It’s been an interesting couple of Cardinal weeks to say the least, and it’s mostly not due to anything on the field.
You’ve heard about it all by now; that John Mozeliak called Dexter Fowler’s effort-level into question; Mike Matheny has supposedly deputized Bud Norris his bullpen snitch; and Norris may or may not mentor rookie Jordan Hicks a little too ‘old school.’
Whether you think these instances have been blown out of proportion or not, one thing they haven’t done is paint a flattering picture of the local club.
This bothers a lot of Cardinal fans, but it’s not likely keeping fans in other NL Central cities up at night. (Unless they’re up laughing about it.) After all, the Redbirds were the model organization for many years and fans elsewhere were understandably tired of hearing about it. This never mattered much around STL, but these types of bummer situations have never reared their heads around here.
Cincinnati based Athletic scribe C. Trent Rosecrans recently gave some perspective on how others around the division have seen the Cards’ recent plights.
“They’re surprised because this is stuff that has never come out under the Cardinals since their revival. They’ve always been the model franchise, and right now these things are the model ‘how you don’t do it,'” Rosecrans recently told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’
“The absence of this over the last decade has been noticeable. Even when there was some drama when they let go of Walt Jocketty, they quickly countered that by winning and putting that all kind of on the backburner and it seemed to work itself out,” he added. “This doesn’t seem to be a team that can really turn that corner and use that.”
Indeed, past Cardinals teams have won a lot of baseball games and that cures just about any clubhouse ill. This iteration hasn’t shown the same resilience as in olden days and other teams have taken notice according to Rosecrans.
“It’s when you’re losing that these become huge issues, and this is a team, frankly, I don’t see the Brewers or the Cubs being scared of this Cardinals team,” Rosecrans said. “Honestly, I see the Reds, for all their faults and as bad as their start was, looking at the Cardinals and saying, ‘You know what? We could catch them this year.’
Mike Matheny’s definitely caught recent flack, both because of potentially employing bullpen spies and for the team’s ‘meh’ play overall. Once billed a ‘player’s manager’ with the moniker used to defend some of his tactical deficiencies, it’s now come into question whether this particular saving grace still applies to Matheny.
The Athletic‘s Eno Sarris has done well evaluating skippers, looking at both data and the human factor in clubhouses before drawing conclusions. He recently offered us his Matheny take looking at the numbers and considering what could be construed a somewhat turbulent clubhouse.
“I’ve tried to do it a couple different ways, and one was how often do you put your best relievers in the best situations in the game? How often do you put your best hitters in the best lineup slots? When it comes to those things, Matheny’s never done very well,” Sarris told the Bernie Show.
“This last group of things that’s happened has been like, ‘Well, now it doesn’t seem like he’s really managing the personalities that well either, which I think might be the number one job. It’s the hardest, again, to figure out,” Sarris added.
“Just reading between the lines on this Fowler stuff and this Norris stuff, I just don’t get the impression that he’s managing the personalities all that well. You’ve got a young guy, [Jordan] Hicks, who is basically your closer of the future; Norris is here on a one-year deal. Maybe you think you’re teaching Hicks that will make him a better player and person in the future, however I don’t think you’re managing Hicks as a personality that well.”
Rosecrans also chimed in on Matheny and possibly some closeted cheers around the NL Central.
“Around the division he’s not seen as one of the better tactical managers, but they’ve had results,” Rosecrans said. “It’s kind of interesting and there’s probably some people behind closed doors smiling because this is stuff that hasn’t seemed to happen to the Cardinals for the last decade-plus and now it is.”
You can hear both the Rosecrans and Sarris interviews here. Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and 101Sports.com for plenty of Cardinals talk as the season unfolds.