I really thought Mike Matheny would make a great successor to Dave Duncan one day – following the same route Duncan did, from catcher to successful pitching coach.
Instead, Matheny is now Duncan’s boss.
Following a relatively short search, John Mozeliak found his man. He didn’t have to look far, awarding the job to the guy many believe he’s been grooming for this exact role since Matheny’s retirement from his playing days.
The stories about Matheny’s leadership qualities and lack of managerial experience have already been written, so I won’t replay them here, but I do have opinions on related subjects.
The Secret Weapon had a lot of support among Cardinal fans as the sentimental favorite for the job – but riddle me this – why doesn’t this guy have a manager’s office yet?
In this case, I truly believe Matheny won the job (or was earmarked) rather than Oquendo losing it. But after several interviews with different clubs, here he is – having to decide whether or not to remain on a staff that he wanted to be in charge of. Maybe the Cardinals are just another team unconvinced of Oquendo’s potential ability to be successful as a manager?
Folks, the only way a manager hire was going to determine where Albert Pujols signs would be if the Cards had named DeeDee or AJ manager – or the Mang himself.
Matthew Leach said it best on Twitter yesterday, and I’m paraphrasing – if there is any effect at all, it is slim to none and positive.
Hiring Matheny likely registered as little more than a blip for AP, but I doubt he’s angry about it and running to cash Jeff Loria’s check.
Matheny was asked during his introductory press conference yesterday what his managerial style is or will be. He gave a pretty reasonable answer, as one might expect, about putting together knowledge he’d gleaned from his prior managers.
I couldn’t help but think, “how the hell does he know?”
After all, that is and will continue to be the discussion following Matheny, right? Experience, inexperience, and plenty of second-guessing (he’s a manager now!).
But for all of the discussion about what Mathfny is and isn’t – no one knows for certain. Everyone has their opinions and prior examples to support their position. Yet this is Matheny’s first-go, so the most important case study – his – is yet to be written.
Baseball folks love to argue about which statistics are most important for pitchers and players, about which are most indicative of value or performance. With managers, one can drill down several performance indicators, decision-making, et al. But at the end of the day, what qualifies a manager, what keeps them employed, is wins.
Let’s hope Matheny is more Hall of Fame than A.J. Hinch.