Turner Ward isn't the problem for the Cardinals, but he still needs to go

Turner Ward didn't ignite the dumpster fire that is the offense of the 2024 St. Louis Cardinals, but it would be best if the team cut its ties with the hitting coach.
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day
St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day / Benjamin Rusnak/GettyImages

With the St. Louis Cardinals' offense in the gutter and ranking in the bottom three of nearly every stat in the league, many fans who have not yet become apathetic to the team are directing their ire toward hitting coach Turner Ward. And while much of the offense's ineptitude is likely out of Ward's control, the Cardinals need to make a statement and relieve Ward of his duties.

It has been established that the Cardinals are among the worst teams in baseball at hitting the high fastball and the low breaking ball, but the roots of the Cardinals' putrid offense likely emerge from a variety of factors that don't place the blame squarely on Ward. Although the hitting coach can guide his players and provide advice, the onus is always on the hitter to produce at the plate. It's unlikely that Ward is forcing longtime stars such as Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado to radically modify their swings given the two hitters' years of success in the major leagues, and there's little reason that other hitters who played well in previous seasons, such as Brendan Donovan, would be told to alter their approaches as well.

Ward is not as analytically driven as Albert was, which may lead more sabermetrically inclined fans to assume the worst, but the players and manager Oli Marmol are insistent that Ward is not the problem.In a postgame interview, Marmol said that he plans to stay the course with Ward and that he likes the voices the Cardinals have in the clubhouse.

The organization's loyalty to Ward is admirable, but hitting coaches rarely have long careers with a team. Only five hitting coaches in the league have been with their teams for more than three years, which is a direct result of hitting coaches generally being the sacrificial lambs when their teams' offenses sputter.

Letting Ward go is the Cardinals' only realistic option to send a message. Before the 2024 season got underway, Marmol received a contract extension that will likely keep him with the Cardinals through 2026. President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak will be leaving his position after 2025, and players such as Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado won't be replaced en masse. While Ward may not be the primary issue, his dismissal is the most logical step to take.

The Cardinals continue to preach patience in 2024, much as they did through this point in their 71-91 disaster in 2023. But if the front office wants any semblance of change to occur with this team, the Cardinals need to take drastic action. Much as how the St. Louis Blues received a jolt of adrenaline after head coach Craig Berube was fired during the 2023-2024 NHL season, the Cardinals need a shot in the arm to wake this offense up, and firing Ward may be the only way to provide it.