Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt–or in this case, John Mozeliak–before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez. Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site. My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast. It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug. So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!
Manager: Mike Shildt
Overall grade: B
Overview: It’s hard to rag on a guy that won the NL Manager of the Year award too much, though as we know Mike Shildt knows more than we do but that doesn’t mean he knows everything. He seemed to fall into a few of the same issues that Mike Matheny had, whether it was sticking with a veteran too long or having players that seemed to get preference on playing time. Some of his decisions in the postseason were head scratchers and we’ll never understand leaving in Adam Wainwright back in June against the Cubs with the game on the line (and thankfully Kolten Wong was behind him).
For the most part, though, those are minor flaws. Shildt came in and said he wanted to clean up the defense and baserunning. While errors aren’t a great measure, the Cards went from most in 2018 to fewest in 2019. Six of the Cardinal starters were nominees for the Gold Glove and a lot less boneheaded, “what are they doing” comments came from the fanbase. While they weren’t completely wiped out, TOOTBLANs were definitely reduced and we saw the stolen base be a legitimate part of the Cardinal arsenal. St. Louis tied with the Nationals for the most stolen bases in the National League and third overall in baseball. The offense struggled–and while this is a grade for Shildt, looking at his staff, especially Jeff Albert, is part of the deal–and we’ll see if that was because of such a severe philosophy shift or if Albert isn’t quite the answer the club thought he was. Still, the team made it to the playoffs and that’s in large part due to the change in managers.
Also, the clubhouse seems fairly content. Even when players like Lane Thomas were riding the bench and seeing infielders like Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz get outfield time, there didn’t seem to be any real complaints. No crazy Instagram stuff from Yadier Molina. Kolten Wong obviously has been thriving with Shildt in charge. We saw Dexter Fowler had Shildt over for dinner to celebrate his MOY award. While a harmonious clubhouse isn’t necessary for a winning team, it surely doesn’t hurt to have people happy to go to work every day.
Outlook: Unsurprisingly, Shildt got an extension after the season was over, meaning that he should be around for a while. Granted, manager contracts are barely worth the paper they are written on, but an organization that has had five regular managers since 1980 isn’t likely to cut Shildt based on a rough start to 2020. Shildt feels like a very good fit for this organization and should be at the helm for a good many years to come.