Updated July 15 at 1 p.m. with comments from Cardinals officials and interim manager Mike Shildt — Mike Matheny, a former Gold Glove catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals who would go on to become the team’s manager in 2011, was fired Saturday night after a loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said at a press conference Sunday that the decision to remove Matheny was made Friday. Team officials fired Matheny the following evening. The Cardinals also fired hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller.
“We could have waited until after this season ended, but we feel like there’s enough talent and enough energy in that room that maybe we could change course, and so we decided the timing should be now," Mozeliak said.
Bench coach Mike Shildt, who has been with the Cardinals in various roles since 2004, will be the team’s interim manager.
“It’s an opportunity that I’m excited for, I’m ready for,” Shildt said Sunday. “I just got through talking with the team, and we have a good energy and a nice plan that we’ll put into place over the next several days, and today’s the day to get that started.”
Matheny, 47, had never managed at the major-league level when Mozeliak and team chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. tapped him to lead the Cardinals in November 2011, following Tony La Russa’s retirement.
Despite his inexperience, Matheny led the team to the playoffs in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, including a trip to the World Series in 2013 and a 100-win season in 2015. After just six and a half seasons, Matheny ranked fifth in all-time wins among Cardinals managers.
But the team had faltered in recent years, missing the playoffs for the last two seasons. Many Cardinals fans on Twitter this weekend wrote that they were surprised Matheny was fired mid-season.
“Continuity in and of itself isn’t a goal; The goal is to have a successful team.” DeWitt said at the press conference. “What I really value is consistent winning.”
Rumors of discord in the clubhouse had also been spreading, and much of it linked back to Matheny. Mozeliak addressed those rumors Sunday.
“I think some of what was being reported over the last few weeks is not something that was necessarily pushing us in this direction,” Mozeliak said, adding that the decision to remove Matheny was “clearly a reflection more on how we were playing and just the overall performance of our results.”
In the two games before Matheny was fired, the Cardinals had been outscored by the Reds 17-3.
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