(BaseballStL) -- He’s been on the job for just two years, but Mike Matheny is quickly becoming one of the best managers in baseball. Matheny has led the Cardinals back to the postseason, after a trip to Game 7 of the NLCS a year ago. Matheny won 88 games last season, after taking over a World Championship team managed by Tony LaRussa. Matheny and the Cards now have their first division title since 2009, and the National League’s best record at 97-65.
Matheny was able to navigate his team through some season long injuries, starting with the loss of closer Jason Motte. Matheny used Edward Mujica as Motte’s replacement, and he was rewarded with Mujica becoming an All-Star with 37 saves. There was some bullpen drama early on with the struggles of Mitchell Boggs, who was eventually traded to Colorado. Mujica also had his own problems closing games down the stretch. However, Matheny adjusted once again, and he’s now assigned fireballer Trevor Rosenthal as the team’s closer heading into the postseason.
The Cards lost Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Rafeal Furcal for the year. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Allen Craig missed big chunks of the season. But Matheny was not afraid to trust the young guys, as 20 different rookies made their debuts for the Redbirds. Here’s Matheny’s chief competition for the N.L. Manager of the Year Award:
Who are you rooting for in the NL Wild Card game? Share your thoughts.
Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates): When you lead your team to its first playoff appearance in 21 years, you have to be considered the favorite to win the Manager of the Year. Clint Hurdle provided hope for a city that’s used to watching Steelers games in October. Hurdle led the Pirates to quick starts over the past two seasons, but only to see the Bucs fade in the second half in each of the last 2 years. Even if its just for that one game playoff against the Reds, the Pirates have Pittsburgh buzzing thanks to Clint Hurdle.
Fredi Gonzalez (Atlanta Braves): The Braves got off a red hot start in the N.L East and never looked back. Just like Matheny, Gonzalez took over a team managed for years by a legend in Bobby Cox. The Braves also had their share of injuries to stars like Jason Heyward and Tim Hudson, but the Braves finished 30 games over .500 (96-66), and won the East by 10 games over Washington.
Don Mattingly (L.A Dodgers): On the final day of June, the Dodgers were in last place in the N.L West. However by July 22nd, L.A. led the divison. With injuries to Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, and Hanley Ramirez, Mattingly never panicked despite calls for his job. Mattingly also got a spark from rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, and amazing pitching from Clayton Kershaw.
Should Edward Mujica be on the post-season roster? Share your thoughts.