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Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014

Matheny's First Season Report Card from GM Mozeliak

Posted Monday, September 10, 2012, at 9:44 PM

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's first year at the helm has definitely been a test for him. A test--that's how his general manager John Mozeliak characterized the Cardinals' tumultuous season.

While the season isn't over yet - and if Matheny has his way it won't be for two more months - there is now a big enough sample size to look back and make at least a partial judgment.

At Sunday's blogger event at Busch Stadium, Mozeliak spoke candidly about his take on the new manager in which he invested his club's future.

Given the vast number of injuries throughout the season, he says he's quite impressed with how Matheny has handled all that has been thrown at him.

"I think he's done an amazing job as manager," Mozeliak said. "I think you can count on one hand the kind of moves where you just cringe or where I think you would be surprised someone made."

Matheny, who worked as a special assistant to Mozeliak prior to taking on his new role, is viewed by Mozeliak as the ideal solution to fill an extremely tough spot.

"Going back, we understood that filling in the shoes of Tony LaRussa was not going to be an easy task for anybody," he said. "One of the things we were thinking internally about this decision was 'Who can command the respect of the players? Who would be respected by others in baseball, meaning the other 29 clubs?'"

After several interviews, Mozeliak said the answer became more and more clear to him.

"The more we got down to it we realized this guy could command a room," he said. "His leadership and the way he's carried himself have been superb."

The fact that he feels good so far, doesn't necessarily mean Matheny is anywhere near the point of peaking. What Mozeliak thinks it means is that his new manager has the right tools to learn the job well and make it his own.

"I think he's growing into this job every day," Mozeliak continued. "He's smart. He understands that he didn't have all of the answers on day one and he's really been a sponge. That's a great compliment to him that I think also reflects of his intellect. He's a very bright guy."

It was also made quite clear that Matheny is not viewed as a short term fix -- period.

When Mozeliak and President Bill Dewitt III, who also spoke at the function, were hunting for a replacement for LaRussa, they weren't looking for a band-aid, they were looking for a cure.

"Our decision to go with Mike Matheny was a long term decision in the sense that we were hoping to invest in somebody that was going to be here a long time," Mozeliak said. "I think we're going to have that with him."

The pair knew when they hired a rookie manager with zero management experience that there would be growing pains. Some of the adversity Matheny has faced this season would have been difficult for even the most seasoned manager.

Through it all he has kept his cool as he continues to adapt to his new role. Given the now season - possibly career - loss of Lance Berkman and a late season injury to Jake Westbrook, Matheny will continue to prove himself while under fire.

Mozeliak said he is still confident that Matheny is, and will continue to be, the right man for the job.

"So, my overall takeaway on him is that he has been very impressive," Mozeliak concluded.


Comments
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Did Mo forget the season is not over yet the team is in the middle of a playoff hunt, which they seem to be willing to give away?!

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Mon, Sep 10, 2012, at 10:37 PM

Walt Jocketty was always good at focusing on the current team and making trades at the deadline. Jocketty also hired LaRussa. Mozeliak was fortunate enough to become GM with LaRussa already in place.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 12:29 AM

You're right, Dustin. Mozeliak didn't make any significant trades last year that resulted in the most historic World Series run in history.

-- Posted by Captain Awesome on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 7:10 AM

"most historic World Series run in history."

I think I just channeled my inner Rob Dibble - "We're the world champions of the world!"

-- Posted by Captain Awesome on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 7:14 AM

I agree Mozeliak didn't make any big name trades last year at the deadline. But the made some "minor" moves in the bullpen that saved the season. If he doesn't reshape our bullpen, we don't win the World Series. Remember how dominant our bullpen was during the latter part of the playoffs and WS? Lights out pretty much. I think Jocketty is the best in the business. But Mozeliak has not panicked and made some bad moves with money.

-- Posted by paulm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 11:06 AM

I guess my sarcasm just isn't what it used to be. Last years trades were huge and proof that Mozeliak is a savvy GM.

-- Posted by Captain Awesome on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 11:24 AM

Last year might be the only year Mozeliak made a significant trade at the deadline. Jocketty frequently made big trades and signed veteran players instead of relying on young talent.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 2:10 PM

Anyone think LaRussa will take job in Cincinnati if Baker retires at the end of the season? I've debated if there is much credibility behind these rumors?

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 2:17 PM

Mo did resign Berkman and Furcal and he signed Beltran.

If Carp had not went down before the season the whole season could have been different. KMac goes down which weakened the Pen. Lynn moving to starters role weakened the Pen. Salas, Sanchez, and Scrabble unseemingly fell off the wagon this year. Lynn got dead arm about 2 weeks ago thus weakening the rotation and pen, again. Berkman has only played 30 games (if lucky) and Furcal threw out his arm. I don't think it's Mo's fault the team suffered so many injuries.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 7:14 PM

Seriously though, does any NL team really want to clench that second Wild Card? The Cards and Pitt are out of trying to win the Central Division Championship, Atlanta has virtually clenched the top Wild Card spot, and San Fran will beat the Dodgers for the West. So basically it's a 3 horse race for that 2nd Wild Card and it seems none of the teams are even trying to win the thing.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Tue, Sep 11, 2012, at 11:58 PM

What about Philadelphia and Milwaukee exzalmanian?

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Sep 12, 2012, at 10:10 PM

Yeah, because STL, LA, and PITT have played worse than anyone could have imagined it allowed those teams back in. PHIL and MIL are now also in the hunt. MIL has too many teams to jump, so they are out. Philly has a balanced schedule with games against the Astros and Marlins remaining, but they also host Braves and Nats. They could sneak into the spot, much like the Cards did last year. I honestly do not see STL winning the 2nd Wild Card. Too many injuries have destroyed their chances. Weak bench, weak up the middle (except Jay), weak rotation, and a weak pen. Too much for them to overcome with a rookie manager. Matheny did a decent job considering all of the injuries.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Wed, Sep 12, 2012, at 10:56 PM

A little rant here, but it annoys me that MM keeps throwing Descalso out there at 2B. He is an awful hitter. I would much rather have Skip start because I like his bat and then pull him in the later innings for Descalso because I like his defense. Skip doesn't have terrible defense and and hold his own for the most part, but Descalso seems lost at the plate ever AB.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Tue, Sep 18, 2012, at 9:22 PM

The Cardinals have failed to sign a good 2B more times than not in last 15 years.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 2:41 AM

The last good (true) 2B we signed was Mark Grudzielanek and that was only for 1 year.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 7:43 PM

What second baseman has been available that they could have signed? Plus, second baseman of the future is probably only a year away, maybe less.

-- Posted by 7plus1 on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 8:40 PM

Ahh. I didn't realize you said 15 years, my bad. But I still say the second baseman of the future is very close to the big leagues.

-- Posted by 7plus1 on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 8:41 PM


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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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