The Cardinals are set to announce bench coach Oliver Marmol as the team’s next manager, according to Katie Woo and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Cards have called a press conference for Monday morning to officially introduce Marmol.
The hiring concludes an unusual start to the St. Louis offseason, as there wasn’t any indication that previous manager Mike Shildt’s job was in danger before the Cardinals surprisingly fired Shildt 10 days ago. As president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters, “philosophical differences” emerged with Shildt, and while some reports have surfaced about what some of those differences may have been, it appears the issue was indeed with Shildt alone. It seems as though the Cards will be bringing back most or all of their coaching staff for 2022, though a new bench coach will now be needed with Marmol being elevated to the top job.
Marmol was seen as a candidate essentially from the moment the news broke of Shildt’s firing, and at age 35, Marmol is now the youngest current manager in the big leagues. He is also the first person of color to work as the Cardinals manager in over 80 years, since Mike Gonzalez briefly managed the team on an interim basis in both 1938 and 1940 (a total of 23 games).
Despite his young age, Marmol already has plenty of experience on the bench. Originally a sixth-round pick for the Cards in the 2007 draft, Marmol played four seasons in the minors before transitioning to coaching and managing in the St. Louis farm system. He has spent the last five seasons on the Cardinals’ MLB coaching staff, working two years as first base coach before working as Shildt’s bench coach for the last three seasons.
Marmol is now the third manager Mozeliak has hired during his tenure as the team’s GM and president of baseball operations, and like predecessors Shildt and Mike Matheny, Marmol also has longstanding ties to the St. Louis organization. In a sense, Marmol is something of a blend of the two previous skippers — he has Matheny’s relative youth and more recent playing experience, but also a resume of managerial experience in the minors and coaching experience in the majors, a la Shildt. Marmol has been mentioned as a potential manager of the future for the Cardinals and other teams, so the Cards’ hiring decision may have been partially inspired by a desire to keep Marmol in the fold.
The newly-minted skipper will face plenty of expectations in the top job, as the Cardinals have reached the postseason in three straight seasons but suffered two early exits (losing to the Dodgers in this year’s wild card game and to the Padres in the 2020 wild card series) and a four-game sweep to the Nationals in the 2019 NLCS. St. Louis fans are always expecting to win, and since 2022 will be Yadier Molina’s farewell season, there is perhaps even extra pressure for extended playoff success next year.
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