The St. Louis Cardinals won the second Wild Card in the National League with a 90-72 record.
The team had a fantastic second half and, after a 17-game winning streak in September, secured their place in the postseason, where they were narrowly defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Wild Card Game.
A Surprising Decision
One would think that would be enough to retain manager Mike Shildt, but Cardinals president John Mozeliak cited “philosophical differences” as the reason behind his dismissal.
Yes: the manager was dismissed after such a successful season and a brilliant final month.
As surprising as it sounds, it shouldn’t really be all that shocking: baseball is changing, and it’s starting to become polarized among those who believe in the new wave and approach, and those who don’t.
Analytics are becoming a trend, and lineups are starting to be built in the offices rather than the dugout.
The Cardinals announced that Oliver Marmol, a 35-year-old from the Dominican Republic, will be the new man in charge.
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) October 25, 2021
Marmol had been acting as the Cardinals’ bench coach, so the team is promoting from within.
St. Louis is, therefore, placing all their faith in Marmol.
And it’s easy to conclude that this is not a transition manager, as the Cards have a roster in place to keep their contention window active: there is no time to lose.
Marmol is also a lifelong Cardinal: he has been a member of the big league coaching staff since 2017, he was drafted as a player by St. Louis and had a few seasons in their minor league system.
He was a hitting coach in the minors and then advanced to managing.
He was the skipper of the Johnson City and Palm Beach teams in the Cardinals’ system.
A Lifelong Cardinal Ready For His Biggest Challenge
He accumulated five seasons of managing experience down in the farms, with four playoffs appearances and a good 268-225 (.544) record.
Marmol is in a similar spot to Luis Rojas with the New York Mets when he took over before the 2020 season: a career Met in a variety of roles rewarded with his first managerial stint.
Marmol, like Rojas at the time, managed many of the Cardinals’ prospects that now are on the MLB roster.
The decision to hire Marmol fully suggests that he is open to embracing an analytics-driven approach and will incorporate such elements to his decisions, otherwise, the Cards could have just kept Shildt around.
Late on the train: #Cardinals have hired Oliver Marmol to be their next skipper. Personally, I think they should have kept Shildt, but I'm not against this hiring by any means. A fresh face who knows the analytics. pic.twitter.com/eacevGKsD7
— Express Line Sports (@ExpressLineSpo1) October 25, 2021
Marmol will be asked to fight for a spot in the postseason once again, since most of the stars of 2021 will be back next season.
The Cardinals are making a somewhat bold move, but they are hoping it pays off big time.