In the words of St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, Mike Shildt was “Very shocked” to hear that he had been relieved of his duties as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday morning. So was I. In a very sudden move the St. Louis Cardinals and their manager, Mike Shildt, have parted ways after only three full seasons as manager.
So sudden in fact that the Cardinals filled for permission to make the termination official and a public announcement in such haste, on the same day the NLDS game 5 between the Dodgers and Giants was to happen. A little unusual. The Cardinals just won a franchise-record 17 games in a row in September to catapult themselves into the playoffs, then fired their manager. Just a little unusual. Though according to Mozeliak, there was more to it than wins and losses. “As I said before, 2021 was a real success and something that for all of us that were part of the organization, we take tremendous pride in,” Mozeliak said. “Any time you go on a 17-game winning streak and actually create history for your organization, it’s something you take enormous pride in. A lot of times these decisions aren’t based just on the season, more to the point it’s directionally where we want to go.”
The direction the team wants to go? There had been rumors mid-season that hitting coach Jeff Albert’s seat was warm, but he’s still here. I bring that up because Albert was brought in before the 2019 season to be a part of the Shildt brass and help institute a new hitting philosophy for the organization. Since the start of 2019 we have seen the Cardinals battle heavily inconsistent offensive approaches throughout a season and even seen hitters in St. Louis not have the same success as they did in their previous homes, or just continue to get beat by the same pitches and not adjust.
Tommy Edman stated on June 25th of this season “I don’t think we’ve necessarily done the greatest job of making a game plan for how guys are gonna throw us day by day and working on things pregame,” Edman said, via Bally Sports Midwest. “I think we’re going to start to implement a few more of those things.” YES, that involves the manager and his responsibility of overseeing the coaching staff and the hitting approach. But that is very much directed at the hitting coach and Jeff Albert’s seat was to the public eye, very warm. Yet Albert remains and Shildt is out.
Mozeliak opened the conference by stating “philosophical differences” in the two parties as to the main reason for the severing of ties. “All I can say is where we felt the team was going, we were struggling to get on the same page… With him having one year remaining on his contract, we could have gone into 2022 having that over him and we just decided that internally it would be best to separate now and take a fresh look as we head into a new season.”
Mike Shildt held a record of 255-199 in his 3 1/2 years of managing the Cardinals. He was a player’s manager and brought back strengths of sound defense and aggressive baserunning, two aspects of the game missing from former manager Mike Matheny’s style. Shildt won the 2019 NL Manager of the year in his first full season as manager of the Cardinals. In that season the Birds went from the worst statistical year defensively in 2018 to the best statistically in 2019, the first time in MLB history a team has done that. Following the abrupt departure in the 2019 NLCS at the hands of the Nationals, the Cardinals made the playoffs in each of the following years as well, 2020, and 2021.
I know Mike Shildt on a personal level. We’re both from Charlotte and he has done a great of good for the Charlotte area through Baseball for Life. Mike Shildt is a good manager and will find a new job no problem. There may some questionable pitching moves at times but you can find that with any team really. What you are getting in Shildt is a general that will stand up for his players no matter what, build from the fundamentals, and honestly, win. He did hold a .559 winning percentage in his time with St. Louis. I wish him the best of luck.
The Cardinals seem to be pushing for more of a anaylitical approach to their day to day and in game approach to play. As they move into their search for a new manager, keep that in mind. A few names that i expect to appear are; Ollie Marmol, Joe Espada, and Stubby Clapp.
Firing’s happen all the time in every aspect of life, for various reasons too. At the end of the day, this will serve as a cold reminder that baseball is still a business. Thanks for your patience as I took a week off following the birds exit in the wild card game against the Dodgers. I will return in the upcoming week to talk that over and the 2021 season in a whole. I also hope to return to a more routine posting moving forward unless disclaimed the week before.