The Kansas City Royals have found their next manager, and residents of Missouri should be familiar with him. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has been picked to succeed Ned Yost as the Royals’ next manager, the team announced Thursday. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com was first to report the news.
Matheny, 49, spent seven seasons as the Cardinals’ manager from 2012-17. He compiled a 591-474 record with the team. Under Matheny, the Cardinals made the postseason four times. The team won the National League pennant in 2013, but fell to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.
After being fired by the Cardinals, Matheny joined the Royals in 2018. He was hired as a special adviser for player development, but his history as a manager suggested the Royals wanted Matheny to take over after Yost left.
Matheny will be walking into a much different situation with the Royals. When Matheny joined the Cardinals, the team was coming off a World Series victory. Matheny inherited a talented team from Tony La Russa, who retired following the 2011 season.
The Royals are the polar opposite of that. After winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals have been in steady decline. The team finished fourth in the American League Central in 2019, winning just 59 games.
With the Royals, Matheny will be tasked with overseeing the team’s rebuild and guiding the team back to contention. While the team isn’t expected to contend in 2020, the Royals aren’t bereft of talent. Infielder Adalberto Mondesi is among the most exciting young players in the game, former first-round pick Hunter Dozier is looking to build off a breakout season and Whit Merrifield is one of the best leadoff hitters around.
Will those players even be around by the time Matheny manages a regular-season game? Given the state of the team’s rebuild, both Dozier and Merrifield could be sent packing in the offseason. The 24-year-old Mondesi should stick around. He’s the one young star the team can build around.
Barring a shocking turnaround, the Royals will not be in contention for a few years. It will be up to Matheny to prove he’s the right manager to lead the team once it is ready for another playoff run. If not, then Matheny will babysit the youngsters during the bad seasons and find himself out of a job the instant the Royals have expectations again.
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