One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol (or, in this case, John Mozeliak) and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Manager: Oli Marmol
Overview: Marmol took over after the sudden and unexpected firing of Mike Shildt after the ’21 postseason and looked like he’d been doing it forever. He wasn’t a pushover for the legends on the club but he also gave them their deference and occasionally played them (most notably Albert Pujols) in spots that didn’t necessarily play to their strengths. Still, he threaded the needle of honoring the farewell tour of Pujols and Yadier Molina while also being competitive enough to take the division title with grace and apparent ease. He didn’t seem to be beholden to getting a starting pitcher a win when things were starting to go off the rails and used his bullpen in a way that didn’t seem to overuse any specific arm or leave someone on the bench too long. He was direct with the media, typically walking through various decisions and taking responsibility for when they went wrong, even if he didn’t always say he’d do it differently in hindsight. His familiarity and comfort with analytics seemed to pay dividends as well. Marmol came in fourth in Manager of the Year voting but there’s a case he should have at least been in the top three.
Outlook: I wrote nice things after Shildt’s first year in the bigs as well, so maybe there’s always something about a change that brings out the better thoughts or at least the benefit of the doubt. (To be fair, I liked Shildt throughout his tenure.) It seems unlikely that Marmol is going anywhere for a while–the three managers over the past four years is an unstable situation for the organization that went through three full-time managers from 1980-2011 and I would think they’d like to get back to that sort of stability. With a young manager that seems to be on the same page with the front office, it seems Marmol will be climbing up the club’s managerial win list for quite some time to come.