ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — In a stunning turn of events Thursday, Mike Shildt is out as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced the shocking news during a Zoom press conference Thursday afternoon.
"We have determined that we have a philosophical difference in the direction our Major League club is going," Mozeliak said. "But ultimately we feel like this is something we had to do."
The puzzling move comes on the heels of a September run that saw the Cardinals rip off a franchise-best 17-straight wins to propel the club into a wild card berth. The Cardinals felt such urgency in the matter that the organization requested special permission from MLB to announce the move on the same day as a winner-take-all postseason game.
Such news would typically wait for a later window in order to keep all the attention around the sport focused on the field. Nevertheless, MLB granted the request to set in motion a wild Thursday in Cardinals Nation.
Mike Shildt became interim manager of the Cardinals in the middle of 2018 after Mike Matheny was let go. The interim tag was later removed, making him the team’s full-time manager. In his first season as the full-time manager in 2019, Shildt guided the Cardinals to the NLCS and won NL Manager of the Year honors. The Cardinals reached the postseason in each of Shildt's three seasons as the full-time manager.
All of those facts contribute to the shocking nature of Thursday's revelation that Shildt would not be the team’s manager heading into the 2022 season. While declining to delve deeper into the philosophical chasm that had emerged between Shildt and the organization, Mozeliak repeatedly stressed an opaque, big-picture narrative as to the development of those differences.
"This is not a reflection simply on wins and losses," Mozeliak said. "It's not simply a question of, are you happy with how the game was managed? It really was more at a higher level of where we saw the team going and where we wanted it to go."
Mozeliak reiterated that Thursday's move was a strictly a baseball decision, which makes the club's press conference reticence—beyond even that of their usual tight-lipped approach—all the more curious. Mozeliak did describe the realization that a new direction was necessary became apparent only in recent days, as opposed to the notion of friction that had built up over the course of time. Regarding the remainder of the Major League coaching staff, Mozeliak seemed optimistic the club would retain the bulk of that group, including hitting coach Jeff Albert.
"As of right now Jeff Albert is under contract, so I would expect him to be back," Mozeliak said when asked whether differences in philosophy between Albert and Shildt had anything to do with Thursday's decision. "In terms of that being the sole reason for this decision, the answer is no."
Mozeliak's inclusion of the word "sole" in that last sentence could be considered noteworthy.
Mozeliak described that Shildt was "very shocked" by the revelation that the baseball lifer—who joined the Cardinals as a scout in 2004 before working his way through the ranks to become a big-league manager—was no longer a member of the St. Louis organization. Shildt has not yet commented publicly following the revelation of the news.
"People evolve, people change, ideas change, philosophies change," Mozeliak said. "Ultimately it's Bill's responsibility, my responsibility to try to keep the organization going directionally where we'd like it."