Drastic Change #1 - Managerial Change
I am a fan of Oliver Marmol as the team's manager. 2022 was a really good year for the first-year manager, and then 2023 was about as bad as it could get. I pinpoint a lot of the issues the Cardinals dealt with as roster construction related, which points to the front office's mistakes over that of Marmol. Still, it's pretty clear to everyone involved that results need to be different this season, or changes could be coming.
In my reflection of the eight Cardinals I was most impressed by during Winter Warm-Up, I placed Marmol on that list due to the accountability he has taken for 2023, the culture of trust and "team-first" mentalities that he is trying to build, and his desire to surround himself with great leaders. All of these are encouraging signs of the kind of leader Marmol wants to be in that clubhouse, but at the end of the day, results will dictate his future.
Speaking of great leaders around him, there's been a lot of discussion about the addition of Yadier Molina as a special advisor this year. Yadi has been very clear that he would like to manage one day, and it's easy to see why people are speculating that his first opportunity will come sometime this year or next season. If things go well for St. Louis, I'd bet they stick with Marmol and give him an extension, but if things do go south again, Molina is likely the man in charge before the end of the season.
In this doomsday scenario for the Cardinals where they are clearly out of the race by the deadline again, I'd imagine Marmol is fired by the All-Star Break and replaced by Molina, if not sooner. Not only would the change be something that would help build fan interest during another lost season, but it would also help Molina get his feet wet as the official manager for the Cardinals and secure their next long-term plan as manager.
Both John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. had opportunities at Winter Warm-Up to throw cold water on the Molina-Marmol dynamic, but neither really did. They both committed to Marmol as manager but frankly left the door open for a change to happen if needed. They should have that stance, but it felt odd to me that they wouldn't do anything to calm the narrative. Even if it's true, it doesn't help them to have people wondering all season long.