St. Louis fired former National League manager of the year Mike Shildt over organizational differences, just one week after his Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a walk-off homer in the wild-card game.
Cardinals president John Mozeliak said the firing was “something that popped up recently,” but he refused to expand on what he called “philosophical differences” between Shildt, the coaching staff, and the front office.
“All I can say is where we felt the team was going, we were struggling to get on the same page,” Mozeliak said. “With him having one year remaining on his contract, we could have gone into 2022 having that over him and we just decided that internally it would be best to separate now and take a fresh look as we head into a new season.”
It is exceptionally rare for clubs to fire managers the same day as a playoff game — the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played the decisive game in their divisional series late Thursday. But Mozeliak and Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. decided that it was important enough to seek permission from Major League Baseball to make the move immediately.
Mozeliak declined to discuss possible replacements, but he did say there are plenty of internal candidates. He said the coaches who remain under contract are expected to return next season.
“As I said before, 2021 was a real success and something that for all of us that were part of the organization, we take tremendous pride in,” Mozeliak said. “Any time you go on a 17-game winning streak and actually create history for your organization, it's something you take enormous pride in. A lot of times these decisions aren't based just on the season, more to the point it's directionally where we want to go.”
Mozeliak met with Shildt and the rest of the coaching staff Friday, but the two did not meet again until Mozeliak informed Shildt of his firing. When asked about the manager's response, Mozeliak replied: “He was very shocked.”
“I'm not going to get into who I spoke with or the details of how I got to this decision,” Mozeliak said.
Mozeliak actually hired Shildt as a scout in 2003, beginning his long rise through the closely knit organization. Shildt soon switched to player development and worked his way through various levels of the minor league system.
He was chosen to replace current Royals manager Mike Matheny on an interim basis in August 2018, then took over the permanent job the following season. The 2019 Cardinals won 91 games, earning Shildt the NL manager of the year, and advanced to the NL Championship Series before getting swept by the Nationals.
The Cardinals went 30-28 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, losing to the Padres in a first-round series, before riding that franchise-record 17-game streak to reach the wild-card game again this season.
Shildt finishes 255-199 in the regular season with St. Louis, giving him a winning percentage better than such luminaries as Branch Rickey and Tony La Russa.
“I think Mo said it well: This is based on differences between Mo and his group and the manager, and you know, it didn't have anything to do with this year,” DeWitt said. “I value continuity, but I value continuity if we're continuing to head in the right direction. This is a decision that everyone bought into and that's kind of how it played out.”
Report: Yankees fire three coaches, undecided on Aaron Boone
Hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere, and third-base coach Phil Nevin, won’t have their contracts renewed by the Yankees for 2022, according to multiple outlets confirming an initial report from The Athletic.
No decision has yet been made on the fate of manager Aaron Boone, whose four-year contract with the club expires at the end of the World Series. Both Thames and Pilittere were in the organization prior to Boone’s hiring, while Nevin was a longtime friend whom Boone brought in as third-base coach and confidant.
Speaking to the New York Post, Nevin said he was told his departure was not due to on-field performance. The Yankees had 22 runners thrown out at home in the regular season, tops in the majors, and Aaron Judge in arguably the most critical play of Boston’s 6-2 victory in the Wild Card Game.
“I love the players, love the relationships,’’ Nevin told the Post. “It’s just frustrating that the game has changed, and [those relationships are] not a priority to some new people in the game.”
New York, a preseason favorite to win the AL pennant, has made the playoffs each of the last five years but has not appeared in the World Series since winning it in 2009 under Joe Girardi.
Jorge Soler likely out for Atlanta in NLCS
Atlanta is preparing to play without outfielder Jorge Soler in the NL Championship Series as they await his clearance following his positive COVID-19 test.
The Braves worked out Thursday at Truist Park without Soler, who was pulled from the lineup for the clinching Game 4 of the NL Division Series against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Dansby Swanson replaced Soler as the leadoff hitter, Guillermo Heredia moved into the lineup in center field, and Cristian Pache took Soler’s spot on the 26-man roster.
Soler hit a combined .223 with 27 homers and 70 RBIs with Kansas City and Atlanta during the regular season.
“We want everybody there,” manager Brian Snitker said when asked about Soler, adding he “hated that he had to miss that” clinching game against the Brewers.
“I don’t know that this team has been dependent, as we’ve shown, on one guy all year, quite honestly. The guys keep playing the game. Would you like to have him? Yeah. If we don’t, so be it. Just go out and win however else we can.”
Soler has been vaccinated, but may not be cleared to return until after the best-of-seven NLCS. Snitker said he has not talked with Soler.
“We’ve got to approach it like I don’t know if he’ll be here for the NLCS,” Snitker said. “That’s how we have to approach it. Until he shows up and is cleared and does everything that MLB needs him to do, we’re going to look like it’s like he’s not going to be here.”
Tim Anderson backs another year of Tony La Russa
White Sox star Tim Anderson made clear he wants Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa to return for another season in Chicago.
“I want him to be back,” Anderson said Thursday. “At the end of the day, my decision doesn’t really matter. I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. ... I definitely want him in. I think he did a great job with the way he managed and just being open.”
La Russa’s future was a bit of a question mark after the White Sox were eliminated Tuesday by Houston in Game 4 of the AL Division Series. He said afterward it’s up to management first, and then the players. If they want him back, then “you check and see whether you got the desire to continue to manage, so I do.”
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf lured La Russa to Chicago for a second stint with the franchise, 10 years after La Russa retired following a World Series title with St. Louis in 2011. He turned 77 earlier this month.
“Everybody thought we weren’t going to get along,” said Anderson, who made his first All-Star team this season. “But overall, we were talking behind the scenes the whole time. Just for him, the players come first and he makes that known. We’re one big family.”