Ugly - Marmol and his "weeding out" comments
It's wishful thinking, but it would be fantastic if part of the postponement were to put Oli Marmol in check with his communication issues from this season.
Marmol calling out players to the media, such as Tyler O'Neill, for a perceived lack of hustle and Willson Contreras for not being Yadier Molina, was a real headscratcher of a move for the manager in his second season. In his first season, Marmol had Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina act as enforcers and lead. He still had Mike Maddux as his pitching coach. Skip Schumaker, a player advocate, was his bench coach.
Pujols, Molina, Maddux, and Schumaker lead and could go to players one-on-one and address any concerns. The public did not have to know what was going on. They would take care of it so it was no longer an issue. And they did. Or so we thought!
For some reason, when these men moved on, Marmol felt he had to do things his way, which included going to the media to express his frustrations with a player's actions. Instead of having a one-on-one conversation, Marmol told the media exactly what was happening. It can not bode well for morale when the manager, goes to the press because of a perceived lack of hustle. As O'Neill said, the issue should have been handled one-on-one. The remainder of the season, it was apparent O'Neill was stressed out, was injured, and just not playing the way he'd hoped. During the last offseason, he noted he made changes to his preparation to reduce injury, which could have presented as a lack of hustle.
It should have been handled behind closed doors. O'Neill should have had Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Areando to lean on in this case. Marmol should have approached the two leaders to speak with him. This not happening raises questions as well.
When Contreras was called out for not being like Molina, he buckled down, talked one-on-one with his pitching staff to find out their needs, and was back as the everyday catcher. It would appear part of the reason Contreras got back in the good graces of Marmol was his work ethic combined with Adam Wainwright talking with him one-on-one about what he needs, as well as addressing the media and telling them how hard Contreras works.
Communication isn't hard. It just has to be done by people who know what they are doing.
It's telling that no one stepped up for O'Neill and that he was left to deal with this on his own basically. O'Neill is likely the number one player Marmol wishes to "weed out." There is probably more to this issue than we know as fans.
But, if it makes one thing clear, the 2023 edition of the Cardinals had no true player leadership in the clubhouse that could be depended on to act as team leaders like Pujols or Molina. A real communicator amongst their teammates like Wainwright was for the pitching staff. Goldschmidt and Arenado could be that but are not visibly doing so thus far. Both are stoic and mind their business. It will be interesting to see if they step into that role next season. If not them, it could be Willson Contreras or Tommy Edman taking on the role. Several years from now, it will be Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn.
Reports surfaced this week that there has been mutual interest between the Cardinals and Molina about returning at some point as a coach. If this were a reality, it would be awesome as the team would have that leader they all respect. Even though it will be very new next season, the pitching staff loves him. The clubhouse and coaching staff adore him. Just think about how helpful this will be for Contreras. While this won't fix all that ails the Cardinals, it will help Marmol and the club.
The Cardinals will take the lessons of this disaster of a season for many seasons down the line. Hopefully, these are good lessons learned that will carry them forward to more successful seasons.