photo: Oliver Marmol via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
St. Louis Cardinals release
The St. Louis Cardinals announced this morning (Monday, October 25) that they have named Oliver “Oli” Marmol as the team’s manager, the 51st field manager in franchise history, and at age 35, the youngest since Marty Marion who piloted the team at age 34 in 1951. Marmol served as the Cardinals bench coach the past three seasons (2019-21), and was the team’s first base coach from 2017-18.
Please welcome our new manager, Oliver 'Oli' Marmol! pic.twitter.com/CVyax3J0bw
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 25, 2021
“We are extremely pleased to name Oliver “Oli” Marmol as our new manager,” stated Cardinals’ Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Bill DeWitt, Jr. “Oli is a career member of the Cardinals organization, and someone who has built excellent working relationships with our players, coaches and staff members at all levels. We believe that he possesses strong managerial skills that will allow for the continued success of our team.”
Oli, who was born in New Jersey, and is of Dominican descent, becomes only the second minority to manage the Cardinals and the first since Cuban-born Mike González did so for parts of the 1938 and 1940 seasons.
“The entire organization felt that it was important to try and maintain the success, progress, and momentum that was built over the course of 2021 season,” said Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “We are excited to have Oli helping us to further grow that effort as we move forward. Oli has always been someone that I knew would one day become a manager, and today I am pleased to join in introducing him as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.”
Marmol spent five seasons (2012-16) managing in the Cardinals farm system, leading his teams to the postseason in four of those five seasons, including the New York-Penn League title in 2014 with State College. Marmol’s teams were a combined 268-225 (.544), posting league-best 48-win seasons in both 2013 and 2014 at State College.
In 2015, his first season managing at Palm Beach, the Cardinals reached the Florida State League’s (A) postseason for the first time since 2008 when Oli was serving as the Palm Beach second baseman.
Oli’s first managerial experience came in 2012 with Johnson City, leading the rookie-league Cardinals to a 39-28 mark and a playoff appearance. His first coaching position was as the hitting coach with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2011.
Marmol, who was drafted (6th round) by the Cardinals in 2007 as an infielder out of the College of Charleston (S.C.), finished his four-year (2007-2010) professional playing career at Palm Beach of the Class A Florida State League. Oli was first drafted in 2004 by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla, but chose to attend college and did not sign.
Marmol was voted the recipient of the Cardinals organization’s prestigious George Kissell Award in 2013 for excellence in player development.
Oli, and his wife, Amber, have two daughters; Riley and Kylie.
Brian Walton’s take
Almost immediately on Sunday after the Cardinals informed media members of a 10:00 a.m. Monday announcement, word leaked out that Marmol was the choice. First was Katie Woo and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Given the organization’s importance of continuity and developing from within, Marmol had emerged from the start as the front-runner. He solidified that after discussions with Mr. DeWitt and Mr. Mozeliak.
Once the Zoom call began and the two team executives finished their prepared remarks and began fielding questions, several necessary balance points became clear.
Mozeliak said the “narrative is not accurate” of Marmol being a ‘yes man’ for the front office. He cited the importance of giving the manager the “resources” and “tools” to make the best decisions during games, but “not give the manager lineups or dictate who will close the game”.
Mozeliak said several times that Marmol would “bring his own voice, his own fingerprints” and would “have autonomy”. However, he also stressed the importance of synergy between the manager and departments “downstairs” like performance analysis and baseball development. Examples cited include sharing “why players were acquired and how to (best) use them” as well as the importance of “feedback loops”. Mo expects Marmol to “grow from what he saw” as bench coach.
Marmol mentioned that it was “shocking” to him that Mike Shildt was fired last week and cited the former manager as one of his three career mentors, along with Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque and retired field coordinator Mark DeJohn. Because the two had worked so closely together, getting the support of Shildt was “important” and “meaningful” to the new manager. Marmol told me he would continue to “rely” on the trio in the future as well as others outside the game in the area of leadership.
Marmol has also spoken with four “core” team leaders – Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. He is looking forward to leading them and helping them to achieve their goals.
Communicating clearly, being a good listener and being observant are the most important parts of the job, said Marmol. He does not consider his relative youth a positive or negative, noting that “if a player knows you care”, “if you are prepared and help them get better”, then he will “have the respect of the club”.
In terms of the team’s goal, Marmol defined it is a “championship – anything less is a disappointment.” He specifically said that applies to 2022.
Asked about hitting coach Jeff Albert, Marmol harkened back to 2008, when their personal and baseball paths first crossed. The new skipper made it clear that “our philosophies align”. Marmol said they “will improve on messaging with players and getting them to do what we’d like them to do”.
I asked Mo about how they would balance organizational continuity with gaining external experience as they consider candidates to be the bench coach replacement for the 35-year-old Marmol. The PBO acknowledged the “value in an outside voice to improve our product” while noting they also have internal candidates for the opening. The job should not be open long, as the plan is to replace Marmol by the conclusion of the World Series.
The full video of the Zoom call (courtesy of Charlie Marlow) is included for those who want to listen to every word. There was much information shared during the over-45-minute session.
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