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What a catch(er)! Cards name Matheny managerPosted Monday, November 14, 2011, at 11:54 AM
When names first began trickling to the surface following Tony LaRussa'a retirement, of the initial six, Mike Matheny was in my opinion more of a space filler. The idea that he would actually make his managing debut with a team following up on a World Series win seemed quite the stretch. That thought wasn't due at all to a dislike of Matheny the man or the player, but because of his lack of managerial experience.
As things began to progress and others began to look less like legitimate candidates (see Terry Francona), we began to hear whispers about how Matheny really impressed Mozeliak and Dewitt during his interview. To be honest, that shouldn't surprise any of us.
I think of it alot like I think of a Presidential primary race. Early on, we all have our pick, but in the end we all get behind the same guy. That's what will happen here. Everyone who feels Oquendo was shafted will still hope to see Matheny succeed.
Since joining the team in 2000, no one has had a better reputation as being a generally good person, great teammate and friend than catcher Mike Matheny.
While he often struggled at the plate during his tenure with the Cardinals, he more than made up for it behind the plate. Not only while he was catcher, but in the amazing skills he shared with current catcher Yadier Molina.
A four-time Rawlings Gold Glove winning catcher, Matheny has never managed or coached in any capacity, but don't let that scare you off right away.
For some time now, he has served as a special assistant to GM Mozeliak and worked as an instructor during spring training for the team for several seasons. While he hasn't managed in professional baseball, he HAS been involved in the game and with this team.
Three members of the current team still remain from his days as a player: Chris Carpenter, Molina and free agent Albert Pujols(assuming he returns).
In the press conference introducing the manager, he made it clear that while he has learned a lot from other managers, he is here to go his own direction.
"I believe I owe this organization and these gentlemen to be myself," he said. "I'm not here to try and clone Tony, or any of the coaches and managers that I've learned from."
Mozeliak acknowledged that for a long time he has seen Matheny as a possibility for this role when the day came. He said while he was expected to spend some time managing in the minors first, he is confident that Matheny is up to the task. He compared it to the rise of Joe Girardi in the Yankees organization.
Matheny said his career as a catcher gives him good experience with knowing how to approach the game as a manager.
"How a catcher thinks is very similar (to managing) anyhow," he said, noting that it is difficult for him to watch a game only for pleasure because of how he seems to analyze it.
Mozeliak said he hopes to have most of the questions in the coaching staff lined out this week. When questioned about Oquendo he stated that he would like him to return, but first wanted to be sure that he would "buy in" to the new manager.
World Series MVP David Freese commented on multiple social networking websites tonight that he is excited to have Matheny as manager.
"Can I still call Matheny Captain America now that he's my new manager?," Freese posted. "We'll see...Love the hire. STL should be pumped."
Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay also made similar comments. More player reaction can be expected over the next day or so.
Does he have a lot to prove? Yes. Is he capable? If anyone is, Mike Matheny is.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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