Mozeliak Did Look at Outside Hires For Manager: ’We Could Not Do Better’

"The relationship he has with our players and our coaching staff as well as our front office and our ownership, it just made this a very seamless decision." 

August 28, 2018 - 6:31 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The St. Louis Cardinals believe there was no candidate out there better than Mike Shildt as manager of this club. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak says he was checking on his "list" of inside and outside hires since mid July, but as he watched St. Louis become the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star Break, his decision was made. 

"As we stated from Day 1, we were going to use this as a time to see really how he handled the job," Mozeliak says. "After speaking with Bill (DeWitt Jr.) over the past week, we just could not do better. And Mike has shown, as we've always said, he's checking a lot of boxes along the way, but clearly the relationship he has with our players and our coaching staff as well as our front office and our ownership, it just made this a very seamless decision." 

The announcement of dropping "interim" from Shildt's title and rewarding him with a contract as manager through the 2020 season was made Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Mozeliak, along with Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager Mike Girsch were seated with Shildt at the press conference. 

One of the biggest question marks about Shildt taking over as permanent manager was the fact that he never played in the majors or even minor league baseball. Not since Stan Robinson in 1905 have the Cardinals hired a mananger without professional baseball experience. 

But DeWitt Jr. pointed out how the value of being a former player has subsided for other "managment positions" like GM, farm director and scourting director. 

"He's the manager, he's not playing, but he understands the game, he grew up in the game," DeWitt Jr. says. "He managed in the minor leagues and it shows. He has in our view done an excellent job. 

"In fact, when Mike (Shildt) was coming through the system we would talk and I would say, 'Seems to me like we've got a managerial prospect at the major league level.' But of course those questions come up, well he didn't play. Doesn't matter. You do the job and he's done the job." 

Although Shildt seemed to hate to show even the slighest bit of grandstanding, he admitted there was a point in his 13 years in the Cardinals scouting, player development and minor league coaching career that he believed he had the skills to manage in the big leagues. He remembered the thought crept up before his first year managing the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds in 2015.  

Related story: Stubby Clapp Repeats as PCL Manager of the Year

"I didn't give it a lot of thought because again, it's not productive thinking about things you can't control and it's not about me, it's about this organization," Shildt says. "There was time when I looked up and felt like I had the skill set and the understanding of the game that I could possible do it. But it didn't go beyond a fleeting thought." 

That fleeting thought has become reality.

After Shildt recieved the news – which Mozeliak says he was suprised to hear how surprised Shildt was to receive the promotion – the new manager's first phone call was to his biggest Cardinals mentor, minor league field coordinator Mark DeJohn. He was the one who first escorted Shildt into the Cardinals organization through scouting in 2005 and continued to pass along advice to Shildt during his rise through the player development and coaching ranks. 

"I wouldn't be sitting here without his guidance and his love," Shildt says. 

The second phone call Shildt says he made was to his mom. 

"I didn't want to interrupt her nap," Shildt says. "I called her after that and it was emotional and obviously prideful and she was beyond excited." 

Shildt credits his parents, especially his mother, with his baseball love. She worked for a Double-A team in Charlotte, N.C. during his youth. She was also one of his first calls when he was promoted to interim manager in July.