Tag Archives: mike matheny

Does Matheny need a new bench coach?

One of the things we covered Wednesday night on our podcast was whether Mike Matheny could be a good playoff manager as he currently is, or whether he needs a mentor/guru/tactician on his bench to help him do better in the playoffs. Basically, we were considering whether to replace Mike Aldrete with a former manager to be ala Dale Sveum to Ned Yost, or Don Zimmer to Joe Torre.

Matheny, as we discussed, basically manages *every* game like it’s the regular season. This is not ideal in the post-season, and makes it appear like Mike can’t adapt to the higher pressure situation that is the playoffs

Given that the Cards (we hope) are going to continue being regulars in the playoffs, either Matheny needs to recogize the difference, or he’ll continue to struggle in the post season, and he’ll be shown the door despite making the playoffs regularly ala Dusty Baker.

.Since it’s unlikely Matheny will instantly correct this, and given that management has commited to Matheny for at least another year, we turn to the bench coach idea.

Now, I have nothing against Mike Aldrete, but he’s not a former major league manager.

But here’s another question: Does just hiring a former manager work, or does it have to be a former manager with playoff experience, someone who knows how to react under playoff pressure? And if so, where would we find such an animal? I’m not sure, many former managers with such experience are probably enjoying their retirement, and the ones itching to get back in the game would probably prefer to do it at the management level or higher (see La Russa, Tony).

However, what if you took a manager, one who managed for a penny pinching team in the past, one with very little chance of winning, but still did ok (but didn’t make the playoffs) what about a guy like that? Said guy may not have any playoff experience, but that doesn’t mean he’s not smart tactically. Plus many of these managers were merely placeholders. Of course, some of the placeholders may have been secretly good, but others may have been as bad as their won/loss record indicates.

For example, how good of a manager was Bo Porter? Nobody knows, because he wasn’t given the chance to win anything, he was merely a placeholder. But what if, among those placeholders, was a bona fide manager who could provide tactical wisdom to a guy like Mike? And wouldn’t some of those former managers/placeholders jump at a chance to work for a team with a roster designed to win now, after having to put up with all that losing? Wouldn’t that be a great way for a former manager to rebuild his value, so that he could in the future, possibly get another managing gig where he *would* have a chance to win?

Now, I’m not sure which former manager to choose, I’ll leave that determination up to the Cardinals’ upper management, they’re a little smarter than me. I do, however, think it’s an idea worth pursuing.

As always, thanks for reading.

The Chess Master Versus another Checkers Player

I’ve called Bruce Bochy a chess master in the past, and it still stands. Well, now we get to face him in the NLCS. Frankly, from a managerial standpoint, I’d much rather have faced Matt Williams. The Nationals were the more talented team, but Bochy managed his team better. I wouldn’t necessarily say the same thing about our series with the Dodgers. With that series, Mike Matheny simply screwed up less than Mattingly, there’s a big difference.

Lineup Management

Things have gotten better lately (although Pete Kozma starting in place of Kolten Wong in a NLDS game nearly set Twitter on fire) but throughout most of the season, Matheny was lambasted for starting “his guys” IE veterans who’d been around a while, guys like Allen Craig and Mark Ellis, who struggle, while the young talent in need of at-bats to develop (Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong come to mind) rode the bench. Matheny’s hand was forced a little when Craig was traded and Ellis was injured, but he still made some questionable lineup decisions.

Bochy, on the other hand, kept his team afloat despite injuries to key position players. Such as Michael Morse and Angel Pagan. He’s got a relatively deep lineup, but he’s filled his holes well when they’ve popped up. Particularly helpful has been the emergence of Joe Panik at second base, filling a position that was a black hole for the team.
Bullpen Management

Matheny has a stubborn streak when it comes to his bullpen. When Trevor Rosenthal was struggling, he stuck with him, when many people (myself included) believed Mike should’ve given somebody else a shot. Rosie has stabilized a bit, but it’s worth noting that in his last two games against the Dodgers, he allowed runners to get into scoring position both times before pulling an escape act. One wonders if his Houdini act will finally fail against the Giants.

In contrast, when Bochy, had a struggling closer in Sergio Romo, he replaced him with Santiago Casilla, who did a much better job. Sounds simple right? Apparently not. Sure, it helps that Casilla had prior experience as a closer in 2012, but even if we didn’t have a former closer on our staff, we had options, like Carlos Martinez or Pat Neshek, to name two.

In short, Bochy manages his team better, while Mike does ok, but is often carried by the talent of his team. We’ll see if that continues in the LCS.

As always, thanks for reading.