Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Diamond Dirt: An inexperienced manager won't work

  • St. Louis Cardinals executives have quite the task ahead of them. Not only is finding a manager a long and drawn-out process, they have to replace a position that has been held by Tony La Russa for 16 seasons.

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  • St. Louis Cardinals executives have quite the task ahead of them.
    Not only is finding a manager a long and drawn-out process, they have to replace a position that has been held by Tony La Russa for 16 seasons.
    After that many years of the same manager, it’s safe to say the Cardinals were relaxed. La Russa ran the show, and that’s all their was.
    Now they have to find the new leader of the legendary ball club –– they have to figure out what kind of manager they want and who would be best to fill the job.
    The only thing General Manager John Mozeliak, Bill Dewitt and the rest of the team owners and managerial search committee should not do is hire a manager that has no experience.
    I think it’s great that Mike Matheny is in the running for Cardinals manager, but his inexperience just isn’t the only thing that worries me if for whatever reason he got the job. A good number of players he would be managing would be his buddies, his former teammates. Let’s not forget Matheny used to catch Chris Carpenter, and he used to share the catching position with Yadier Molina. That could be very difficult to go from one of the guys to the boss.
    The same thing happened to Yogi Berra in 1964. He got promoted to manager of the New York Yankees after the 1963 World Series, and in an instant, he had to go from chum to leader. Despite the Yankees winning the ’64 American League Pennant (but that doesn’t even matter since the Yankees went to the World Series every year between 1960 and 1964), it was obvious Berra didn’t have much of an affect on players.
    The same thing’s going to happen if Matheny got the nod to be the next Cardinals’ skipper. He needs coaching experience at the big league level, he needs to get managing experience in the minors, and he needs to build himself a resume before he even gets considered for a job.
    Too soon for ‘Little Mac’
    Joe McEwing was the cute little infielder dubbed “Little Mac” when he played for the Cardinals, but for him to take over for Tony La Russa would just be way too soon for him.
    He isn’t even 40 years old –– not that that means anything in particular –– and he needs more time to learn before he gets a MLB managing job. He’s managed in the minors in the Chicago White Sox system, and I have no doubt he learned a lot from La Russa when he played for him in St. Louis –– who wouldn’t. However, more seasoning would work in his favor. Some time at the big league level as a coach would certainly put him on a path to becoming a manager someday, but not now.
    Page 2 of 3 - McEwing has an advantage managing and coaching in the minors, and it’s because all those players are kids trying to make the big clubs. The major league level has grown men with different backgrounds, paychecks and egos. McEwing should adapt to that experience as a coach before jumping into the deep end as manager.
    Confidence, desire is what’s needed
    What’s the deal with Terry Francona being a frontrunner for the job? Yes, he did manage some great teams in Boston, but has anyone noticed that his confidence and motivation is like riding a rollercoaster at Six Flags?
    When Francona isn’t feeling himself or is mentally out of the game or has lost hope, it shows, and it reflects in his team. Surely, the Red Sox seasons during his tenure there can attest to that. This is something St. Louis doesn’t need. They need someone who is confident and strong, no matter the circumstances a season can bring.
    Like I’ve said before, Francona would have in no way brought the Cardinals back from a 10 1/2-game deficit and lead them to a World Series victory. He would have mentally checked out Aug. 25, just before the team staged their great comeback.
    The longtime coaches just itching to manage, Jose Oquendo and Terry Pendleton, who have worked under legendary and skilled managers should get the job in St. Louis.
    Oquendo has worked for many years under La Russa, for national teams in Puerto Rico and has even at times served as manager of the team while La Russa was suspended or away from the team. He also knows the direction the executives want to take. He’s not a stranger to the players and is very smart with offensive strategies.
    The same goes for Pendleton. He served under Bobby Cox for years in Atlanta; this man’s ready to go, and he deserves a team to run. Let’s not forget, he was quite the hitter in his day and as a coach in Atlanta, and he’s played a huge role in taking the Braves in to consistent postseasons.
    Some will say that Ryne Sandberg is also due for a chance at the big leagues, but unlike Oquendo and Pendleton, he has not coached at the big league level. And I have news for you: Just because he’s in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t mean anything.
    Something the Cardinals should also consider with their managerial candidates is that La Russa’s coaches may not be around much longer. It’s uncertain if Mark McGwire will return as hitting coach. Pitching Coach Dave Duncan said he wants to return in 2012, but the health of his wife might not allow that. Dave McKay, first base coach, said in many interviews in the past that he’ll leave when La Russa leaves. That pretty much leaves Joe Pettini as bench coach and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist.
    Page 3 of 3 - McEwing and Matheny would make great coaches, even if they don’t get the managing job, and it would certainly buff up their credibility.
    Oh well, I’m not a baseball executive –– even though at times I feel I could be. I’m just hoping (Cardinals patronage aside) the right decision is made. The game needs competitive teams.

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