Buffa: Why are the Cardinals so protective of Mike Matheny?

ST. LOUIS - While the Washington Nationals and Steven Strasburg stare really hard at medicine bottle labels, let's talk about a few things.

John Farrell was fired by the Boston Red Sox today, and it didn't matter how many playoff appearances or World Series titles he brought home. The front office knew a change was needed and acted on it.

It's too bad the St. Louis Cardinals can't do the same with Mike Matheny, a manager who is losing more games as the seasons stack up, but faces no action from above. Matheny's Cardinals lost to Farrell and the Sox in the 2013 World Series. Do you think Farrell would have pitched to David Ortiz as much if he played for the Cardinals? Chew on that one as I move along.

The Red Sox won the American League East Division back to back years, but were eliminated in the first round each time, prompting a change. Let me repeat: Farrell's Sox won 93 games each in 2016 and 2017, but he won't be their manager in 2018. Matheny won 86 and 83 games in the same time frame, but he returns to the dugout next season. 

Sure, The Red Sox had a couple last place finishes in 2014 and 2015, but there was some roster overhaul required after the 2013 run, and certain players just flopped. The news is that Farrell brought in 90 game winners during three of his five years in Boston, but was canned after playoff disappointments. 

Why exactly are John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. gun shy with Matheny? 

Mike Matheny was voted among the worst game managers by Joe Sheehan this year, and his management down the stretch in September proved the point in full. Do you think Farrell leaves a clearly unreliable Michael Wacha in to pitch to Addison Russell in that fateful Cubs matchup two weeks ago? The answer is no. 

If The Red Sox, a high dollar organization with eyes on the prize every season, can make a big change, why can't the Cardinals? What makes you think Matheny will be better in 2018 with better players? 

Last week, the team fired pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and promised to launch some new pitching coach data system idea for next season. They think handing Matheny a new toy will solve the problem, but it won't. His ineptitude at managing a big league ballclub is on the table. 

Does he have the experience? Matheny has 972 games of experience, and to his credit, has won 560 of those, with 21 playoff victories along side those regular season triumphs. But he is clearly losing his way with the team and doesn't have much control over the clubhouse. Mozeliak repeatedly has to trade guys that Matheny overuses or won't stop misusing. It's like telling a kid the stove is hot and not to touch it, but watching as the kid touches it. 

Where's the cutoff going to be? The Cardinals will have to spend loads of money to fix this team, and if Matheny stays and wins, he may finish the contract he signed this year. 

Oh, that's right. Matheny got an extension during his second playoff-less season. The same as Mozeliak getting a promotion during a doomed season. Way to fuel the desire for change by handing out awards in failing seasons. 

Look, I get it. Boston is under a hotter microscope and has double the payroll of the Cardinals, so Dave Dombrowski had to act quick. But that doesn't mean the Cardinals have to give Matheny a long leash. Farrell had a year left on his deal. Matheny has more, and those dollars aren't guaranteed. 

Maybe there's more to it. There was some off-the-field turmoil between Red Sox pitcher David Price and retired player Dennis Eckersley that ruffled a few feathers this season, so maybe the juice there played a part. Maybe Farrell had simply lost a portion of his clubhouse, and a change had to happen.

If The Red Sox, who won the division in back to back seasons, can notice a change is required, then why can't the Cardinals? Buy me a cup of coffee and explain it to me like a five year old, because I am out of ideas.

Why are the Cardinals so protective of Matheny? DeWitt Jr. told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Matheny is the guy to lead this team into the future, or back from the rested October land. How is he going to do that? Will the Cardinals really spend the right amount of money to help their manager become better at his job? 

There are fans out there who love Matheny and support him, pointing at his winning records and good guy approach to the job. I used to be one of those people until I learned. Now, I find talking to that crowd incredibly difficult, because they are convinced Matheny can win a World Series here. That won't happen.

The Red Sox perhaps stumbled onto the idea that Farrell wasn't bringing home the trophy again. The Cardinals seem to know that with Matheny, but won't pull the trigger and make a change. Why? Pour me a drink. 

I think Farrell is a better manager than Matheny, and he lost his job today. 

Elsewhere in the land of baseball:

  • Matt Holliday can't buy an at-bat and I am not sure why. The Yankees DH hitters were 0-14 coming into Game 5 tonight. Holliday has 13 career postseason home runs. Earth to Joe Girardi, wake up and play the man. 
  • Kolten Wong can put together a meal in a kitchen. Nice. Hopefully he doesn't get hurt before the meal is ready.
  • Jake Arrieta is currently pitching Game 5 and will later become a free agent pitcher. Do I think the Cardinals should sign him? If it was a two year contract, sure. Arrieta's innings pitched are dropping by the year and his effectiveness is going right with it. He looked lost during large stretches of the 2017 season. If the Cards want innings, they should just re-sign Lance Lynn. If Arrieta accepts a smaller term, he could bounce back at Busch. 
  • I miss Carlos Beltran. Remember his work in St. Louis? Two years wasn't enough. 

Have an offseason Cardinals gripe? Fire away at buffa82@gmail.com. I accept anything but hate, and in some cases even that's digestible.

Thanks for reading.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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