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The St. Louis Cardinals managerial search has come to an end, and their new leading man is a former Cards’ catcher, Mike Matheny, according to MLB.com.
Although the hiring might come as a surprise to most baseball fans considering the others who were considered for the job – Terry Francona, Bobby Valentine, Ryne Sandberg, and Jose Oquendo being amongst the list – this cannot come as a complete shock to the Cardinal faithful.
Matheny’s name was occasionally thrown out there when there was speculation concerning who would be the next manager, but it did not seem like a strong possibility given the fact that he has never previously managed in any realm of professional baseball. Matheny was certainly no superstar during his playing career, but was a spring training instructor for the club and also assisted general manager John Mozeliak as a special adviser before being hired.
The move is fairly similar to the one the Chicago White Sox made back in early October when they decided to replace former manager Ozzie Guillen with former White Sox infielder Robin Ventura. Ventura has no managing experience, but also remained within the organization as a consultant for general manager Kenny Williams before being hired.
The choice seems highly questionable and potentially regrettable when evaluating all of the proven talent that was interested in the position. Francona won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox back in 2004 and 2007 as their manager, Valentine led the 2000 New York Mets to the National League Pennant, and Oquendo was part of the Cardinal coaching staff when they won the 2006 and 2011 Word Series.
However, the reputation Matheny has earned as a great baseball mind and an even better man throughout the organization’s ranks during his five years as their catcher and his recent positions with the team influenced Mozeliak to give him his big break. Mozeliak exhibited nothing but confidence in both Matheny and the decision to hire him.
“Today we begin a new chapter in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals and trust the managerial duties to Mike Matheny. His leadership, his passion, his intelligence and his work ethic, all of these assets will lead to his success as manager of the Cardinals,” said Mozeliak.
Matheny is most certainly not the big name that many believed the Cardinals would choose to replace their former manager Tony La Russa, who retired after leading the Cardinals to an improbable World Series title back in October. La Russa also led the Cardinals to their 2006 world championship in his sixteen year run as the team’s skipper.
He won three World Series titles overall during his thirty-three years managing in the major leagues. With all of that being said, Matheny is definitely prepared for the buildup that comes with replacing this true legend in a city that lives for its baseball team.
“I can’t tell [Cardinals fans] how excited I am about this opportunity. I know there is a high level of expectation, a high level of what has been known as the Cardinal way, and I plan to carry through with it,” Matheny said.
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