The Royals announced Thursday that they’ve hired Mike Matheny as the 17th manager in club history. It’s not exactly a surprise, given that Matheny has been rumored to be the likely successor to Ned Yost since joining the Royals organization as a special advisor to GM Dayton Moore last offseason. Matheny replacing the recently retired Yost has looked all the more like a fait accompli with the Kansas City organization opting not to interview any external candidates for the position.
“Our entire organization is delighted to announce and celebrate the hiring of Mike Matheny,” Moore said in a statement announcing the hiring. “Every department has had the pleasure to work and interact with him this past season. Through this interaction, it became very clear to our leadership team that Mike is the obvious person to lead our baseball team. Mike Matheny is a passionate leader with strong virtues, intelligence, and a relentless commitment to help players reach their full potential.”
Matheny, 49, spent 13 seasons as a big league catcher with the Brewers, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Giants and was hired to manage in St. Louis following the 2011 season despite a lack of coaching/managerial experience. Matheny took the reins from retiring Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa, inheriting a roster that had just won the 2011 World Series.
St. Louis went on to post a winning record in each of Matheny’s six full seasons as a manager and even had a 47-46 record when he was fired midway through the 2018 campaign. In all, he posted a 591-474 record in St. Louis and was at the helm for three consecutive NL Central titles from 2013-15. Matheny’s 2013 Cardinals advanced to the World Series before falling to the Red Sox in six games, and the 2014 Cards made it as far as the NLCS before falling victim to the Giants’ “even year” dynasty that captured World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The 2015 Cardinals won 100 games but were bounced in the NLDS by the division-rival Cubs.
The Cardinals didn’t make the postseason again under Matheny, who was ousted by the organization in a radical shakeup near the midpoint of the 2018 season. For all of his success in terms of wins and losses, Matheny also drew criticism for his bullpen management and an aversion to modern data trends. He was known as a manager who rode the “hot hand” frequently — often at the expense of providing consistent playing time to younger players. Shortly before his 2018 dismissal, reports of clubhouse strife between veterans and rookies emerged, although then-rookie right-hander Jordan Hicks quickly downplayed them when asked by reporters.
At the time of his firing, the Cardinals were a game above .500 but also looked to be in danger of missing the postseason for what would be a third consecutive season. That hadn’t happened in 20 years in St. Louis, giving the organization understandably higher expectations than most organizations throughout the league — particularly in the era of the ever-trendy rebuild.
Those standards won’t apply in Kansas City — at least not in the early stages of Matheny’s tenure. The Royals are still in the midst of what looks to be a lengthy rebuilding process and aren’t expected to return to contention until at least 2021, if not the 2022 season. Rather, Matheny’s focus with his new club will be on helping to develop young players and helping them to maximize their potential at the MLB level.
Rising talents like Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier will join steady veterans such as Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield as the top players on a 2020 roster that will ideally see several top prospects graduate from the minors for their first taste of MLB action. Pitchers Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch could all debut this coming season, as could outfielder Khalil Lee. The 2020 season will also be a pivotal year for former prospects like Nicky Lopez, Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips, who’ve had some experience in the big leagues but have yet to establish themselves.
Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com first reported that Matheny was being hired (via Twitter).
Shockerrrrrr. Stove is hottttt
Wow that came out of nowhere, a complete shocker
Good luck to him. He may have had ups and downs as manager in St. Louis but he always seemed like a good dude.
If you ignore every ex-player’s testimony about how he made life miserable for non-veterans and encouraged hazing then yeah he seems wonderful.
Awwww the poor babies don’t like the mean man so he’s not qualified to manage. You buy everything you read?
Well as soon as his toxic environment was gone the Cardinals went on a run and with a full season of Schildt they made the playoffs for the 1st time in 3 years.
Just responding to the part about him seeming like a good dude take it easy. But also yes I would say if your players don’t like you then you aren’t qualified to manage.
OK, but you can’t watch the Cardinals at all and think they dominated their way in. This was far from a competent manager job. Shildt is just as bad, he just has some actual hitting firepower on his team (although the coaches still somehow screwed it up).
You make it sound like it was a long drought.
