Exit Interview 2021: Mike Shildt

As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning.  Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (or, here, the GM office which is hitting a little close to reality) on their way home for the winter for a performance review.  Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season.  As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!

Manager: Mike Shildt

Grade: B

Overview: Obviously whatever else might be written about Mike Shildt’s 2021, it has to start with the fact that he’s no longer the manager.  In a stunning move right after the season, he was relieved of his duties after “philosophical differences” arose between him and the front office.  We’ve speculated at times what those differences are and how severe they had to be to push a normally slow moving front office to do something this quickly, but we may never really know.  I thought it might be one of those winter pieces that reporters, probably someone like Ken Rosenthal, would write before spring training started, but with the lockout and the club being unable to talk to the media, that seems less likely.  (Plus there are more pressing things, like, um, the lockout.)

Overall, though, the front office was not disappointed in Shildt’s season.  The club needed the record winning streak to lock up a playoff spot but things had turned around significantly even before that.  If they had won 2-3 more games in their terrible June, they would have been at the top of the wild card race or very close even before they went streaking.  Shildt should get a lot of credit for keeping the team focused and working together.  In his tenure, we never heard about people complaining in the clubhouse or really saw any tension, which is the biggest part of managing these days, it seems like.

That said, Shildt obviously wasn’t perfect.  He saw what he wanted to see in Alex Reyes, for instance, most notably by bringing him in to throw the last pitch of the season.  It took much longer than it should have to get Giovanny Gallegos to be closing.  He tended to overuse the good arms in his bullpen and was slow to make lineup changes.  The fact that he ever removed Tommy Edman from the leadoff spot, even for a few games, is pretty surprising.  Tyler O’Neill should have moved up in the lineup earlier.

The man had his flaws, no doubt.  However, he was a true Cardinals Man, if you will, and to see him removed like this was really stunning.  The club seems to be in good hands with Oli Marmol, thankfully, but this really had to hurt Shildt.

Outlook: It’s going to be strange for him to work in another organization but it seems unlikely that Shildt’s done with baseball.  He interviewed for the San Diego job before Bob Melvin took the job and he’s been connected to the Mets job as well.  I could see him either being a bench coach for someone or getting back into the minors with another organization before he gets a big league managing job.  One way or another, he’ll be back in baseball.

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