The 8 Cardinals I was most impressed by at Winter Warm-Up

While speaking to the media this week, these 8 Cardinals stood out above the rest.
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Oliver Marmol

How does one deal with the pressure of coming off a down season, being in the last year of his contract, a club legend brought in who has aspirations to manage? Calm, cool, accountable, and collected.

Marmol was quick to take responsibility across the board for the issues the club ran into this past season while keeping most of his attention focused on how the club will be better in 2024. Pitching additions will play a major role in that, along with a healthier ball club, but at the end of the day, trust was the major theme for Marmol.

Hungry and motivated are words we've heard from multiple Cardinals this weekend, and Marmol embodied that better than anyone. He would be the first one to admit that talk is talk, and he's chomping at the bit to get out there and show that this team will be different in 2024.

One of the things I was most impressed by, and have been since the time Oli came on as manager of the Cardinals, is his desire to surround himself with great leaders. In 2022, he hired Skip Schumaker to be his bench coach, who was then hired the following offseason to manage the Miami Marlins. In 2023, his selection was Cardinals' Hall of Famer Matt Holliday, who ended up stepping away before Spring Training due to not being able to keep up with the time commitment. Holliday is viewed around baseball as a future manager. After Joe McEwing filled in for Holliday in 2023, Marmol pursued Daniel Descalso for the role, someone who is also seen as an up-and-coming managerial candidate in the game.

When Marmol was asked about his comfort level with having guys around him who could theoretically take his job one day, it was clear that the Cardinals' manager invited that level of talent into the room.

"It’s a high-stakes environment. If you are insecure, then this seat’s not for you. It’s as simple as that. You want the best people around you, at all times. And that means you're hiring people that can one day do your job."

Oli Marmol

When asked about how that philosophy factored into the organization's decision to bring in Yadier Molina as a special advisor, Marmol said he had numerous conversations with Yadi, and "at the end of the day, he wanted him around as much as possible", saying that had a good relationship and he had hoped to have him in the dugout full-time. I talked a lot about this dynamic with Redbird Rants contributor Andrew Wang on the Noot News Podcast recap of Day 1 of Winter Warm-Up

To me, that's a sign of excellent leadership. You've probably heard it said before that you never want to be the smartest person in the room, and while that's not saying the Cardinals' should hope their manager is less competent than his staff, Marmol's posture indicates that he wants people in that room who will challenge him, grow him, and help this team be the best it can be.

We can have a debate about whether or not Marmol is the right guy for the job. I personally still support Marmol because of traits like this, but at the end of the day, Marmol would agree that 2024 has to yield different results for that to be the case. I have confidence in the culture he's building going into next season, and I was impressed with the messaging he had with us this weekend.