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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny not doing his team any favors

Oct 28, 2013, 11:58 PM EDT

World Series Red Sox Cardinals Baseball AP

It started with the lineup: Mike Matheny chose to go with Shane Robinson in center field in Game 5 and had him bat second, with Carlos Beltran dropping into the cleanup spot.

On the surface, it didn’t seem like a great move. Maybe it would have turned out better had leadoff man Matt Carpenter gotten on once or twice, giving Robinson a chance to play some small ball. That never materialized.

Really, though, the moment the move no longer made any sense at all was when the hobbled Allen Craig became a late addition to the lineup. But rather than juggle things, Matheny simply had Craig bat sixth, rather than his usual cleanup spot. Perhaps even better than batting Beltran second and Craig fourth: batting Craig second. With Craig severely limited defensively by his bad foot. hitting him at the top of the order might have earned him an extra at-bat before he needed to be removed for defense. But, no, it was Robinson. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

What else? Well, leaving Adam Wainwright in to finish the seventh was the move that really doomed the Cardinals. With Wainwright approaching 100 pitches and an off day tomorrow, there was no reason not to have someone warmed up and ready. That Wainwright issued his first walk of the game to an ice cold Stephen Drew with one on and one out in the seventh suggested he was about done. David Ross followed with an RBI double, giving the Red Sox the lead. Boston later made it 3-1 on a Jacoby Ellsbury bloop single.

I’m not going to blame Matheny for letting Wainwright face Ross; even if Martinez was a better choice in that spot, a move to pull the ace then would have been a true surprise. But leaving him in to face Ellsbury was a bad call. The easy assumption is that it happened only because Wainwright had made Ellsbury look pretty bad his first three times up. Of course, it’s not like Ellsbury ripped a ball into the gap that fourth time, either. Still, it was an assignment that should have gone to one of the Cardinals’ left-handed relievers. Kevin Siegrist was ready and could have taken over.

The other big choice Matheny had to make was whether how to handle the eighth after David Freese‘s one-out double off Jon Lester. At that point, the Cardinals seemed to have a much better chance of scoring than they would in the ninth against Koji Uehara. However, the only right-handed hitter on the Cardinals’ bench was backup catcher Tony Cruz, and his last at-bat came in the regular season. Matheny chose to let Kozma hit. Predictably, he was an easy out. Really, any of the lefties would have been better bets. Matheny then chose to have Matt Adams bat lefty-lefty out of the pitcher’s spot, only to watch the Red Sox give up that advantage and go with Uehara. It didn’t matter; Uehara made quick work of the one power threat on the Cardinals bench.

At that point, the Cardinals had the top of the order set to go in the ninth. Unfortunately, that top of the order was Carpenter-Robinson-Matt Holliday. Jon Jay hit for Robinson, who went 0-for-3, and grounded out. For the second game in a row, Beltran could only watch as the Cardinals lost by two runs.

  1. detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Sounds like you should interview for a managerial job. You’d do a great job, with the benefit of hindsight.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      Yes, nobody though Matheny should pull Wainwright against Ellsbury.

      Except for FUCKING EVERYONE. Matheny is sticking to his starters too long this postseason has been the subject of much discussion. In fact, here is copy and pasted verbatim from the Fangraphs Game 5 chat:

      Jeff Sullivan: Should not be Wainwright here
      Jeff Sullivan: Should not be Wainwright here…
      David Temple: Waiting….
      Jeff Sullivan: haha
      David Temple: Waiting…
      David Temple: Damn.
      Jeff Sullivan: It’s not like Ellsbury has a huge platoon split but damn
      Jeff Sullivan: Lookie look
      Jeff Sullivan: Matheny burned AGAIN. Amazing.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Jeff Sullivan: Matheny, not pulling your starter in time is a Cardinal Sin, not the Cardinal Way!!!

      • metroplexsouthsider - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        This leads to my favorite post-season Cards question: Where’s Waldo, I mean Shelby Miller? I mean, if he wasn’t going to be available last night, that means, all the Matheny and Mozeliak denials aside, he’s toast for the year, and he’s dead wood on the postseason roster.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:30 AM

      Not really my point. How easy is it to watch something happen, know the end result, and the write about it? Let’s say Matheny made the move and the reliever gives up the hit. All the sudden the talking heads would bash Matheny for taking Wainwright out. I get that’s how it works, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Being a manager isn’t easy.

      • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:13 AM

        No talking head would bash Matheny for taking out an obviously tired starter for Seigriest…whose 0.45 ERA was the lowest by a pitcher with at least 30 IP since 1911, regardless of the result. It’s not like it happened while Wainwright was pitching really great. He just gave up the go-ahead run AND he walked Stephen Drew while in the midst of his Pete Kozma impression.

      • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:27 AM

        I completely agree he should have been pulled, but the writer makes it seem so easy to manage. That’s where my problems lie. Tough night tonight between a Cards and Rams loss.

      • mornelithe - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        You’re right there are many things about being a baseball manager that are above and beyond the normal fan or writers experience. That’s probably why managers are paid as much as they are, to know these things.

        However, the concept of pulling a pitcher when he starts losing his accuracy doesn’t require a degree in quantum mechanics. It’s something virtually everyone saw before the Sox scored on Wainright again in the 7th, his curve was failing him, as showcased by 3 straight balls to Drew after being up 1-2 against him. Walking Drew, should’ve been Wainright’s curtain call, the Cards have too many excellent arms in their pen to take risks like that, especially when a pivotal game is on the line.

      • metroplexsouthsider - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        He could have replaced him with Where’s Waldo, I mean, Shelby Miller. Geez, Mo and Matheny are fooling nobody with a wasted roster spot.

    • heeterjoe - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Exactly. Who could possibly know (in advance) that you should walk a guy (who is batting .750) with first base open? Come on. Is Matheny supposed to be some kind of Houdini?

    • dickclydesdale - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      Seth Maness should have been left off the flight back to Boston for hanging that meatball.
      Blame him not Matheny.

  2. riverace19 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    I don’t understand how you get paid to write these posts, Matthew.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:50 AM

      Each pay day NBC electronically transfers funds into his personal checking account.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:29 AM

        Electronic transfer eh? And I thought it was done with sacks of gold delivered to his house.

      • cofran2004 - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM

        Or they issue him a check. You figure a blogger would be down with direct deposit, but you never know. Some people prefer the feeling of the check in their hand.

  3. Jack Marshall - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Doesn’t Matheny look like he’s in a permanent eye-roll every time the camera catches him? I keep expecting to see him pull out a revolver and put it to his temple. Is he always like that, or just in the post-season?

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      He seems like the life of the party guy 😉

  4. Carl Hancock - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Matheny’s management of the pitching in the last 2 games contributed greatly to them losing both games. Yes the manager doesn’t hit. But he does decide when to bring in a deliver, went to pitch around someone or when to walk someone, etc. He seems to completely disregard how good Ortiz has been hitting and rather than bring in a left specialist to do what left specialists do… he sticks with a righty who feeds him a fastball. Nice. Tonight they should have walked Ortiz before he had a chance to double with 1 out in the first. At least then it would setup the double play. Instead? Let’s pitch Ortiz a fastball and he hits an RBI double. How in the hell the Cardinals are giving Ortiz anything remotely hittable is beyond me. You’d think having played for Tony LaRussa he might have learned a thing or two about bullpen management and playing match ups. Nobody was better than that than LaRussa. Obviously Matheny learned absolutely nothing.

  5. apkyletexas - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    The Cards need look no further than their leadoff man for the reason they are down in the series. Carpenter was a fantastic OBP hitter all season and in the first round of the playoffs. Now that he has completely disappeared, the Cards aren’t getting a large number of their regular RBI opportunities. That offense is structured around the top of the lineup getting on base and getting moved into scoring position for the big bats. The. Red Sox have completely taken that away in this series, leaving the Cards looking for the long ball too often to produce their runs. If Methaney could magically produce a replacement leadoff hitter this late in the year, the Cards could have a chance to come back. Certainly Beltran should be put back at #2. You’ve got to have someone getting. On base at the top of the lineup.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:16 AM

      Well, I’m to going to blame it all on Carpenter. The Cardinals have just ONE player slugging over .400 this series.

      • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:29 AM

        NOT going to blame it all on Carpenter.

        Me phrase type good not.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:34 AM

      Time to get drastic

      1) Beltran RF
      2) Holliday LF
      3) Molina C
      4) Craig DH
      5) Adams 1b
      6) Freese 3b
      7) Descalso SS
      8) Robinson CF
      9) Carpenter 2b

      Hope Robinson can get on base and possibly steal a bag. Taking the pressure off Carp by moving him to 9th. If it went according to plan Beltran would hit with runners on, or at least get an extra at bat.

      • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:36 AM

        No 8)

        Thats supposed to be Robinson in the 8th hole

      • simalex - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        call it the Leyland Maneuver.

  6. j0esixpack - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    Everyone second guesses a manager after a loss – but not even having someone warming up in the 7th free walking Ross?

    That’s not second guessing. That’s what every St. Louis fan was screaming for

    • mornelithe - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      He walked Drew, not Ross. But, the point still remains and is accurate. Wainright should’ve been yanked after that walk.

