No Longer the Interim, Shildt is Here to Stay
ST. LOUIS - Mike Shildt. It's a name that you would have to be living under a rock not to know in the St. Louis Cardinals fanbase, and one becoming more and more well-known throughout baseball fans in general. It's a name that is also here to stay for the foreseeable future, as the Cardinals have decided to remove the interim tag from his managerial title. Shildt put pen to paper on a three-year contract Tuesday, according to Bleacher Report.
This comes after a string of success that has the Cardinals back in the driver's seat for a wild card spot, sitting a half game up on Milwaukee for home field advantage, and only 4.5 back from Chicago for the division. The positive run comes after the team was left just a game over five-hundred and a distant third place in the NL Central upon the firing of Mike Matheny. They were in danger of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season for the first time since 1997-99. For a franchise with the success the Cards have had over the last decade and a half or so, that is crisis-worthy.
Enter Mike Shildt. The man has worked for the organization in some capacity since 2004, when he was a part-time scout and position coach for the short-season Single-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. He moved around as the team did, changing locations year-after-year, becoming a full-time position coach in 2006. While toiling in the minors, he did just about everything a coach could. Pitching practice, batting practice, infield practice, being the third base coach during games. And he did all this while still keeping up some of his scouting duties.
In 2007, He helped coach a roster with 14 position players under the age of 21, and though he was not all that much older then they were, only 38 at the time, he acted as a father figure as well as coach.
It was his ability to build relationships with his players that was key in his climb up through the St. Louis organization. In 2009, he became the manager of the Single-A Johnson City Cardinals. In 2010, he won the Appalachian League Championship with that team. He was so effective in fact at mentoring and nurturing young talent, that he almost wasn't promoted to Double-A in 2011.
Then-general manager John Mozeliak knew Shildt could handle the higher level, but he was worried about filling the gaping void left at the Single-A level.
He managed the Springfield Cardinals for three seasons, leading them to a league title, before climbing again to Triple-A, and two years later to the Majors. All along the way he kept his reputation as someone who was a more than just a coach to his players.
That being said, it should really be no surprise this current Cardinals squad has responded with a 27-12 record since he's taken over. After all, nine players on the active roster are 25 and younger, Shildt's specialty. Many players on the team now worked with him in the minors at some stage as well.
The team will no doubt be overjoyed that any speculation over Shildt's future with the Cards is over. And with the youth on this team, Cardinals fans should have reason to cheer for years to come.