The St. Louis Cardinals made coaching announcements on Tuesday; some are disappointing, some are confounding, and other potential moves are promising.
Change comes each offseason and the St. Louis Cardinals are no stranger to change as witnessed in the past few offseasons. The news out of the Cardinals’ front office on Tuesday was no different and was not a change of pace.
On Tuesday, VP of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak, announced that the MLB coaching ranks would be undergoing several changes for the 2019 season. Kicking off the changes was the news that Jose Oquendo, who had returned to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 after some begging by Mozeliak, would not be returning to the St. Louis squad in 2019.
This isn’t all that surprising but is disappointing. Oquendo, the Cardinals’ “secret weapon,” was a marked absence during the downturn of 2016 and 2017. His return to his old stomping grounds of the third base coach’s box with oversight in the defensive alignments was a welcomed reunion for the Cards in 2018.
Oquendo is a force with which to be reckoned and all of the St. Louis Cardinals heap praise upon him. Moreover, Cardinal players have historically reported to Spring Training early just to work with Oquendo.
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The promising news from the departure of Oquendo was Jose’s request to return to his player development duties in Jupiter, Florida which just so happens to be his home. This is promising as it will allow the major league players to still report to Spring Training early with the plan to work with Oquendo still intact.
On a personal note, I hate to see Oquendo leaving. I also hate that Jose never got the chance to be the St. Louis Cardinals manager. To me, he was a natural fit for that role but, alas, Mozeliak did not request my assistance. I do think, with this in mind, that Oquendo’s decision to not return might be rooted in his being repeatedly passed over.
I have a conspiracy theory in the works and I’ll get to that shortly…
Other coaching news released today included 2018 bench coach Ron ‘Pop’ Warner moving into the third base coaching duties for 2019 in the wake of the departing Oquendo. This is a great move for Pop and for the players.
Likewise, 2018 first base coach Oliver Marmol will assume the bench coach role vacated by the move of Warner. Mark Budaska will remain as the hitting coach (as reported by Jenifer Langosch), although this has been reported by a few that he will be the assistant hitting coach. And, lastly, George Greer will return to a minor league role in 2019.
Another interesting piece of news is that the front office has promised a major league coaching role to the 2018 manager of the Memphis Redbirds, Stubby Clapp. Clapp has been on his way out the door since his two successful seasons leading the Redbirds into their postseasons and bringing home the ‘gold’ in 2018.
For more on my thoughts for future landing spots for Clapp, check the link below.
I’ve read that Clapp is being considered for the hitting coach (if Langosch’s tweet above is not correct) or some other MLB coaching gig. This move will leave the managerial gig open in Memphis. I find myself wondering if this would be a suitable managerial job for Oquendo…?
Yes, Oquendo said he is content to return to Jupiter to be close to home and still impact the younger players but I wonder if he would gladly call Memphis home. In this role, Oquendo would still impact younger players while also getting to manage (something he was not ever allowed in St. Louis).
In any case, this is the first piece of St. Louis Cardinals news to burst from the quiet winter of our discontent. Let’s hope even more and better news is over the rainbow!