  7. 11championships - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    I agree with everything in this article except the questioning of Robinson. Robinson is a better hitter and a better fielder than Jay, not to mention the lefty was starting for the Red Sox.

  8. Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    So we’re saying Matheny didn’t play his Cards right?

    • KR - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:04 AM


    • aceshigh11 - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:22 AM

      You know what Kenny Rogers has to say about the Cards, right?

      You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

    • jarathen - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:33 AM



    • rocketsteadman - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      I guess winning last night, just wasn’t in the Cards….


    • indaburg - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      High five, FC.

  9. Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Matheny committed a Cardinal sin by not taking out Wainwright sooner.

    • bigmeechy74 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Leave OU out of this

  10. pastabelly - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Trying to figure out why he left Kozma in to hit for himself when he came up as the tying run. However, these morning after or hours after articles here are laced with hindsight.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      Some of us were thinking it as it happened. Really.

  11. stex52 - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    The Cards need to try something new. It’s called hitting the ball. If they do a little bit of that, Matheny is a genius again.

    All of this ex post facto micromanagement stuff is fun, but really beside the point. Nobody is hitting for the Cards. That is why they are losing.

    • paperlions - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM


      Neither manager has distinguished himself with his in-game management this series. But the Red Sox have done a better job hitting Cardinal pitchers (or Cardinal pitchers have done a worse job of getting out Red Sox hitters) than the Cardinals have done against Boston Pitchers.

      Watching each game (the last 2 with a combination of medicine head and general illness), the Red Sox hitters (as a group) have had a much better approach at the plate than have the Cardinal hitters…and that better approach has led to better results. For some games, it was essentially Ortiz creating all scoring opportunities (sometimes by his mere presence), but even then the Red Sox hitters weren’t getting them selves out very much. The bottom 1/2 of the Cardinal’s order has been great at swinging at balls and watching called strikes….even against the rather helpless Buchholz.

      The Red Sox are up 3-2 because they have played better….not because they are being managed better.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Though to Farrell’s credit, he employed the Double Switch correctly last night. The man CAN learn from his mistakes.

      • paperlions - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM


        One can nit-pick at all kinds of things post hoc (e.g., if Wainwright wouldn’t have pitched to Drew like he was scared to throw a strike, then no runs probably score that inning)….but in the end there were hundreds of things that contributed to the final score….and most of those things were player controlled (e.g. execution on every pitch/play), not manager controlled.

  12. LampyB - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Sounds like you were ready to cry about it when writing the article

  13. 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    I think this headline is perfect. Matthew isn’t saying that Matheny is solely to blame for the loss, just that he’s not really putting his Cardinals in the best position to win. I’m not familiar with his managing style, but it’s very clear that — at least during the World Series — he trusts his pitchers. As a regular-season, long-term strategy, that’s a good idea. I would think it makes the players more loyal.

    But every time that Matheny has faced a choice of whether to pull the starter or see if he can get just one more out, he leaves the guy in. And that’s especially odd given how amazing his young relief corps is. Given the days off in the playoffs, a reliever is available for pretty much every single game. They were rested going into the World Series. There was a day off after game 2 and another after game 5. No reason to hold these guys in reserve.

    Batting Craig sixth made no sense at all to me. None. If Craig can play, his only value is as a hitter. I just don’t get it.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      One other criticism of the Cardinals’ organization: they don’t know how to shift against Ortiz. Last night, it happened again: he grounded a ball to shallow right, within reach of the second baseman, and reached on a single. In the AL East (against everyone but Toronto, but I’m not sure about what they do), those singles would be outs. As a Sox fan, it’s so frustrating. But Girardi, Showalter, and Maddon use a very effective Ortiz shift.

      The Ortiz shift isn’t just about backing up the second baseman. It’s about backing up the second baseman AND moving him significantly toward the foul line. Blame Matheny? I doubt it. There’s a scout or a defensive guru who did not do his job.

      • jarathen - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:34 AM

        Toronto shifts as well. I’ve certainly seen them do it against the Angels.

      • cur68 - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:09 AM

        Yep. Lawrie heads over into the shift. He makes a hyperactive play of it and throws Ortiz out by a mile (then douches around the infield while strutting back to 3rd). No so much a “shift” as a “multiple gear change, power drift through the intersection, floor it on the way out, cut off a little old lady; just to get a can of corn from the corner store”.

      • 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Didn’t know douche could be used as a verb. Thanks!

