“Today is about Oli,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Monday morning while introducing Oliver Marmol as the 51st manager of the Cardinals.
Well, not exactly.
It sure was hard to keep the conversation from veering back toward the 50th manager, wasn’t it?
Mike Shildt just kept coming up, and he will continue to until the Cardinals prove that dumping mentor for mentee was a move that will be as good for on-field success as it was for the front office’s feelings.
Mozeliak shed a little more light on his decision to fire Shildt less than two weeks before announcing Marmol as his replacement, thankfully dropping the confusing label of “philosophical differences” for a more telling summary, one of a front office and a manager who just could not get along as well as the front office thinks a manager and a front office should.
Mozeliak clarified that he did not leave the wild-card loss in Los Angeles expecting to change managers. He said the presence of up-and-coming Marmol as Shildt’s bench coach helped him make the unexpected call when end-of-season conversations went sideways for Shildt. If you were wondering how seriously the Cardinals considered outside options, there is your answer. They didn’t. The front office was sliding Marmol in as soon as Shildt was shoved out.
“Now, many of you are still confused on why we are here in the first place,” Mozeliak said. “Perhaps our explanation on this was a bit vague. But it had to be made. So let me give you some details behind this. We had internal issues we felt we could not resolve. We felt the best path forward was to make a change for the organization, regardless of if it was not a popular one.”
That was Mozeliak trying to flip the page on the Shildt era for good.
Except the page kept flipping back and forth, and sometimes it was Marmol who was doing the flipping.
Marmol gave outstanding answers about not letting his age, 35, be a hindrance in his new role. He described with pride how he hopes the opportunity he has earned can help create more opportunities for other minority candidates who too often are unfairly overlooked. He explained the role of the modern manager as well as anyone could, describing it as a connector between various departments tasked with taking infinite information and turning it into the best possible decisions in real time, his polite way of pushing back against assumptions he will be a yes-manager for the front office.