ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals announced Thursday that they were "parting ways" with manager Mike Shildt.
The move came as a surprise to many considering the team was just eliminated from the playoffs is less than a month removed from a franchise-record, 17-game winning streak. But in a press conference Thursday, the team cited "philosophical differences" in relieving Shildt of managerial duties.
As the Cardinals look ahead and begin a search for the team's next manager, it is a good time to look back at the team's long history of managers and where Shildt ranks in that history.
Shildt became the team's 50th manager after climbing the ranks of the organization after starting as a scout in 2003. In 2018, he took the manager job after Mike Matheny was fired in 2018.
He had a .559 winning percentage over his three-and-a-half seasons and led the team to the playoffs in each of his three full seasons as manager, including the pandemic-shortened 2020 season that featured an expanded playoff format.
He won National League Manager of the Year in 2019. In that season, he won the first playoff series of his career, an NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Among managers with more than 400 games as manager, Shildt's .559 winning percentage was sixth in team history and ahead of Cardinals Hall of Famers Tony La Russa(.544 in 2,591 games), Whitey Herzog(.530 in 1,553 games), and Red Schoendienst(.522 in 1,999 games).
So, with all that in mind, where does that place Shildt in the history of the team?
After a bit of research, here are the tiers that I came up with. These tiers do not include all 50 of the managers.
Best of the Best
Tony La Russa(1996-2011 | W-L: 1,408-1,182), Whitey Herzog(1980-1990 | W-L: 822-728), Red Schoendienst(1965-1976, 1980 | W-L: 1041-955) and Billy Southworth(1929, 1940-1945 | W-L: 680-346)
La Russa and Whitey are considered some of the best in-game strategists in the history of the game, and they have the regular season and playoff success to show for it.
La Russa, who managed the team during the Wild Card era, has 50 playoff wins, two World Series championships, and a playoff winning percentage(.543) that is nearly identical to his regular-season mark(.544). La Russa is the only manager with more than 2,000 games at the helm.
If you have a playing style named after you, you're pretty good. The Whitey-ball Cardinals electrified fans with their incredible speed and defense. The style was more than just being entertaining, though. The Cardinals won one World Series and made two more during Herzog's time with the team. He's one of three managers in the team's history with a playoff winning percentage over .500 with three or more trips to the playoffs.
The third manager with a .500+ winning percentage was Billy Southworth. While there probably aren't many who remember his in-game strategy, the numbers don't lie. He has two World Series Championships and a franchise-best winning percentage of .642 in 981 games. He had a short-lived stint as a player-manager in 1929, but returned for a dominant stretch from 1940-1945. He was the leader of the team for the 1942 and 1944 World Series Championships.
Schoendienst is the final member of this top tier. He led the Cardinals during one of their most successful eras. From 1965-1976, Red's Cardinals were 1,023-936, including back-to-back NL Pennants in 1967 and 1968. They won it all in 1967 with a who's who of Cardinals legends.
Johnny Keane(1961-1964 | W-L: 317-249), Eddie Dyer(1946-1950 | W-L: 446-325), Frankie Frisch(1933-1938 | W-L: 458-354), Gabby Street(1929-1933 | W-L: 312-242), Rogers Hornsby(1925-1926 | W-L: 153-116)
Dyer, Frisch, Street and Hornsby were the men who oversaw the early years of dominance for the Cardinals organization. Hornsby won the Triple Crown and an MVP as a player-manager in 1925 and followed it up with the Cardinals' first World Series championship the following year.
Gabby Street picked up the torch a few years later and led what would become known as the Gashouse Gang. Under Street, the team went to two World Series, winning one in 1931.
Frankie Frisch took the manager job while still playing at an All-Star level in the Cardinals infield. He managed the team to the 1934 championship, his fourth as a player and first as a manager.
Eight years after Frisch's tenure with the Cardinals, Eddie Dyer took over. With Stan Musial leading the team, Dyer's Cardinals won one NL pennant and took home the title in seven games in his first year, 1946.
Eleven years after Dyer's time with the team, Johnny Keane got his brief time leading the team. He managed the team to a title in 1964 before departing to manage the team he just beat, the New York Yankees.
Modern Era Winners
Mike Matheny(2012-2018 | W-L: 591-474), Joe Torre(1990-1995 | W-L: 351-354)
Mike Matheny was given a proven winner in 2012 and kept the winning going for the first few years. He made the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, and helped the Cardinals reach the 2013 World Series, but never got over the hump. His 21 playoff wins are tied for second in franchise history, although they came in the watered-down Wild Card era. When things went south in 2018, he was fired in the middle of the season and replaced with Shildt.
He now managed the Kansas City Royals.
Stay with me on Joe Torre. I know he has a losing record for his Cardinals career, but he managed the team to three winning seasons from 1991-1993. There was no Wild Card spot for his teams to earn. They finished second in the NL East in 1991 and third in the NL East in 1992 and 1993. Any momentum was slowed by the strike-shortened season in 1994, and he was axed midway through 1995.
He went on to lead the Yankees to a World Series championship the next year. It kicked off one of the most successful eras in modern sports, and Torre would add three more titles in the next four years.
Branch Rickey(1919-1925 | W-L: 458-485)
His career as a manager was not as impactful as his career as a team president, where he created the idea of farm clubs to develop young players.
Bill McKechnie(1928-1928 | W-l: 129-88)
McKechnie couldn't quite get it done for the Cardinals, who were swept in the 1928 World Series. His time was short-lived in St. Louis, but he did have two titles as a manager: one with the Pirates in 1925 and one with the Reds in 1940.
So where does Shildt land? Is he in any of these notable groups at all?
For me, Shildt is solidly in the Modern Era Winners category. He wasn't able to get the job done in the playoffs, but his teams won a lot of games.
His spot in Cardinals history is secure as the manager during the team's longest winning streak despite his somewhat short tenure.
And looking at the company in that category, I think it's safe to say we haven't seen the last of Mike Shildt in Major League Baseball.