While a lot of people seem to be quick to hand over the Cardinals' managerial reigns to popular third base coach Jose Oquendo, it strikes me that we really don't know the answer to a very important question:
Does Oquendo want the job?
As far as I am aware, he has never come out and said so. And, while it may sound like a dream job -- at least in concept - to Cardinals fans all over the world, there are a lot of differences between being a well-respected coach and the final word on the Redbirds' play on the field.
Being the manager would be infinitely more stressful than Oquendo's job as third base coach. He takes a little heat now and then when he stops runners fans think would have scored or when he tells someone to go home and they are thrown out at the plate. But nothing like he would if fans perceive that he's left the pitcher in too long or pulled him too soon, makes any one of about 1,000 strategic moves that don't work or if the Cardinals would go on a six or seven or eight-game losing streak when he's pushing the buttons.
He currently NEVER has to explain himself to the media. If he was the manager, he'd have to do that every game night and many times in between. And maybe he just doesn't want to do that.
I bring this up because I sense that Mike Matheny's candidacy is gaining momentum. And maybe it's because Oquendo and Matheny aren't in competition. Maybe Oquendo wants Matheny to be the manager -- and everything else to stay the same -- so he can keep doing what he has been doing in peace.
I still don't know how I feel about the prospect of Matheny as skipper. I have a lot of respect for the guy. He was a great defensive player. But what do we know about his managerial style or capabilities? We know nothing about how he would react under pressure. I just don't think you can hand over the keys to the defending World Series champions and a team that is expected to compete in 2012 to a guy who has never coached in a game at the professional level.
If the Cardinals want to make Matheny a manager, he should have been sent to the minors someplace to give it a try. The stakes are too high at the big league level for things not to work out.