The Cardinals’ season-long search for a more productive offense — one like they had when leading the league in runs last season — has prompted a trade, pressed a rookie into the lineup, and, manager Mike Matheny described Wednesday, drawn some “cheap” criticism for the team’s coaches, such as hitting coach John Mabry. “You have two factors,” Matheny said before the Cardinals’ series finale at Marlins Park. “You take it personal if it doesn’t get done, even though you’re going about it right. You’re putting as much work if not more now than what you did last year when things were going so well. You’ve got people taking cheap shots all the time. You’re human. You wear that. Plus you know that the (players) are not happy with where the guys are right now. If you have coaches who don’t care, then they’re just putting in their time and chalking it up to a number of issues. “That’s not what we have.” In part to jolt the offense at the end of an arduous road trip, the Cardinals took batting practice in the cage Wednesday, but not on the field. Once the Marlins finished the usual batting practice on the field, the grounds crew started setting up the field because no Cardinals hitters took it. Altering the schedule has been something Matheny has done several times this season, though not quite as much as moving pieces around the fixed batters, like leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter, in the lineup. The Cardinals were shut out for the 11th time this season Tuesday night, and though they had nine hits or more in three consecutive games on this road trip they continue to strain for runs. They have scored three or fewer runs in 13 of the 22 games since the All-Star break. They are 4-9 in those games, 0-3 on this trip. “We need to mix it up,” Matheny said. “We’ve had a few guys who are solely doing their stuff in the cage (before games) and have been swinging the bat well. There’s something to be noted there. We’re taking a little different approach. Sometimes (that) can make a difference.” Matheny described the hitting philosophy stressed by Mabry and assistant David Bell as the same as last year, when the Cardinals led the NL in runs, and “process-driven.” They do not have one over-arching approach that they prescribed to all of the hitters or in general to the lineup, but rather individualized goals for each hitter. There are times when that approach tries to pair a hitter’s strengths with the opposing pitcher specifically, or when the focus is just solely on a swing that’s awry and needs tuning. The dive in production has brought the team under scrutiny, both externally and internally.
Criticism of coaches annoys Matheny
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Aug 15