This team is objectively worse than any team matheny had. You are an idiot
Made life miserable for non veterans….how? Making them work for a spot? Heaven forbid if some young guy has to work for something. And if this is about hazing or some stupid tradition then what does that have to do with his qualifications?
Looking at direct quotes from guys like Fowler, Pham, Wong, etc., they felt that not even hard work and production got them into Matheny’s oddly rewarded lineups. Again, I was responding to the previous comment about Matheny seeming like a good dude, so it has nothing to do with his qualifications.
To be fair, none of those guys deserved more playing time than they got on a club that was constantly contending.
Fowler started as often as he could in 2017 but spent three different stints on the DL. Fowler was absolutely awful in 2018 and fully deserved to be benched. I don’t know what Schildt was thinking actually playing him over Bader when he was first hired. I cheered when Fowler broke his foot and forced Schildt’s hand. Fowler had to win back his job in 2019 and did so with an overall decent year.
Pham was either injured or deservedly blocked until he finally got his chance. Once he did, both Matheny and Schildt gave him full playing time until he was traded.
Wong has always been inconsistent offensively, and before 2019 he was also defensively inconsistent with his tendency to screw up routine plays. Therefore, he fully deserved inconsistent playing time on teams that were trying to compete. His bat got hot in the 2nd half of 2018, at which point he deservedly got most of the playing time at 2B during an attempted run at the playoffs. Despite the managerial change, his change in playing time was still mostly based on merit. You may denounce it as “riding the hot hand,” but that’s exactly what a contending team is supposed to do in the 2nd half of the season when trying to make the playoffs! In 2019, Wong cleaned up his defense, which allowed him to be the full-time starter at 2B all season long despite his inconsistent hitting during the first half before his bat once again got hot during the second half, again a fully merit-based decision.
I kinda like this move tbh
stan lee the manly
Yikes, tough day to be a Royals fan…
Vandals Took The Handles
This reminds me of a case in another sport……
Bill Belichick coached the NLF Browns for 5 years. While the team showed strength at times, overall the locker room was a mess. Half the players couldn’t stand playing for him, not sure what it was they were supposed to be doing.
So Belichick went back to the job that made him famous – a Defensive Coordinator with his friend and mentor – Bill Parcells. The Giants were successful, winning a Super Bowl. Belichick watched Parcells and learned about managing players. When Parcells retired Belichick spurned a Giants offer to be HC and went to the Patriots. Due to his longevity he’s now recognized as not just the premier pro football coach of the last 20-30 years, but one of the best – if not THE best – in history.
Maybe Dayton Moore can work with Metheny as Parcells worked with Belichick. But Belichick spent FIVE years in his 2nd stint as a DC with Parcells. Metheny spent only one year in the Royals organization after leaving the Cardinals.
Fact is that Metheny has shown an inability to mange people or to strategize during games. Royals fans are going to have to have a lot of faith in Dayton Moore here. Either this will work out beyond most people expectations, or in 3 years the Royals will be where the Pirates are today.
Chris from NJ
Belicheck was the Def coordinator with Giants before he was the coach of the browns. They hired him after the Giants beat buffalo in the super bowl. He then went to Cleveland. Parcells retired and Belicheck never got the chance to coach the Giants. After the browns fired Belicheck he went to New England with parcells and then the Jets. Parcells tried to tamper with Belicheck going to New England. Matheny and Belicheck are far from comparable.
Mendoza Line 215
Vandals-Odd final comparison.
The Pirates won ten more games than the Royals did this year.
Perhaps you meant starting from scratch.
Not happy about this at all. So many better options out there. It’s really tough to be a Royals fan.
This is actually a good thing really for us. He did good in STL. Why not in KC
If he “did good” in STL he would still be there. He NEVER made the playoffs. Guess you have a low bar
You have a strange definition of “never” considering the Cardinals’ playoff appearances from 2012-15.
Yea, that´s what I´m saying about this. I was trying to make a point for everybody. They don´t understand that he was a pretty good manager with STL.
He made the playoffs his first 3 seasons…. I attribute that to inheriting a world series team though. He was terrible at managing pitchers. He didn’t give players consistent lineups. When I say that I mean he had a new lineup almost every single day. He seemed like a decent person, but his managing style did not do well with the young talent.
