The Kansas City Royals front office hired former Mike Matheny as a Special Advisor to Player Development with one thing in mind, grooming him to become the next manager of the Royals when Ned Yost decided to step away.
Since the announcement of Ned Yost’s retirement, the Royals have been heavily rumored to be leaning toward hiring former St. Louis Cardinals manager and current Royals Special Advisor to Player Development Mike Matheny.
Jeffrey Flanagan, who covers the Royals for mlb.com recently provided an update on the manager deliberation,
The Royals continue their deliberate approach toward finding a new manager to replace the retired Ned Yost, and it is believed they already have interviewed internal candidates bullpen coach Vance Wilson, catching coach Pedro Grifol and special advisor to player development Mike Matheny.
The polarizing Matheny remains the most likely candidate to fill the Royals managerial vacancy. What does Matheny bring to the table as a manager for the Royals?
Mike Matheny took over as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 after the retirement of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. Matheny managed the St. Louis Cardinals to a 591-474 record until he was fired midway thru the 2018 season.
Matheny managed the Cardinals to winning season in each of years he was at the helm which included trips to the playoffs each year between 2012 – 2015. The Cardinals, under Matheny, won the NL Pennant in 2013 and Matheny finished in the top five for manager of the year award each year between 2012 – 2015 (finishing as high as second in 2015).
With this kind of success, what happened to cause Matheny’s departure from the Cardinals in 2018 (after signing an extension thru 2020)?
The simple answer to his downfall in St. Louis was clubhouse disorder and mismanagement of prospects creating a poor environment for development. Sports Illustrated wrote a lengthy piece about Matheny’s failure as a manager and I don’t disagree with their assessment. Communication is the most important tool for a MLB manager and when communication breaks down in the clubhouse changes need to be made.
The mismanagement of prospects claim comes from Matheny sending down developing prospects Randall Grichuk and Kolten Wong, who were struggling to find confidence at the MLB level. Since the Cardinals are expected to be in contention each year, there is likely a higher stress environment to perform on a daily basis.