The curtain call for Mike Matheny
College Contributor Network
#Mathenaging. No it's not Miriam-Webster caliber, but that's not how Twitter works. Throughout the NLDS and NLCS, the hashtag was constantly trending during the games. I can go ahead and personally define the noun as: a boneheaded managerial move that magically (only in October, right?) winds up working out. It's like driving right by the "No More Gas" sign on the freeway and finding a red canister five miles before empty.
Some people see it as a good thing, and I don't blame them. It's Roadrunner escaping Wile E. Coyote every episode. If it works out most of the time, why not stick with it? It did get Mike Matheny and St. Louis to Game 5 of their third-straight NLCS during his tenure...
But the way I see it, #Mathenaging does not finish the job. The Thursday night loss to the Giants now makes it a donut in three chances to slip on the chunky diamond ring in the Matheny era. Let me list the other managers for which that number applies -– oh wait -- every other manager besides Bruce Bochy and John Farrell (technically, even good ole Ned Yost). St. Louis GM John Mozeliak needs to make a managerial change and I'll explain why.
First, let me start by saying that considering the situation Matheny was given on Nov. 18, 2011, he has done a good job. Don't take this article as a wanted poster for Matheny's head. He is a fantastic guy and an integral part of St. Louis history. It was no surprise to me that the former four-time Gold Glove catcher and field general flourished in his first season as a manager. However, if you consistently get the troops to just the foot of the pearly-white gates, then after awhile some turn around and go home.
This isn't me being spoiled. This is me just having high expectations for a 12th World Series title. The Cardinals have missed their Pythagorean record for two years, and that's when you know that something is up with the coaching.
Let's take the most recent NLCS exit for example. The Cardinals were not physically beaten by the Giants, they were beaten mentally by both themselves and the manager sitting in the other dugout -– in every single loss. That's all on the coach.
Even in the last inning of the last NLCS game against the Giants, Matheny puts in Michael Wacha –- uh, what? Mr. Matheny, he hasn't pitched in 20 days. But sure, stick him in there in the highest-pressure situation all season.
Randy "Choke" Choate, who literally threw away Game 3, had four appearances in the series (with only one inning of work to show for it), a 9.00 ERA and a 4.00 WHIP. Maybe try another reliever the next time you trot out to the mound. I could keep going but honestly it would be pointless to continue piling on Matheny's 2014 playoff moves.
Matheny's overarching issues seem to be that he plays off of small sample sizes, doesn't handle the highly-rated prospects correctly, and doesn't truly get the full potential out of the players he has.
You can go down the line from the end of the 2013 season until now to see all the moves Matheny should have made. Don't start Pete Kozma in the 2013 World Series or 2014 NLDS because he has no offensive value, even with decent numbers against Kershaw. Give Peter Bourjos and farm-system prodigy Oscar Taveras time to assimilate into the professional Cardinal lifestyle before completely dumping them.
Matheny infamously commented on his Taveras decision by saying the Cardinals weren't "in the developmental business." Well ok, that's totally fine, but don't then give Daniel Descalso and Mark Ellis extended time and at-bats.
At this point, Matheny is just treading water with this roster. There are now more Cardinals fans disapproving of the coach than approving, and I am one of the former.
I'm tired of the managing that creates a team that fails to correctly foster young talent, fails to handle late-game situations, fails to give playing time to the right guys, and, ultimately, underperforms. The team is worth more, and deserves more, than Matheny.
Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123