Cardinals fire Mike Shildt despite second-half surge to win a wild-card spot

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The St. Louis Cardinals captured baseball's attention with an amazing wild-card run in the second half of the season, but that wasn't enough to save manager Mike Shildt's job.

The Cardinals fired Shildt on Thursday after the team's miracle run in the second half, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced in a news conference.

The move comes as a surprise considering how well the Cardinals played in the second half. Things looked bleak at the trade deadline. The Cardinals sat at 52-52, and were seven games out of a wild-card spot. With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals rallied. The team went 38-20 over its next 58 games, including a 17-game win streak in September. That win streak propelled the team into the final wild-card spot in the National League. 

The team's luck ran out in the wild-card game, a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals kept the game close, losing on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Mozeliak said Shildt was fired due to "philosophical differences" about "where we saw the team going."

Mozeliak said Shildt was "very shocked" about the decision.

The Cardinals reportedly felt the decision needed to be made urgently, and asked MLB for permission to make the move on the same day the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are set to play Game 5 of the NLDS.

Shildt, 53, managed the club for four seasons, putting up a 252-199 record. The Cardinals went to the postseason in each of the last three seasons, but struggled, putting up a 4-9 record in the playoffs.

Where do the Cardinals go after firing Mike Shildt?

There aren't many leads on Shildt's replacement yet. Mozeliak mentioned the team will consider several internal candidates to replace Shildt. The team could also look at outside candidates, though Mozeliak did not mention any names. 

Given the team's recent postseason appearances, the Cardinals will likely look for a manager who can push their aging veterans to another World Series title before it's too late. Two of the team's longest-tenured players, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, will be 40 next season. Both Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter are in their mid-30s. 

The team's window is rapidly closing. It will be up to the Cardinals to find someone who can step in and guide this core to another title before the next era of Cardinals baseball begins.

Mike Shildt with the Cardinals.
Mike Shildt is out after four seasons with the Cardinals. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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