Oliver Marmol was introduced as the new manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. At 35, he’s the youngest manager the Cardinals have had since Marty Marion, who was 34, in 1951. He’s also younger than eight players from last season’s roster, including Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. Perhaps, more importantly, he’s the second minority manager in the history of the club.
Before I go on to say some negative things about the hire — and also John Mozeliak, the team’s President of Operations — let me first say it’s vastly overdue for a team who’s had many players of color, and specifically Latinos, be some of their best players, clubhouse leaders and assistant coaches for a long time. Mozeliak should be applauded for that aspect of the hire.
Marmol seems like a standup dude, and even went as far as to get the blessing of the man he replaced and considers a mentor in Mike Schildt. It was a classy move and shows he wasn’t playing “Game of Thrones: MLB Manager Edition.”
Having said all that, it’s a weird hire following a weird firing, of which we still don’t have a full explanation. Mozeliak declined to get into specifics of the difference in philosophies that led to Schildt’s departure other than saying it “was something that popped up recently,” revolving around “internal issues we felt we could not resolve.”
So was it Schildt’s hands-off approach in the play-in game? Sending your starting pitcher to hit with runners on in a 1-1 game only to have him fail at the plate and also get yanked in the bottom half of the inning was regrettable. Was it a fireable offense? I don’t know.
Nobody knows because we’ve only heard this vague, flaccid response from Mozeliak. If I was Marmol — for the record, we’re the same age — I’d want a pretty fucking good explanation before taking the job. Was Schildt not getting enough out of his players? Was he not playing the right players? Did they disagree on managerial minutiae or more meta tactics?
I wrote about Mozeliak’s lack of homegrown talent, so I won’t recap it all, but the gist of it was his free agency and trade acquisitions, while good, don’t make up for missing on prospects or not hiring good enough staff to develop them. Mozeliak wasn’t pulling the strings in 2007 when Marmol was drafted by the Cardinals, but he was the assistant GM. You know who was drafted two spots after Marmol? Anthony Rizzo. Talk about what ifs/making Cubs’ fans heads explode/a successor to Albert Pujols.
Rehashing draft picks, especially in baseball, is a waste of energy, but the farm system has been Mozeliak’s biggest deficiency during his tenure. A close second is unimaginative managerial hires.
I was never wowed by anything the Mikes (Schildt and Matheny) did as managers, but Matheny was serviceable enough to get a second gig, and Schildt is already interviewing for openings. Hiring Marmol seemed a year or two premature, and Mozeliak even admitted as much.
“I really felt like Oli was going to be a major league manager at some point. I did not think it was necessarily going to be 2022,” he said at Marmol’s introductory news conference Monday.
Gotcha. So — backhanded compliments aside — you hired a guy who you think is still a few years away from being a manager, who said he’ll still lean on the manager you just fired, because … why?!
The St. Louis Post Dispatch cited two sources as agreeing it was more “personality differences than philosophical differences” that led to Schildt getting fired.
Well no shit. If Mozeliak just wanted a yes man, he should’ve promoted himself to manager. I’ll be rooting for Marmol, but if he fails, the organization should hold the man who hired him accountable.