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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can’t be trusted with the team’s most precious assets

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny continues to make the wrong decisions, and it continues to lead to losses.
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny continues to make the wrong decisions, and it continues to lead to losses. AP
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny this week blamed two of his key players for their injuries.

It was a sad effort to throw two players the club will count on to make them competitors for years into the future under the proverbial bus.

Both Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes are at fault for putting themselves at risk, the skipper says, because they were not honest with the coaching staff when they were playing in pain. As a result, Reyes had a second consecutive season-ending injury before he even got warmed up and Martinez looked startlingly shaky in his return from the disabled list.

The explanation doesn't wash. And it's a startling move for the manager to shrug of responsibility of protecting his players. Matheny has been around professional athletes for decades. Many of those years were spent working with Adam Wainwright. Are we to believe this is the first time he’s experienced a competitive professional athlete saying he’s fine because he wants to stay in a game when he really wasn’t?

Baseball players fight for their entire young lives to make it to the big leagues. And they’re going to do anything they can to stick once they’ve made it. Someone has to look at the big picture because the male ego sometimes gets in the way of reason.

If Matheny couldn’t tell Wainwright was hurt the last two-plus years, he’s the only one watching Cardinals baseball who was in the dark. Those of us in the stands or even watching on television could plainly see Wainwright’s velocity wasn't nearly what it used to be. When a guy who once able to throw mid 90s is having trouble hitting 80mph, there’s no secret. Somethin’ just ain’t right.

So, it was disturbing for us watching Reyes pitch in his first game back from an extensive recovery period following Tommy John surgery that a guy we all know can reach triple digits in the radar gun was slowing down, down, down as the game wore on.

I was relieved when Matheny finally came out of the dugout to ask Reyes if he was alright. But I was shocked to see him return from whence he came without his prized young hurler. If he had ANY doubt about Reyes’ health — and he quite obviously did when he went out there — the only appropriate thing to do was to be cautious.

He somehow was talked out of taking the fragile prospect out of the game. Reyes wanted to prove he could still pitch so, in an ill-advised case of bravado, he reached back and threw a couple more pitches in the 95mph vicinity — and apparently finished himself off for the year.

This week Reyes had what amounted to emergency surgery to reattach his lat

Tendons to the bone and isn’t allowed to throw for six months.

Could Reyes have been saved for the season if he was taken out earlier? I don’t know for sure. But I do know that leaving him in certainly didn’t help anything.

So fast forward to Wednesday night when the previously fantastic rookie Jack Flaherty is suddenly hanging out between 82 and 85mph on the radar gun. Does Matheny learn from his lack of prudence and take his young star out? Oh, no. He leaves him out there to get hammered because he wants to protect the bullpen. Really? From what? One of the relievers the Cardinals wanted to keep out of the game for as long as possible was designated for assignment Thursday so Greg Garcia could be returned to the active roster.

So, the guy who manages this team decided to risk one of its brightest prospects to protect a guy they knew they were going to part company with the next day?

I’m not a big fan of Matheny’s in-game strategy. But he’s is supposed to be an expert leader of men. How is that possible when he sends his best players on suicide missions and then blames them for things not working out he eh he hoped?

Mike Maddux was supposed to come here and relieve the skipper of some of his pitching management duties. So maybe he gets some of the blame for the number of Cardinals hurlers injured this year. But it doesn’t make any sense to blame the guys who are just trying to compete. Someone has to be the adult in the room. And Matheny isn’t willing to be that guy.