Mike Matheny’s All-Star break has been extended indefinitely.
The Cardinals handed Matheny his walking papers on Saturday, July 14, following an 8-2 home loss to the Reds. His final record with the team was 591-474 (.555 winning percentage), including a 47-46 mark in 2018.
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While the Cards are likely a half-season away from selecting a permanent replacement (bench coach Mike Shildt was named interim manager), here are some candidates the franchise could consider as it prepares to enter a new era:
Could Girardi find his way back to the National League?
The 2006 NL Manager of the Year with the Marlins was unceremoniously let go last year by the Yankees after a playoff run that lasted much longer than many thought it would — the Bombers came up one win short of the World Series after being knocked off by the eventual world champion Astros in the ALCS. His final record with New York: 910-710 (.562 winning percentage).
Girardi has history with Cards president John Mozeliak — he played for the expansion Rockies from 1993-95 when Mozeliak was beginning his front-office career in Denver, and he ended his playing career with the Cardinals in 2003 when Mozeliak was assistant GM to Walt Jocketty. Given those connections and his clear desire to manage again, he will most likely get at least a phone call to gauge his interest.
Beltran, who had two productive seasons for the Cardinals in 2012 and 2013, was a hot managerial candidate following the 2017 season. He interviewed with the Yankees to replace Girardi and was reportedly one of the final candidates in a search that turned into something out of “Survivor.”
Beltran knows how to play the game and appears to be a fine example of the “Cardinal Way.” He’s also fresh off a World Series win with the Astros and is a beloved baseball figure and mentor. Beltran has often been hailed for his ability to communicate and guide young players, something in which the Cardinals appear to be lacking.
It’s difficult to see the Cardinals hiring Beltran given his lack of managerial experience, but giving him a call would be a sexy move. They aren’t known to be flashy when it comes to hiring managers, but it feels as though the organization needs a shot of energy, and Beltran would certainly help remove the staleness surrounding the franchise.
Like Beltran, Ibanez has interviewed recently for managerial openings. The Rays and Yankees both expressed interest in him, and he was rumored to be a candidate for the Phillies’ job last year before the club hired Gabe Kapler.
Also similar to Beltran, Ibanez doesn’t have managerial experience, but he is often hailed as a bright baseball mind. The well-traveled Ibanez, who’s four seasons removed from playing, will likely find himself leading a coaching staff in the future. Would the Cardinals — for whom Ibanez never played — give him that shot?
Oquendo is the easy in-house nominee. He is in his second stint as the Cardinals’ third-base coach (he was on the staffs of the 2006 and 2011 world championship teams) and he played 10 seasons (1986-95) for the Redbirds as the team’s popular “Secret Weapon.”
He interviewed to succeed Tony La Russa in 2011 before the Cardinals hired Matheny. He has also auditioned for the Mariners, Mets and Padres.
While it isn’t quite big-league experience, he has managed major-leaguers before: He led Team Puerto Rico, whose roster includes Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
Oquendo makes a lot of sense given his history with the organization and intimate knowledge of the “Cardinal Way,” and he’ll likely get at least a second shot at a first (or third) impression with the front office.
Say what you will about Giambi, but he is considered destined for a managing gig at some point.
Giambi was essentially a player-coach for the Rockies and Indians shortly before his 2015 retirement, and he interviewed with Colorado in 2012 before the Rockies hired Walt Weiss.
Given his ability to communicate and his reputation as a brilliant baseball mind, perhaps the Cardinals vacancy will be Giambi’s entree into managing.
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