Should Cardinals' manager Oli Marmol be on the hot seat?
By Josh Jacobs
First, let's look at the problems that people have had with Marmol so far this year
Let's just pause for a second before we look at what people have been frustrated by with Marmol. Think back to Mike Shildt, Mike Mathaney, and even Tony La Russa. Cardinals fans have never been shy to voice their frustration with their managers, and honestly, I can't think of a fanbase that doesn't criticize their manager often.
Kevin Cash, who has continuously led the Tampa Bay Rays to winning seasons, has been on blast many times for his analytically driven approach. People have questioned Dave Roberts' ability to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers despite winning a World Series with the club and being a consistent contender. If it were up to Atlanta Braves fans, Brian Snitker probably would've been fired seasons before they won the World Series, or even early in that season when they had struggled out of the gates.
I'm by no means saying Marmol is in the same class as those guys or isn't without fault, but I also think it's good to remember that even the best managers in today's game get a lot of flack for their managing style. Even so, there are reasons mounting up for fans to be frustrated with the manager.
One of the easiest examples is the Tyler O'Neill drama from earlier this season. Honestly, it feels like that moment set the backdrop for everything that is going on. What started as "dirty laundry" that should have stayed in-house, became about as public as it possibly could have when Marmol and O'Neill went back and forth through the media. As this developed, I began to place more blame on O'Neill as well for how he fanned the flames a bit with his comments, but ultimately, Marmol should have kept things in-house.
The Cardinals' play on the field right now feels like perfect imagery for that situation. Now, every little mistake on the field is under a microscope from this fanbase, and it's hard not to think about the frustration Marmol showed toward O'Neill potentially rubbing off on the rest of the club.
Marmol is consistently criticized for his lineup construction and bullpen management as well. Some of these complaints feel unfair to put on the manager and should rather be critiques of the front office. When the Cardinals' failed to pull off a trade for Sean Murphy this offseason, it completely changed their plans, and they ended up holding onto too many young position players. Marmol now has the impossible task of keeping them all fresh, while also trying to play hot hands when they are there. Still, situations like player Taylor Motter consistently leave me scratching my head.
The same can be said of their bullpen. I think it's fair to say he hasn't thrown Ryan Helsley or Giovanny Gallegos enough this season (who rank 6th and 8th out of innings from their relievers so far), Marmol can't control that the rest of the bullpen, outside of Zack Thompson and Genesis Cabrera, is unreliable at best.
But as much as it may seem like I am defending Marmol, I'm not going to deny there are even more questionable decisions he has made to this point. Even outside of his Motter infatuation and puzzling bullpen usage, there have been multiple times this year when it seemed odd that Marmol hadn't pulled his starter from the game, and then boom, the game broke wide open for their opponents.
Or look back to Tuesday night's loss to the Giants. In the 8th inning, with a lefty on the mound, Marmol pinched hit Brendan Donovan with Paul DeJong and Lars Nootbaar with Tyler O'Neill. Now in this situation, both decisions worked out, but had they gone wrong, I think we all would have been in disbelieve about those decisions. DeJong has been hot in his return to St. Louis, but I still don't know if I trust him over Donovan in that spot. Sure Nootbaar is a lefty, but he doesn't have negative splits against southpaws and has a .911 OPS on the year. It's just weird managing all around.
I'm sure you can point to other things he has done in the comments, but I won't keep beating a dead horse. There are clearly things to point to with Marmol's managing style right now, and I can't blame anyone for feeling like he needs to go. But should he actually be on the hot steak because of those issues? Let's keep digging.