Yep, true about the pitching. That´s why we need a good bullpen/pitching coach also. So I hope we get another coach for pitching/bullpen. We got a good hitting coach at least. About the line-ups he wants all 25 of his players to play. He doesn´t like to sit players out and that´s very good sportsmanship. Am i right???
He can also help Salvy at catching too and keep him healthy because he was a big league catcher himself. He played with the Atlanta Braves for 13 years so he´s got some experience.
Well… that came out of nowhere. I didn’t read a single article about it!
Good news to every team that plays the Royals this year. Your manager can take the series off and pull an 8 year old out of the stands to out manage this tool.
That’s the absolute worst hire they could have made! It’s a sad day for Royals fans! All the young arms will be ruined from over use and good young players will never get on the field in favor of Mikes veteran guy’s no matter how bad they are! Damn this sucks!
Which is it? Will the young arms get overused or will they never get on the field?
I’m afraid about the young arms getting overused…. I recall that we shut down Brad Keller in late August because of some arm soreness….Right now the Royals can’t afford to have anyone having to have Tommy John. It’s bad enough we had lost Salvy this past season Because he had to have it.
Vandals Took The Handles
What young arms?
Keller is the only starting pitcher on that staff that looks like an average ML pitcher. The only reliever that showed any consistency was Kennedy, and he’s radically overpaid for what he produces…..so they’ll try to move him this off-season.
The Royals pitching is so bad that I had to stop watching their games some time in late-April / early-May.
the young arms coming up in the next two or three years?
I’m not sure if they’ll try to trade Kennedy considering the bullpen is still a HUGE issue.
Matheny has his issues, but his problems with bullpen management are overblown (not that they don’t exist on some level, though). During the later years of his tenure, he had bullpens that ranged from very mediocre to just awful. While it may have caused long-term issues, he pretty much had to overuse the few guys he could trust while managing contending teams just to rack up as many wins as he could while attempting to make the playoffs. Otherwise, the 2016-18 teams wouldn’t have finished as close to playoff spots as they did and may not have even had winning records. Even Shildt basically did the same thing with his 2018 bullpen after he was hired. Once the Cardinals actually got a good bullpen in 2019, it was much easier to manage and spread out the playing time no matter who was in charge.
Since the Royals aren’t contending yet, Matheny can afford to let any talented young bullpen arms develop without overusing them no matter how many games the bullpen blows in the process. Therefore, I think we’ll see at least a partial change in how Matheny manages his bullpen next season.
Yost had his issues before coming to Kansas City and that turned out pretty well. Similar to Yost, Moore gave Matheny a year to tour the minor leagues and see the talent first hand.
Get ready royals fans for some very boring baseball
Is he doing it for free or something? What an awful hire. I feel bad for Royals fans who deserve a lot better than this.
Congratulations to Matheny. Wish him the best as the Kansas City Royals manager.
No surprise, and no strong feelings on the hire one way or the other. Matheny put up a .555 winning percentage with generally good Cardinal teams, which suggests he didn’t get in the way of the talent most of the time. He wore out his welcome, but every manager does that sooner or later.
The Royals are a long way from contention under any manager. That -178 run diff is a deep hole to climb out of. Especially with a so-so minor league system at best.
Didn’t he inherit Tony La Russa’s crew of players?
Well, yeah, La Russa was the Cardinal manager before him, so Matheny “inherited” the roster when he started in 2012. Like any team the Cardinals changed a lot over Matheny’s 6 1/2 year tenure. The front office did a generally good job of keeping the team competitive, and Matheny put up winning records with the talent.
He never won the Series, though, while the hated Cubs won it all in 2016. So he was on thin ice the last couple years, and he finally got the ax. My guess is that he’ll do a competent job with the Royals, who are nowhere near contention right now.
Vandals Took The Handles
The biggest problem is that during that era, Jeff Luhnow left the organization to run the Astros. He had been responsible for coordinating and doing the drafting, as well as having input on signings and trades.
