ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals have fired manager Mike Shildt, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced in an abruptly called news conference Thursday afternoon.
"After a successful 2021 season, we have determined that we have a philosophical difference in the direction that our major league club is going," Mozeliak said, "We feel that at this time that it is best for us to end our partnership with Mike Shildt. I notified him earlier today that he has been dismissed of his duties."
Mozeliak informed Shildt in a phone call on Thursday morning that he was being let go after three and a half years as the team’s manager.
Mozeliak said they were "struggling to get on the same page." He declined to expand on what the philosophical differences were but said the club is feeling "very optimistic" about next season. He added that the firing didn't come down to Shildt's wins-losses record as a manager.
He added it wasn't an easy decision to make "but ultimately we feel like this was something we had to do."
It is exceptionally rare for clubs to fire managers the same day as a playoff game — the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played the decisive game in their divisional series late Thursday. But Mozeliak and Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. decided that it was important enough to seek permission from Major League Baseball to make the move immediately.
“I think Mo said it well: This is based on differences between Mo and his group and the manager, and you know, it didn't have anything to do with this year,” DeWitt said. “I value continuity, but I value continuity if we're continuing to head in the right direction. This is a decision that everyone bought into and that's kind of how it played out.”
Watch the Cardinals full announcement in the YouTube video below:
Shildt had one year remaining on his contract, and it was expected that he would receive an extension on that contract at some point this winter. Mozeliak said Thursday that the front office decided it would be best to part ways now and start fresh for the 2022 season.
Shildt, 53, had worked in the Cardinals’ organization since being hired as a scout and coach in 2004. He spent eight seasons as a manager in the farm system before he was promoted to the major-league coaching staff in 2017. He was promoted to manager when Mike Matheny was fired in July 2018.
The Cardinals president said Shildt was "very shocked" by the decision, and he acknowledged how quickly the firing came about.
"I would say the conclusions came rather quickly but it was something that was brought to my attention over time," Mozeliak said.
He said his team will spend the next few days "catching their breaths" before seeing what direction they want to move with the next manager. He added that there are several "quality internal candidates."
In each of his full three seasons as the manager, Shildt led the Cardinals into the playoffs, including earning the second Wild Card spot this season. They lost 3-1 to the Dodgers on a walk-off home run.
Shildt sat down with 5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano earlier this week for a Sports Plus interview.
Shildt said the disappointment of losing the Wild Card Game in heartbreaking fashion was tough, but the team was getting over it while learning a lesson for the future.
"I think it (getting past the outcome of the game) happened to some degree fairly quickly although it's going to gnaw at me and I think our group in hopefully a healthy way," Shildt said. "That's one of the things I spoke to the group about after the game, is you have every right to feel the hurt. You should feel the hurt. It hurt so bad because we cared so much and we invested so much and I want you to hold on to that hurt a little bit because it can be motivating to know what it feels like."
Shildt reflected with Frank at the time that it was never lost on him that he was the leading man for a historic organization.
"I go a different route than most people go to our stadium. I get off and I go down 7th and I look up and the first thing I see is the big St. Louis Cardinals sign at the top of the stadium. It's just perfectly centered when you go down that street. And then I get to the end of the street and it dead ends into Stan's statue. And I just sit there at that light and go, 'Alright Stan let's go today.' But I can't believe I manage this team. And I look at the stadium every time I go by it, or to it or from it and I go, 'Whew, I manage this team. I'm responsible for some of what goes on here,'" Shildt said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.