By Rob Rains
Former Cardinals manager Mike Shildt acknowledged Monday that “differences” of opinion played a role in his surprising dismissal from the organization last week but did not go into any detail.
In a zoom session with invited media, Shildt read a statement that offered thanks to his family, the Cardinals and his former coaches, co-workers and the players he worked with during his 18 years in the organization.
He briefly addressed his ouster as the team’s manager after 3 ½ successful seasons and referenced his long tenure with the organization after first being hired as a scout, by John Mozeliak, before the 2004 season, when he began to work his way up the ranks as a minor-league coach and manager before joining the major-league staff in 2017.
“At every turn I wanted to be a good caretaker of the Cardinals’ legacy,” Shildt said. “I invested my heart and soul and most of my professional career in helping to maintain and be a part of an organization that I cared more about than I cared about my own career.
“I was taught not to talk out of school and while clearly there were differences that led to this parting of ways, out of respect to the organization and the people who run it I can only express my gratitude. All of the philosophies that were shared over the many years most of us were together allowed us to part ways as professional friends. What differences there were will remain unsaid publicly by me.”
Some of the tension that was believed to have developed this season between the Cardinals’ front office and Shildt concerned the use of analytics, as well as the performance of hitting coach Jeff Albert.
When Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations, addressed the media after firing Shildt over the telephone, he acknowledged that Shildt’s relationship with Albert was not the only reason for the decision. He said the decision was based on “philosophical differences” but he also declined to cite specific examples.
Shildt’s statement came four days after his abrupt dismissal, which sources said “blindsided”him. He did not take any questions from the media.
Shildt spent most of his time during the approximately 10-minute statement thanking all of the people that he worked with, including special mentions to longtime mentors Mark DeJohn and Gary LaRocque and bench coach Oli Marmol, who is one of the candidates to be the next manager.
About Marmol, Shildt said he “has my deepest and most trusted respect.”
Shildt signed Marmol out of college when he was a scout and the two have been close friends ever since.
He became emotional when thanking his wife, Michele, whom he married during spring training in 2020, and his stepdaughters.
Shildt, 53, talked briefly about his future and his desire to continue working in the game.
“I am at peace with the way I left the players and the staff in a very positive position,” he said. “I’m excited about the team in 2022. As for me, I look forward to connecting with my family and I definitely look forward to the next opportunity in baseball which I am sure will be many and help grow the players and our great game we all love dearly.”
The San Diego Padres reportedly plan to interview Shildt for their managerial opening. The only other team currently without a manager is the New York Mets.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals search to find the successor to Shildt has begun with the two leading candidates believed to be current coaches Marmol and Stubby Clapp, the first base coach.
Both have experience managing in the minor leagues, but Marmol has not managed about Class A while Clapp had two successful years in charge of the Cardinals’ Triple A team in Memphis before he was promoted to the major-league coaching staff.
Also believed to be on the list of people the Cardinal want to interview is former Cardinal Skip Schumaker, who was the associate manager of the Padres this season.
This will be the third time Mozeliak has hired a manager since taking over for Walt Jocketty as the general manager in 2008. He inherited Tony La Russa in the job, then hired Mike Matheny after La Russa retired following the 2011 world championship season. Mozeliak then promoted Shildt to the job when he fired Matheny in July of 2018.
To hear Mike Shildt reading the statement as well as interview with Rob Rains and Frank Cusumano discussion: CLICK HERE
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports