After he thanked Mike Matheny for his service over the last seven years, St. Louis Cardinals Chairman of the Board Bill DeWitt Jr. got to the bottom line of why there was a press conference this morning.
“Unfortunately, I think our team has not played up to its capabilities and it was time for a fresh voice and some new leadership,” said DeWitt.
The team announced last night that Mike Matheny had been dismissed as manager, as well as hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller.
“Some places, winning is just a winning record or even .500 is acceptable,” continued DeWitt. “Players have a nice season, go home, and get back to their families and so forth–but not in this city, not with this franchise, and not with this history, and not with our great fans.”
“We believe in this team, we believe in the talent, we believe in the type of character that our players represent, and we think that this is a new start. A fresh start and an opportunity for them, today if we get the game in and beginning in Chicago next week, this “2nd Half” to do a whole lot better. We’re excited about it. And as I’ve said before, I believe in this team. I believe in the talent. If it all comes together and performs up to it’s capabilities, plays as a team, and responds to the new leadership that we can have a great second half and make a real run at the playoffs and hopefully later.”
The Cardinals enter today with a record of 47-46. At times they have looked like a team ready to go on an extended run and challenge for the top of the NL Central. Then just as quickly, they have turned in basement-dweller performances. It’s that sort of inconsistency which ultimately led to Matheny being let go.
“The one thing we all agree, they worked tirelessly to try to get this right,” echoed Mozeliak of the released trio. “As we enter this All-Star break, it gives everybody the chance to reflect on where we are and what we need to do differently.
The Cardinals have lost 4 of their last 6 games and last night’s loss marked the fifth time this season the team had allowed a combined 15 or more runs in back to back losses. That feeling of two steps forward, two steps back was not lost on the front office.
“We want to try and find a way to salvage this season,” stated Mozeliak.
With the reiteration from both DeWitt and Mozeliak on their belief in the talent on this team, the question was raised as to why the production has not been there and what role Matheny played in that.
“Sometimes when you’re on that treadmill of life and you don’t feel like you’re actually getting anywhere, it might be time for a change in messaging or the voice,” said Mozeliak. “This is an opportunity for Mike Shildt and bringing up two hitting coaches that have been in our minor leagues who have had tremendous success working with a lot of these players that are in this clubhouse. Rather than reflect on necessarily what wasn’t working, we are now going to put a lot of energy into what we can get right. And certainly under Mr. Shildt’s leadership, we hope that begins now.”
Mark Budaska and George Greer will be brought in to serve as the new hitting instructors.
“A lot of the players have worked with these individuals,” said Mozeliak. “They know them. We wanted this to be as seamless as possible, but we also wanted it to be different and we think we were able to do that.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull-STLBaseballWeekly.com, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports