Should Cardinals' manager Oli Marmol be on the hot seat?
By Josh Jacobs
The argument for and against firing your manager this early in the season
To my knowledge, at this point in the season, I have not heard anyone in the Cardinals' clubhouse or front office question Marmol's leadership. Even after the O'Neill situation, it feels like things have at least mellowed out there. There was even a shot of the two laughing together earlier this week.
If it was clear Marmol had lost the clubhouse, then I think a change would be coming soon. But he hasn't, and so I think it will take other evidence to bring Marmol to the point of losing his job. For as much as people want to say the Cardinals are reluctant to make moves, they fired Mathaney mid-season and fired Schildt after making the playoffs.
Ultimately, he will be graded by the win and loss column, and Marmol knows that. So at what point does the Cardinals' record dictate a decision like that? Well, there are arguments for both sticking with your manager and firing your manager with other contenders who got off to rocky starts.
Last season, the Philadelphia Phillies began the year 22-29 and were 12 games back in the division and 5 1/2 games back in the NL Wild Card race. The Phillies decided to fire their manager Joe Girardi, and by the end of the season, they snuck into the playoffs as a Wild Card and made it to the World Series. For as much as people may try to say "Well, look at the talent they had", nobody thought the Phillies could rebound from that start at the moment. Like the Cardinals, they looked like a team with a ton of talent but just had too many things going against them.
Like Girardi, Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was fired that summer with a 46-42 record, and the club had a .603 winning percentage the rest of the season under bench John Schneider. The Blue Jays seemed to finally be the team they were on paper under new leadership.
But after those two examples, you have to go back to 2009 to find another in-season managerial change that led to a playoff berth. It's just not typically the answer for clubs that are struggling, especially when they have the talent to do so much more.
There are countless examples of sticking with the guy the organization believes in though. In 2021, the Atlanta Braves spent 101 days of the season below .500 and took until game 107 to finally maintain a winning record. They went on to make the playoffs and win the World Series that year, even after losing Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season-ending injury. They weren't expected to do much in the postseason, but some timely trade deadline moves (which could be in store for St. Louis) made all the difference.
In 2019, the Washington Nationals were 19-31, yes, a whopping 12 games below .500, on May 24th and somehow turned their season around to win an epic World Series that year. Again, they weren't the favorites by any means, people pointed to many of their flaws, and yet, they made it work in the end.
I'll make a bold guess and say that people were calling for Brian Snitker and Dave Martinez's jobs throughout the season. And yet, they ended the year as World Series champions. I am NOT saying that I think the Cardinals are the next team to win it all after a really bad start but to write them off as even a Wild Card team already is just foolish. As of today, there are 137 games left in the season, and the Cardinals are only 5 games back of the Wild Card and 8 games back in the division. They've got their work cut out for them, but it even if it takes a few more weeks to get back fully on track, it won't take some crazy win streak like in 2021 to put them in the playoffs.
Ultimately, I don't think what is going on with the club can be pinned directly on Marmol. Yes, he has a part to play in it, but how big a role is definitely in question. But before a managerial change should really be considered, there are a few other parties that need to be looked at further.