In case you missed it, the Cardinals recently relieved Mike Matheny of his duties as manager, replacing him, in the interim, with bench coach Mike Shildt.
Which means that, despite what many had hoped/guessed, Yadier Molina is not going to finish the year out as the Cardinals player-manager. However, he does seem open to the idea somewhere down the line: “For any player, that would be a dream to be considered for such a role,” Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “It would be a dream. I’m not shutting the door to anything. I am very open. Of course, maybe I would like to spend some time with my family first. But if such an opportunity comes up, obviously I would accept it.”
Although Yadier Molina may have indicated his willingness to become a player-manager – or even a full-time manager – sometime in the future, the Cardinals are going to need someone to take the reins from Shildt as soon as this offseason. So whom might that person be?
Well, I tend to think we won’t get a full, official list until the Cardinals offseason begins (promptly after their regular season finale against the Cubs on September 30th, no doubt), some early rumors have begun to trickle out. And guess what, they’re all big-time names, one way or another.
In the immediate aftermath of Matheny’s dismissal, the New York Post reported that the Cardinals could turn to former big league catcher and Yankees manager Joe Girardi for their vacant skipper job. Girardi’s contract, if you recall, was somewhat shockingly not renewed by the Yankees over the offseason, which means he’s currently managing nobody. Obviously, Girardi won’t remain out of work long, though, because he’s exactly the type of manager I would expect the Cardinals (or many other big league teams) to hire. The dude simply checks a lot of boxes.
- Former big leaguer catcher
- Former big-league managing experience
- Familiarity with St. Louis, in particular
- Long track record of success
- Openness to advanced analytics
For all the reasons we were open to the Cubs pursuing Girardi before Joe Maddon came around, the Cardinals would be too. But he’s not the only big-time name in the early rumors.
After Girardi you’ll find former Cubs manager Dusty Baker entering the race. I could very much see the Cardinals targeting someone like Baker – an old-school type with a big-time pedigree – but I think it would be a mistake for them and their increasingly young roster (and increasingly modernizing front office). Frankly, despite Baker’s recent successes, I don’t think he’s quite cut out for the modern game. So, actually, wait. I take all of this back. Hire him, Cardinals. His no-nonsense mentality and starting pitcher decisions will be PERFECT for the more sophisticated crowd in St. Louis.
And the final rumored candidate here in the early going is Carlos Beltran. Beltran interviewed for the Yankees job over the winter and reportedly impressed them a lot. He’s also a former player who played on the Cardinals (as recently as 2013) and is a clear up-and-comer in the available manager market. With that said, I really think, after hiring a first-time manager in Matheny, that the Cardinals are going to look to someone with more experience. But keep an eye on Beltran, because he’ll be a manager before too long. That’s for sure.
Other than these three names, you should expect to see a much longer list come out as soon as the offseason begins. It’ll likely include interim manager Shildt (out of respect) and whichever manager gets surprisingly fired after the season (it happens every year). The next manager of the Cardinals could have a very big impact on the Cubs as they enter the second-half of this seven-year long competitive window, so let’s hope they get it wrong.