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MIKE MATHENY TO BE CARDINALS’ MANAGER
Wed, 16 Nov 2011 03:55 AM EST

One particularly loved and respected player, in fact, one of the most revered players in the club’s recent history was formally introduced as the 49th manager in team history. The club announced the fantastic decision on Sunday after what proved to be a little less than two weeks of deliberation. Matheny will apparently be replacing Tony La Russa. Tony retired after having been the team’s manager for 16 entire seasons. The organization seems to be turning in a new direction to suit new times since they have relied solely on managers with experience in the past three decades. NFL lines

Each of the team’s past three full-time managers, La Russa, Joe Torre and Whitey Herzog, had previously made the playoffs as a manager before being hired. The last man who didn’t fit that profile was another former Gold Glover in St. Louis, Ken Boyer, who managed from 1978-80 after winning five Gold Gloves as a third baseman with the Cardinals.

A longtime big league catcher, Matheny beat out a diverse group of candidatesAll but Matheny had either Major League coaching or managing experience, or Minor League managing experience. Matheny, 41, has neither.

Matheny was surprisingly high on the list of potential candidates due to his experience as a big-league catcher. However, Matheny was the only one of all who had absolutely no experience in managing. . The Cardinals interviewed six contenders over the past week, including the team’s incumbent third-base coach, Jose Oquendo, and former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, as well as Ryne Sandberg, Joe McEwing and Chris Maloney. He has served as a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, and as an instructor in Spring Training, but had yet to coach or manage in pro ball. However, no one in recent Cardinals history has been more highly regarded personally by teammates, coaches or the front office. NFL betting lines

Cardinals players are already responding to the hiring.

Matt Holliday texted, “I’m pumped. I love Mike.”

On Twitter, David Freese tweeted, “Love the hire. STL should be pumped,” while Jon Jay said, “Excited for the chance to play for Mike Matheny.”

An alumnus of the University of Michigan, Matheny played the largest portion of his 13-season Major League career with St. Louis, winning three of his four Gold Gloves as a member of the Cardinals, with whom he spent five full seasons. He retired due to the effects of a concussion he suffered in 2006 while playing for the Giants, and also spent parts of five seasons with the Brewers and one with the Blue Jays.

Over his Major League career, Matheny batted .239 with a .293 on-base percentage, a .344 slugging percentage and 67 home runs. He was widely regarded as among the best defensive catchers in the game for much of his career, if not the best, and served as a mentor to current Cards catching star Yadier Molina, who took over for him in 2005.

Matheny has recently been both a catching instructor and also a special assistant in the Cardinals’ group. He was valued even during his playing days as a potential candidate for a coaching position or a managerial one at some point. However, many consider his transfer directly into managing the Cardinals as somewhat abrupt.

One thing he may offer, though, is continuity for a team that seems likely to bring back the bulk of its roster after winning the World Series. A significant portion of the Cardinals’ coaching staff is likely to return, a source said. That includes pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is under contract for 2012 and is known to think very highly of Matheny. It is unclear whether the Cardinals plan to announce a full coaching staff on Monday.

Matheny makes his home in the St. Louis area. He and his wife, Kristen, have five children.

He was the inaugural winner of the Darryl Kile Award, presented by the St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The Kile Award is voted upon by Cardinals players each year and given to the Cardinal who best exemplifies the late pitcher’s traits as “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father and a humble man.”


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