The Cardinals name Mike Matheny their new manager

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UPDATE:  The Cardinals have hired Matheny.  Wow.  Between him and Robin Ventura in Chicago, no managerial experience is the new thing for 2012.

The Cards are going to formally announce Matheny tomorrow.

Saturday: The Cardinals are expected to name Tony La Russa’s replacement at some point before Thanksgiving, and possibly as soon as next week.

Six candidates have interviewed for the job: Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, former Cubs great Ryne Sandberg, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo and former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny. The St. Louis higher-ups are not expected to interview more.

So where does this all stand? Is there a front-runner? And can any of the names above be ruled out?

It’s hard to say. The Cardinals are keeping tight-lipped as usual and the beat writers who cover the team have been unable to pick up strong leads. But there is a little something brewing.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a column Saturday handicapping the field, and while he states that the rankings are only a matter of opinion and speculation, he’s about as close to the team’s thinking as it gets. And his best guess for a current favorite would be Matheny.

Then comes this tweet from SI.com’s Jon Heyman:

source:  Matheny has no managing experience and turned 41 years old just last month, but the feeling is that he would make the transition from La Russa a smooth one and that he would operate well with the front office and coaching staff that is currently set in place. He’d also be cheaper, presumably, than Francona.

We can’t be certain that Matheny is truly the front-runner for the gig, but there’s certainly some buzz.

A.J. Hinch responds to Ken Giles’ negative comments about Astros

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On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:

I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.

While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”

Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.

At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.