It’s been one week, since John Mozeliak cocked his head to the side and said I’m angry to Mike Matheny. Well technically it’s been 10 days but it has been one week in baseball time, seven games. So let’s take an all too early look at what effect the change has had on our home team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals have gone 3-4 in the seven games, competing against the first-place Chicago Cubs and the trending Cincinnati Reds. First off I feel like the record aspect is over-rate at times. A team can be playing good and still not win a game because they lack the talent. Or a team can play poorly but win because another team screws up. So I think we should judge the Cardinals on how they finish the season on the field and not in the standings.
So has anything changed? Well according to many new manager Mike Schildt has put an emphasis on defense. This belief stems from him sitting Jose Martinez for the first four games of his tenure. But people fail to realize that in those same games he started Dexter Fowler in right field. The same Fowler that is a -6.8 in defensive rating. Meanwhile Harrison Bader, a 4.1 plus defensive rating, sat on the bench. So was it really a defensive minded lineup or maybe there was something else at hand and people wanted to build the narrative to attention of defense?
Speaking of Fowler, Matheny was often criticized for playing veterans over younger players. Well isn’t this the same thing with Fowler and Schildt? Fowler is hitting .177 this year with his atrocious defense. Yet Bader with good defense is hitting .277 and provides plenty of energy. Yet I don’t hear much being said about Fowler playing over Bader. And no I am not saying that Bader is a savior but what happened to going with the better player that people were calling for just weeks ago? There doesn’t seem to be the same judgement as before.
Over the last week we have seen the Cardinals bust out for 18 runs but then score two in their next game, and tally three runs total in their last two games before Tuesday. We have seen the Cardinals take a lead into the 9th inning only to see the bullpen blow the game. We have seen them go three games without an error and then have a three error game. We have seen a starting pitcher reach the beyond the 5th inning just once, and that was from the phenomenal performance by Daniel Ponce De Leon. But wasn’t it earlier this season when people claimed Matheny was going to burn through the bullpen by pulling his starters early?
This post isn’t to defend Matheny, he certainly made plenty of questionable decisions. But the post is to point out that many of the same situations Matheny dealt with are still in play. Inconsistent starting pitching, lack of sustainable offense, poor defense, and a horrible bullpen. All of this issues remain, so let’s not ignore them just because there is a new manager. Because maybe it wasn’t the manager at all but the roster makeup that cost the Cardinals wins.