      • cur68 - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM

        Its all Brett Lawrie, man. Phenomenal athlete with a hyperactivity disorder. He can douche his way through breakfast, I bet.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:11 PM

        While I agree with your general point in regards to the shift…he is hitting lasers everywhere. Take away Beltrans catch and he has made what? 3 outs?
        David Ortiz is pissing all over your shift 18th. Lol!

  14. jarathen - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I understand you don’t want to micromanage your team all season long, but this approach during the playoffs doesn’t work. You need to manage every game like it’s an elimination match, and going with your ace starter might work out more often than not during the long slog just fine. But once you’re in a best of three against the other best team in baseball, manage the game like it.

  15. jeffthomasb - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Apart from some slight misjudgment on the part of Matheney, what this series has come down to is that the Cards are being seriously outplayed by two guys– Ortiz and Lester. FOX showed the graphic last night late in the game: Ortiz: .733, rest of team: .156. You remove Ortiz from the mix and you have the same number (or fewer) Red Sox getting on base than Cardinals. Lester shuts the Cards down in Games 1 and 5, two of the three Red Sox wins. You put someone out there who’s even slightly more wobbly, and the results (of Game 5 in particular) could be very different.

    My point here is that, although I stand by my original prediction of Sox in 6, this series has been pretty much neck and neck. You have pitching this good across the board (with the exception of Wainwright’s innings 1 and 2 in game one), this is the kind of series you’ll get. One defensive miscue decides a game. A baserunning gaffe. I’d love to hear people stop complaining about what a lousy WS this has been. These are still the two best teams in baseball, and they’re showing how evenly matched they are.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Acknowledging there’s a lot of truth in that batting average statistic: Ortiz amazing; everyone else, not. That said:

      I’ve given up being annoyed with Fox’s statistical stupidity. I watch the games with baseball-reference open and’s GameDay running. McCarver and Buck just don’t know anything. Last night, they said Ortiz is a pretty fast runner. BrooksBaseball said they were calling pitchers that were cutters as curveballs (and GameDay agreed.) They said Middlebrooks is a very good fielder. They refuse to acknowledge anyone’s limitations: Ellsbury is one of my favorites, but he struggles against lefties. Does Fox know that? Because the only thing they can say about the guy is that he steals lots of bases. Xander Boegarts is one of the most dynamic young players to shine in the playoffs since … someone tell me, because I don’t know any team as well as I know the Red Sox, so I’ll say Ellsbury in 2007. So instead of ever mentioning that everyone seems to think he’s one of the best prospects in baseball or why they’d think that (it’s not just poise!), they’ve mentioned 12 times that he speaks four languages and that he’s from Aruba. What do you need to know about Jonny Gomes? He’s from Paloma, CA! He’s a winner! Argh.

      They keep talking about errors and earned runs, despite the fact that in THESE playoffs specifically, you can point to the Myers “double” and Wainwright letting a pop-up drop as memorable plays that didn’t count as errors.

      And as much as everyone wants to pile on McCarver and Buck — and so do I — the real issue is FOX, who thinks that this is what baseball fans wants to know.

      • skids003 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Maybe MSNBC should cover the World Series, they do a real good job with “facts.”

      • 18thstreet - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        As many objections as I have to FoxNews and the Murdoch empire in general, you’re grasping at straws. This isn’t a political thing.

  16. danaking - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    “I’m not going to blame Matheny for letting Wainwright face Ross; even if Martinez was a better choice in that spot, a move to pull the ace then would have been a true surprise. But leaving him in to face Ellsbury was a bad call. ”

    This is why I spend less time on baseball blogs than I used to. It used to be writers had opinions; now their opinions are stated as facts.

  17. jgillmeister - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    According to the Pythagorean Standings, Matheny cost his team four wins in the 2013 regular season and 7 wins in the 2012 season. Based on that, its not a surprise that he is struggling in the WS

  18. chiadam - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    The World Series has been a marathon of bad decisions by both managers and more than a few players, which is unfortunate since it’s the effing World Series.

  19. yousuxxors - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    a lot of these articles after the games questioning the managers reminds me of the captain hindsight episode of south park

  20. moogro - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    A lot of people seem to confuse foresight to hindsight around here.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      That’s because most of them have their sight and fore stuck to their hindquarters.

  21. swmocardsfan - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    I for one am not blaming Matheny for their current position. Matheny is, after all, only a second year manager. He is going to make mistakes, but as someone earlier pointed out, the Cardinals have found a horrible time for the bats to go silent and Boston didnt get the best record in the AL by accident. They are pretty stinkin good. So bad hitting against a red hot team and David Ortiz who is absolutely a monster this series equals a 3-2 hole. They are lucky to this point to have a shot with Wacha tomorrow night to hopefully force a game 7 because Boston could have easily already been planning a parade.

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