How Oli(ver) Marmol is bringing back Passion to the Cardinals Dugout

by JoeYancey

Oli Oli Oxen Free

All of us here in St. Louis were somewhere between surprised and flabbergasted when Mike Shildt was fired during last season’s offseason. Shildt finished third in NL Manager of the Year voting, aided by a 17-game winning streak. The Cardinals season ended unceremoniously on a walk-off homerun by Los Angeles Dodger, Chris Taylor. Two years earlier Mike Shildt won National League Manager of the Year.

If Mike Shildt was sacked, two things were certain:

  1. Mike Shildt did something that did not agree with the Cardinals’ front office.
  2. Whoever was replacing Mike Shildt was damn good.

So, did the Cardinals go after Terry Francona or Buck Showalter? Nope John Mozeliak and team tapped the world-renowned, sought-after Oliver Marmol! Okay, who?

Here is the deal – Oli Marmol has changed the identity of this team, and more importantly he is playing to win. This much is clear.

Oil’s demeanor embodies Big Sean’s popular track “IDGAF” he legitimately does not. This may not play well with the boomer STL Cardinals fans, but nothing is more important than the right matchup, the right timing, and the right people in the right spots.

How this is viewed from the outside does not seem to be of any concern to Oli.

Many Cardinals fans assumed Mike Shildt was defiant, and not willing to march to the drum of, VP of Operations, John Mozeliak. Mozeliak cited philosophical differences as the reason for terminating Shildt. Cardinals’ Nation fans thought Marmol was chosen, because he would fall in line, and do as he was told. While that may be true, it is working out fine. And if so, John Mozeliak is one heck of a coach. Oli does not sign up for stubborn tactics – over-using veterans in the wrong moments while starving the hot hand. If Tony La Russa was stubborn, Mike Matheny was the pointed object, and Mike Shildt was oblivious, then Oli Marmol grabs a little bit of all of that and is just naïve enough to be dangerous.

I have specifics; but we do not need them.

  • The sentimental pick: The aging legend Albert Pujols instead of the younger, better Juan Yepez? NOPE. Oli is not into it. Juan goes first. Al when it fits.
  • The “potential” HOF catcher Yadier Molina lugging 95% of starts with a few rest days here and there? NOPE. Even when Molina was healthy Andrew Knizner was starting more than 20% of games behind the plate.
  • Pulling Miles Mikolas north of 100 pitches in a no-hitter. Something we have seen many managers do this year alone. NOPE. Oli wanted Miles in. He kept Miles in.
  • Wearing the ringers out, knowing that “saving them” means nothing if the team does not make the playoffs? NOPE. Goldy, Nolan with no days off.
  • Young Guns getting their clock – Nolan Gorman, and notably Brendan Donovan getting the playing time that they have earned. YES.
  • Pulling starters shy of five innings for the better matchup, when he thinks the game could slip away. YES.

One of the biggest pieces is he is who he is. He is forever relaxed and comfortable in any situation. He is more outspoken and ready to debate calls with umpires than guys that have managed for decades. He is better with the media than front office professionals, and more importantly than all he is always making what he thinks is the best play and the next right move.

Oli has his team running with Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader at the top of the NL in stolen bases. He plays lefty on lefty and righty on righty matchups. He fights for his team. He challenges every marginal call. He is in the face of at least one umpire every week. He is the enthusiastic leader the St. Louis Cardinals have had since Whitey Herzog.

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