photo: Mark Budaska (Michael McLoone/Imagn)
St. Louis Cardinals communication
On Monday afternoon, August 12, the club made the following announcements via Twitter.
The St. Louis Cardinals have relieved Mark Budaska of his duties as assistant hitting coach.
Memphis (AAA) hitting coach Jobel Jimenez will join the Major League staff for the remainder of the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/l4rwf9oUR2
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 12, 2019
Brian Walton’s take
Well, this is a surprise.
While the Cardinals offense overall has been a disappointment this season, the assistant hitting coach is not the most impactful position on the team. Further, “Buda” had a reputation as a valued teacher over a long tenure in the organization, serving as Memphis’ hitting coach from 2008 through 2018 under a number of managers, including Mike Shildt, Stubby Clapp and Ron “Pop” Warner.
Then again, perhaps one should not be surprised, as Budaska, 66, is the third assistant hitting coach to be fired by the Cardinals in the last three years. Derrick May was let go following the 2016 season and Bill Mueller was dismissed along with Mike Matheny and John Mabry last July.
The numbers indicate the 2019 Cardinals are currently 13th of 15 National League teams with a collective .722 OPS and 13th in run-scoring at 4.47 per game.
One would have to assume that hitting coach Jeff Albert, who inherited Budaska when joining the organization over the winter, has decided he wants his own right-hand man. That the move was made now, rather than after the season, suggests a sense of urgency.
It will be interesting to see if the offense responds over the final seven weeks of the season, and if so, how.
Update: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak spoke to MLB.com about the move.
“It really came down to philosophical differences in what we’re trying to do,” Mozeliak said. “As the season wore on, we just didn’t feel like it was clicking. Ultimately, we had to make a decision. I’ve really enjoyed my time working with Buddha, but we felt like for the better good that we had to make a change.”
Jimenez, 41, a former infielder, moved into being a scout and instructor in 1994. He joined the Cardinals organization 13 seasons ago, working his way up from coaching hitters in the (now defunct) Venezuelan Summer League to the Gulf Coast League, Peoria and Springfield. This was (obviously) his first season leading the Triple-A hitters.
Last year, when Budaska was with St. Louis, the organization used multiple rotating coaches to replace him at Memphis and with just three weeks remaining in the season, my guess is this approach will be used again to cover for Jimenez at Triple-A.
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