Kyle Mannisi, Opinions Editor
Well fellow Cardinals fans, it seems as though for the third straight year, our hometown team will not be attending baseball’s postseason festivities. At the time of the publication of this article, the Cardinals’ record stood at 87-73. FiveThirtyEight, a projection website that predicts likelihoods of events from elections to Super Bowls, says that the Cardinals’ chances of even qualifying for the playoffs stand at 7 percent.
It has certainly been a tumultuous year. If you had told me earlier this year, when we were mired in a sea of blown saves and untimely injuries that the Cardinals would not make the playoffs I really would not have been surprised. However, I would be surprised by their late-season push, which pushes them to at least an 87-win season. Not bad, considering our mid season managerial reboot, from former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny to former bench coach Mike Shildt.
Matheny’s, almost seven years as manager of the Cardinals, has produced a Win-Loss record of 591-474 and one World Series appearance: 2013, in which we were bested by the Boston Red Sox. John Mabry, Matheny’s batting coach, was fired alongside the coach when he was relieved July 14.
Matheny’s managerial style was highly criticized, especially in the months leading up to his dismissal. Under his watch, clubhouse drama spilled over into the headlines, when it was revealed that he and star outfielder Dexter Fowler were no longer on speaking terms.
Mabry was also a close personal friend to Matheny, they even attended the same church. As a hitting coach, Mabry is supposed to be responsible for the offensive side of the game, and that was arguably where the club has been weakest in the last few seasons. Mabry himself was never an exceptional hitter, suggesting to some that the position was filled based on personal privilege rather than merit. At the time of Matheny’s firing, the club was playing barely over .50, with a record of 47-46.
Since then, Shildt has led the Cardinals to a 40-26 second half, leading a charge that almost resulted in a wild card game berth. Shildt’s passion and character have been evident in the short time he has managed the club. He was recently ejected from a game after standing up for Matt Carpenter when he was called out on strikes on a rather questionable pitch.
Costly errors, blown calls, and a struggling offense are all attributable to the latest end-of-season losing skid that killed our chances of a playoff berth for the third straight year. In spite of all of this, it truly seems as though Shildt has awakened something within the Cardinals system. Having Shildt behind the reigns for a fresh season next year gives him the ability to go through his first Spring Training with the club, and cultivate his roster the way he wants to. We have a great farm system, and with an experienced manager in control and a healthy ballclub, I have no doubts that this time next year we will be preparing for a Red October.