Cliff Williams did a deep dive on some underlying stats for this Cardinals' team under Marmol's leadership, and they weren't very kind to his case to lead the club going forward. Honestly, I'm not sure the 2023 season speaks highly of almost anyone involved with this team.
But when it comes to the job Marmol has done this year, I have a hard time advocating for him to lose his job when everyone can see how deeply flawed this team is. John Mozeliak confirmed that Marmol will be returning to manage in 2024, and I think that's the right decision, even if it's not popular amongst fans.
Do I think Marmol is one of the best managers in baseball? After one great and one awful season at the helm, I don't think anyone can say that. But do I think Marmol is a bad manager or that this season is somehow his fault? No, I really don't think any manager changes what this club accomplished this year in a meaningful way.
The Cardinals are on pace to finish 72-90 on the season. If you honestly believe that a different manager makes up an 18-game difference here and the Cardinals finish winning 90+ games, then I'm not sure we have been watching the same team this year. From the jump, this pitching staff has been horrendous. Having a different manager doesn't make Adam Wainwright regain his velocity and have one more magical season. I doubt they'd get Jack Flaherty on track (see his results in Baltimore). That manager wouldn't keep Steven Matz and Ryan Helsley healthy. This staff was a mess, so much so that this season was bound to end poorly.
What can a manager do when he has one, maybe two starters in his rotation that can produce consistently, and only have 1 to 2 arms at any given time in the bullpen that can consistently hold leads? If you believe a change is needed for change's sake, I get that. But I just don't subscribe to the idea that this season's disaster can be pinned on Marmol when this pitching staff has been so bad.
That's not on Marmol, that is a John Mozeliak and company issue. We all know Mozeliak is not afraid to let go of a manager if he thinks the move needs to happen, and he seems to agree that Marmol has to deliver results in 2024, but that 2023 is not to be pinned on him. (Both quotes come from John Denton's story on MLB.com)
"We know, when we look at 2024, things have to be different. I’m certainly encouraged with what I see out of Oli as a young manager. He’s extremely well organized, he’s prepared, and I think he gets a lot out of his players."- John Mozeliak
Mozeliak has continued to take ownership of this and appears ready to make some significant changes this offseason to fix that.
"We have to agree that this year happened and it’s behind us,” Mozeliak said. “It was not what we had hoped, and it was not good. So, to do nothing, regardless of how you think about the organizational structure, I do think we should be looking at different ways to solve our problems and our situation. So, I just think all those things are on the table."- John Mozeliak
The Cardinals are ready to make changes this offseason. Pitching is the number one priority. It also is their second and third biggest priority. Mozeliak could not be more clear with his statements since the deadline. He also seems to be indicating that they'll be looking to upgrade in ways they have not before, signally that they should be in the market for big-time arms this offseason. Derrick Goold just confirmed a report within the industry that Aaron Nola is one of the top names on their wishlist.
All of this is to stay, if the Cardinals are serious about making those upgrades this winter and follow through, Marmol will be under immense pressure to win right away. I get that the offense hasn't lived up to its potential this year and that the defense has regressed, but again, I truly believe this pitching mess has impacted all phases of the game. Marmol will need to turn the ship around immediately in 2024.
If that does not happen, I will be right there with disgruntled Cardinals fans in saying it's time for a managerial change. But for right now, Marmol deserves another shot to lead this club in 2024.