Considering what’s happened in Houston and St. Louis since, it appears that Mr. Luhnow was the one that unearthed the talent flowing into the Cardinals farm system and ML roster during La Russa’s late tenure and the beginning of Matheny’s. The quality of young Cardinals prospects while above ML average, is no where near what it was when Luhnow was finding it.
I’ve really got noting positive to say about Matheny, other tan he can take a fastball to the face and finish the AB.
I guess, at least him managing in the AL might lead him to make fewer pitching changes?
Dayton did you make this bone head hire? I am a supporter of yours but if it was your decision then you should be fored when Metheny is fired
About 2 years
If he’s not fored, he should at least be fived…….
What in the Arkansas?
I mean, things can’t really get worse, can they? So what the heck?
Thought Josh Hamilton was the front runner. welp, looks like he’ll manage the Mets now!
an odd hire for a rebuilding club. But maybe he’s changed a bit and will give young guys playing time
Well, the thing is, when you’re managing a rebuilding club rather than a club that’s constantly in contention, you can actually afford to give more playing time to young guys who haven’t yet fully established themselves. Most of Matheny’s lineup decisions with the Cardinals were based on merit while trying to make the playoffs. When youngsters like Piscotty and DeJong proved themselves, Matheny did play them, and he was also willing to bench them again when deserved as with Aledmys Diaz.
Now that he managing a rebuilding team, he will probably be more patient with the youngsters.
Actually I expect singer, Kowar and Lynch to be part of a really good rotation in AA. That group needs to be able to win a championship in AA. I’m not sure if all three will make their debuts in 2020, maybe 2021. I would not want them to be exposed to this new manager…Who allows bullying And had a toxic clubhouse environment!
Well, looks like the Royals are going for the #1 overall draft pick
The Royals aren’t winning in 2020 or 2021. Matheny is a placeholder who’s job is to help the younger players. Whether he’s the right guy for that particular job is another story. He has nothing to lose with a team not ready to win yet.
From most of what I saw with the Cardinals, Matheny has a huge bias for experience over youth… If helping the young guys along is the goal, this may well end up as a disappointing hire for KC.
Yes, because the Cardinals were in win-now mode with a GM having some say in the matter. Royals situation is different. This isn’t to say he will go back to favoring the vets over the younger up-and-comers. If he does that’s more a reflection on the GM hiring Matheny knowing his plan prior to the hiring.
MT in Baltimore
The Royals whiffed on this in a big way.
They could have and should have hired Buck Showalter..
Matheny will steer that ship awkwardly and aimlessly for 3-4 years and then he will get fired and then they will have lost their re-build.
I guess Bob Brenly wasn’t available?
Well he can manage them until they’re ready to start winning again
believe me skeptical Royals fans, you’ll be happy about this move soon enough.
No they won’t.
He’s right, Mathany had a couple of good years in STL. He will do good in KC.
Hypothetically if Matheny is a dud for two seasons and KC regresses, welcome to the #1 or #2 overall pick. Royals fans might be happy about that.
With Salvy back next year I think they’ll have the fifth overall pick at the end of 2020. Detroit is still a mess and so is Miami.
Matheny will do good in KC because he was good in STL. He started with them in 2012. They were 88-74 in 2nd, 2013 they were 97-65 in 1st, 2014 they were 90-72 in 1st, 2015 they were 100-62 in 1st,, 2016 they were 86-76 in 2nd and in 2017 they were 83-79 in 3rd. That’s not a bad manager pick for KC Royals. Good pick Kansas City.
Not all veterans liked playing for Matheny. several free agents that the Cardinals went after wouldn’t come to St Louis. Jason Heyward wouldn’t stay even the the cardinals offered more money. Unless your in his click he isnt liked much by the players.
True, the only thing about all of this, he can prove us all wrong and the KC Royals win it all or they loose 100 games. We have to see what happens.
Just seems like there are better options. Although I shouldn’t be surprised after the padres going the odd route
Hahahaha this guys is a trash manager. Racist too.
I love this hiring simply because I hate K.C. This man does not have a winners approach to today’s game. I was a huge fan of the Cardinals hiring him initially. Simply put, he just never developed and was the largest reason we lost the 2013 World Series. Maybe he figured some things out over time, but for now, I love this hiring.