Mike Shildt was dismissed as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, despite a team-record 17-game winning run that led to an MLB wild-card spot.
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, claimed “philosophical disagreements” as the reason for Shildt’s departure. He wouldn’t go into detail about the discrepancies, stating only that the move was “something that came up lately.”
Shildt was entering the last year of his contract, but Mozeliak claimed that wasn’t the only reason for the split. After the 2019 season, Shildt signed a three-year deal.
“All I can say is that we were battling to be on the same page,” Mozeliak said of the team’s direction. “We could have gone into 2022 with that over him since he had one year left on his contract, but we simply felt that internally it would be better to split now and take a fresh look as we go into a new season.”
Mozeliak refused to comment on potential successors, but said there are plenty of internal possibilities. He expects the coaches who are still under contract to return next season.
“As I previously said, 2021 was a huge success, and it’s something that all of us who worked on it are very proud of,” Mozeliak added. “It’s something to be proud of when your team goes on a 17-game winning run and really makes history for your company. These choices aren’t always made just on the basis of the season. More to the point, it’s about where we want to go in terms of direction.”
Mike Shildt’s career was not saved by the Cardinals’ unexpected September run to a wild-card spot. Photo courtesy of AP/Marcio Sanchez
Shildt and the rest of the coaching staff met with Mozeliak on Friday, but the two did not meet again until Mozeliak notified Shildt of his dismissal.
“He was extremely surprised,” Mozeliak said when asked about the manager’s reaction. “I’m not going to go into who I talked with or the specifics of how I came to this conclusion.”
Shildt, 53, has led the Cardinals to the playoffs three years, notably in 2021, when they finished with a 90-72 record after riding a three-game winning run in September. In the wild-card game, the St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers on a walk-off home run.
It’s unusual for teams to dismiss managers on the same day as a postseason game, but the Dodgers and Giants will play the deciding game of their divisional series late Thursday. However, Mozeliak and Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. felt that making the transaction right now was essential enough to seek approval from Major League Baseball.
“I believe Mo stated it best: This is based on disagreements between Mo and his group and the management, and it has nothing to do with this year,” DeWitt said. “Continuity is important to me, but only if we’re heading in the correct path. This was a choice that everyone agreed on, and that’s how it went down.”
Shildt guided the Cardinals to the National League Central championship in 2019, earning him the NL Manager of the Year award, but they were swept by the Washington Nationals in the NL Championship Series. In 2020, his club lost a wild-card series against the San Diego Padres.
When Mike Matheny was dismissed in July 2018, he was handed the position on an interim basis and became the 50th manager in Cardinals history. A month later, the club removed the temporary designation.
Shildt entered the Cardinals organization in 2004 as a scout, despite never having played in the minors or majors. Before being appointed manager, the North Carolina native spent the most of his career managing in the minors and was a part of the team’s big league coaching staff for two seasons.
“There are reasons for what we do,” Mozeliak said. “What path we’re trying to go in is something we prefer to keep secret anyhow,” he says, “but the overall health of this club — we feel very positive as we look forward to 2022, and we just felt that the leadership downstairs needed to be on the same page.”
This article was written with the help of the Associated Press.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did the St Louis Cardinals fire their manager?
The St Louis Cardinals fired their manager because he did not perform well in the 2018 season.
Did the Cardinals fire their manager?
No, the Cardinals have not fired their manager.
Who is the Cardinals manager?
The Cardinals manager is Mike Matheny.