I’ve had several people ask me about the Kansas City Royals and their search for a new manager and while I truly have very little insight on the topic, I can imagine what’s happening.
My guess is that former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was hired as a senior advisor by Royals General Manager Dayton Moore with the plan being that he would eventually succeed Ned Yost who had indicated he would stay through the darkest days of a rebuild (Moore says it’s not a “rebuild.” OK. Whatever).
Under the ownership of David Glass, that plan would have most likely played out as intended, but — and again, this is only me speculating — when John Sherman and his group bought the team (the sale still has to be approved by MLB owners at the annual winter meetings) that plan might have taken a different course.
When you talk to people about Matheny’s tenure with the Cardinals, it would appear that he did really well with the team that former Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa had assembled, but as the team became his own, it gradually got worse and worse.
That’s just not true.
Let’s keep in mind that “worse and worse” for the Cardinals would be better than almost every season in the past 30 years for the Royals, so we must keep that in perspective. Matheny’s worst record with the Redbirds was a season in which the team’s record was 83-79.
In his first season ever as a professional coach of any kind, 2012, Matheny managed the Cardinals to an 88-74 record and a Wild Card berth in the playoffs in which they lost to the St. Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
In 2013, his second year at the helm, the Cardinals won the National League Central Division, going 97-65 with an appearance in the World Series.
The team took a step back in 2014, winning a measly 90 games on its way to another — ho-hum — division title.
In 2015, the Cardinals won 100 games, hardly an indication of a team in decline. Oh, and guess what. They won the division title for the third-straight year. The team bowed out of the playoffs in the divisional round, but in just four seasons, Matheny was approaching 400 wins as a manager.
Again the team regressed in 2016, falling all the way to the terrible tally of 86 wins and 76 losses and missing the playoffs for the first time in Matheny’s managerial career. Imagine the horror.
Matheny’s Cardinals were 83-79 in 2017 and got off to a 47-46 start in 2018 before he was fired.
Dang. Tough crowd.
Matheny’s overall record as the Cardinal manager was 591-474. You would have thought he set the stadium on fire.
In contrast, Ned Yost’s record for the Royals was 744-836. He will most likely be inducted into the team’s hall of fame, have his number retired and have a statue erected in his honor on the outfield concourse at Kauffman Stadium.
Plain and simple, the reason people don't like Matheny is because he is an old-school, hard-ass and some of the younger players on the Cardinals got their feelings hurt. He has been slow to adopt the game’s trend toward analytics and those things together might be what keep him from being the next manager of the Kansas City Royals.
Stay tuned, Royals fans. Things will be changing in a big way at Kauffman Stadium and whether that ends up being for the better or for the worse, it’s sure to be exciting.
Keep in mind, we’ve lost more than 200 games the past two seasons. How much worse can it get?