike Matheny was fired on July 14th, who did you think would be managing the Cardinals in 2019? Joe Girardi? Stubby Clapp? Mark McGwire?
Those were just a few of the names bandied about in the hours after the managerial change.
But what about Mike Shildt, the man given the interim gig?
Well, at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals gave us the answer, handing Shildt the permanent position, with an additional 2-year contract that extends through 2020.
I, personally, think it was the right move. He is the Cardinals organization. He knows it from top to bottom, and has seen it from many different positions and has vast experience.
Hot Take Alert
Please allow me about 400 words to get a few things off my chest. Then, I’ll give you the “reference guide”.
In the hours that followed the announcement, I saw a lot of interesting takes from national pundits.
These opinions can only be described as uninformed and somewhat short-sighted. (Thus, the inspiration for the following reference guide.)
I saw a number of folks thinking that removing the interim tag is a premature move. That the Cardinals are jumping the gun because of the short-term success after the change. They think that the changes are more likely attributed to changes to the roster than any work of the manager.
I saw another claim that it is unlikely that the best person for the job happened to already be in the dugout and that no other business would make personnel decisions this way.
Outside of the Cardinals organization, Shildt is an unknown. The last month and a half are all that most national writers have seen of him. However, if they were to do their research, they would find that he was far from an unknown within the organization. Even without getting the 2nd half of 2018 to show himself, he would have been as qualified as most of the candidate that the team could have interviewed, more qualified than many.
Shildt has put a unique stamp on this team. His daily meeting are just one example of things that are uniquely Shildt. No other team in baseball is doing that and no other manager would have.
The best way I can describe what John Mozeliak did with Mike Shildt is to call him a coach-in-waiting. If you follow the Blues, you should be familiar with that term. Prior to the 2016-17 season, anticipating that it would be Ken Hitchcock’s final year of coaching, the Blues hired Mike Yeo, explicitly, to be their “coach-in-waiting”. This meant that he would be the head coach for the following season.
When Mozeliak created the position of Quality Control coach simply to get Shildt onto the staff, he was implicitly putting his choice for Matheny’s replacement in place. Mo was anticipating the potential need for a change at some point within the next few years. When ownership was finally willing to end their commitment to Matheny, Mozeliak would have his preferred guy ready to step in.
This was no accident.
And so in light of the pessimistic national takes, I encourage all fans that have not yet done their homework on Shildt to do so. The following references have this Shildt covered, with work dating from 2007 to this week.
Know Your Shildt: A Reference Guide
From the Post-Dispatch:
From the Charlotte Observer:
An Excerpt from Taking Flight: The St. Louis Cardinals and the Building of Baseball’s Best Franchise:
From the Memphis Flyer:
From the Athletic($):
Of course there is also Wikipedia:
I won’t say this is one required, but if you want to check out my piece that followed the managerial change, it is available here: The Next Cardinals Manager? Don’t Sleep on Mike Shildt.
And finally, some Required Listening:
I recommend checking out all of these links. Take the time. Get to know your manager.
An asterisk (*) means I HIGHLY recommend.
The Immediate Success Was A Confirmation
The organization had faith that Shildt was capable of doing this job, and the immediate success confirmed it. They see the things he is doing within the clubhouse and know that this is a sustainable model, even if the current Win-Loss pace is not.
I don’t think the team necessarily had to go on the recent run for him to get the job. I believe the tag would have come off at season’s end, but the Cardinals found themselves in a “why wait?” situation.
For all the reasons provided in the phenomenal reporting above, this was always Mike Shildt’s job to lose.
Thanks for Reading!