It's been rocky to say the least when it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals season thus far. I pointed to eight different reasons for their turbulent season yesterday, as there is just so much to blame.
When Nolan Arenado asked if manager Oli Marmol had lost the clubhouse, he seemed to shift the blame to the front office instead. The quote comes from Katie Woo's story in The Athletic (subscription required).
""I would definitely disagree with that. My personal opinion? I think Oli has been dealt a tough hand the last two years, I really do believe that. Last year, we were young, and if it wasn’t for (the team signing) Albert Pujols, I don’t know where we’d be. It’s a young team. And it’s hard to win with a lot of young players. Doesn’t mean we can’t, because we’ve done it, we did it last year and we can go out and do it again, but we really have to step up and play at a better level. Oli has been great. The coaching staff has been great. I just think it’s not easy to come in and try to put this together.”"- Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado took both accountability and a shot at the front office
When you look at comments like "Oli's been dealt a tough hand", "It's hard to win with a lot of young players", or "if it wasn't for Albert Pujols...", they all seem to be indicating frustration with the Cardinals' front office, rather than feeling like his manager has failed him.
If you listen to Arenado's quotes over the last few days, he genuinely believes in his manager and thinks the team needs to play better. But it's clear that Arenado took a chance to take some digs at his front office as well. Everyone remembers this past offseason when John Mozeliak and Arenado had a meeting about the future of the club before he opted back in, and clearly, he's not happy with how the team was constructed since that conversation.
This could just be a case of a player defending his manager and his comments have more to do with that than hard feelings with the front office, but I kind of doubt that. Arenado has not been shy in the past about saying the club needs to get better, and it feels like the sentiment is starting to leak out again for him.
Many have been calling for Marmol's job this season, and I honestly do not think Arenado would go out of his way like he has to defend him if he didn't believe in his manager. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be let go, but it does show that he hasn't lost the respect of this clubhouse. But I do worry that the clubhouse's trust in the front office may be wearing very thin.
Even if this is now a lost season, how the Cardinals use this deadline and offseason to retool for the 2024 season will be paramount in rebuilding trust with this group of players. This team needs Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Willson Contreras, and company to be bought into the vision of this club. If they aren't, then the front office restructuring may need to happen sooner than we have anticipated.