From 2,728 to 0

Replacing a legendary manager is never easy. Replacing a manager that won 2,728 games with one that has zero managerial experience (aside from a youth team) is plain crazy, right?

When the St. Louis Cardinals officially introduce Mike Matheny as tMatheny poses as a member of the San Francisco Giants (photo by Jared Kelly via Flickr)he manager tomorrow, they will hand the keys to the youngest active manager in the game.

Matheny is a bright man. His leadership skills surely stood out in his interview with GM John Mozeliak and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr.

I am unsure how to feel about the hire. Hiring coaches with zero professional experience is risky. Managing in the major leagues is not a typical day job. The required preparation is unmatched. Filling the shoes of Tony LaRussa, a Hall of Fame manager, is nearly impossible.

With that being said, Matheny’s intellect, and his overall knowledge of the organization will benefit him.

The point here is that hiring Matheny is dangerous. St. Louis has seen some ugly turnouts in hiring first time managers. Scott Linehan drove the Rams organization into a befuddling mess. Steve Spagnuolo is 10-31 in his two-plus seasons as a first-time head coach. The Blues just fired Davis Payne and replaced him with a Stanley Cup winner in Ken Hitchcock. Success at the highest level is difficult. Learning on the job is not acceptable. St. Louis prides itself in having the best fans and losing baseball will not be tolerated.

Terry Francona

Terry Francona (image via Wikipedia)

In no way am I saying the Matheny experience is going to cripple the organization, but I am also realistic in understanding the importance of having prior success and experience.

I trust Mozeliak. Lets give the man some credit. His deadline deals were imperative to the 2011 Championship run. Mozeliak interviewed six candidates. Of the six, only Terry Francona had big league experience. Francona’s two World Championships clearly distinguished his résumé. Ultimately, Mozeliak chose Matheny. Matheny played for St. Louis from 2000-2004 and has stayed intact as a special advisor and a participant on postgame shows. Matheny is a familiar face and understands the importance of the Cardinals in St. Louis.

To sit here and think that one could predict the outcome of Matheny’s tenure would be preposterous. Matheny walks into a special situation. The team will be built for another championship run. I know this much. Not many have the privilege to say they have out managed a big league manager … but I can. My team defeated Matheny’s in a 7-5 battle this summer in a Chesterfield youth league. Perhaps I should have had an interview with Mozeliak.

Realistically, as a Cardinal fan, I want Matheny to excel. He could manage in St. Louis for a long time if he succeeds. I would like to see the coaching staff stay intact and I believe it will. Matheny may not have the 33-year career of LaRussa, but he will certainly have his chance.

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