St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of October 25-31

photo: Matt Carpenter (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals formalized their new manager choice, promoting bench coach Oliver Marmol. Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill won metrics-based fielding awards. Our history feature looks back on the career of homegrown Cardinal free-agent-to-be Matt Carpenter.

Marmol named new manager

St. Louis Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and President of Baseball Operations’ John Mozeliak announced to assembled media in a Zoom press conference on Monday, October 25, the team’s new manager, Oliver “Oli” Marmol. Marmol replaces Mike Shildt, who was unexpectedly dismissed from the job on October 14.

Oliver Marmol via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Marmol, 35, is the youngest manager in Major League Baseball and the 51st manager in franchise history. Marmol began as a player in the Cardinals minor leagues, after being selected in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. The infielder hung up his spikes after three seasons to become a coach in the system. He managed both the Rookie League Johnson City Cardinals, and the now Low-A Palm Beach Cardinals, before ascending to the major leagues, most recently serving as Shildt’s bench coach for the last three seasons.

Marmol’s promotion comes with the blessing of former manager Shildt, whom the former manager said, “has my deepest and most trusted respect.”  The two have a strong bond, as Shildt has mentored Marmol over his career.

The new manager inherits a coaching staff that remains almost completely intact from 2021, with the exception of a new bench coach needed to replace Marmol. That position is expected to be filled by the end of the World Series, with both internal and external candidates considered.

Marmol is a native Floridian with Dominican parents and is only the second manager of color for the Cardinals and the first such manager with full time status. Mike Gonzalez, a native of Cuba, managed the Cardinals on an interim basis twice, in 1938 and 1940.

Top three for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger awards and Fielding Bible winners

On Monday, October 25, the three top vote-getters at each position for the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards were disclosed. Six Cardinals were named as “finalists” for the Gold Glove Award and three Cardinals were named “finalists” for the Silver Slugger.

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award recognizes the best defensive player at each of the nine positions in each league. The winners will be announced on Sunday, November 7 at 7:30 CT on ESPN.

The six Cardinals finalists are C Yadier Molina, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Tommy Edman, 2B Nolan Arenado, LF Tyler O’Neill, and CF Harrison Bader.

Molina has won the award nine times. Other past winners are Goldschmidt (3), Arenado (8), and O’Neill (1). Bader and Edman would be first time winners; Bader was also finalist in 2019.

Voting for the award is done by managers and coaches in each league. Voters are not permitted to vote for their own players. A sabermetric component, called the SABR Defensive Index, comprises 25% of the vote.

Finalists for the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards were also announced on Monday. The three Cardinals up for the award are 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Nolan Arenado, and LF Tyler O’Neill. Like the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger recognizes the best performer at each position in each league, but for offense. A difference with this award is that the three outfield winners are not position specific.

Managers and coaches vote for the award and may not vote for their own player. Several offensive categories are considered, including OBP, SLG and AVG.

The Silver Slugger winners will be announced on November 11 at 5 pm CT on MLB Network.

Paul Goldschmidt

The winners of the Fielding Bible Awards were announced at the same time as the finalists for the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. The Fielding Bible Award is for the top defensive player at each position in the majors in total. This award is determined by a panel of baseball experts based on sabermetric analysis. There are no finalists involved – the winners are announced on the Fielding Bible website, and via social media.

Tyler O’Neill

Two Cardinals won Fielding Bible Awards in 2021. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt receives his fourth Fielding Bible Award. Left fielder Tyler O’Neill is a repeat winner, having won the award in 2020. In 2021, O’Neill had the highest vote total of any player.

Michael Girsch (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Girsch stays put

Cardinals Vice President and General Manager Michael Girsch reportedly declined to be interviewed for the open GM position with the New York Mets.

The 44-year-old was promoted into his current position from assistant GM in June 2017 and has been with the Cardinals organization since 2006.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 10/25 The Cardinals designated RHP Justin Miller for assignment.
  • 10/25 The Cardinals activated RHP Jordan Hicks from the 60-day injured list.
  • 10/27 The Cardinals sent RHP Justin Miller outright to the Memphis Redbirds. Miller declared free agency.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

When the postseason ends, the offseason begins with the election of free agency for eligible players. This is official at 9 am on the morning after the end of the World Series. Following a five-day exclusive window to negotiate with their former team, all free agents can then sign with other teams.

The Cardinals have nine players set to become free agents absent being re-signed by the Cardinals. This list does not include Nolan Arenado, who has an opt-out clause in his contract but has notified the team he does not intend to exercise it. The nine are Matt Carpenter, Andrew Miller, Carlos Martinez, Kwang-Hyun Kim, J.A Happ, Jon Lester, T.J. McFarland, Luis Garcia, and Wade LeBlanc.

The team holds 2022 options for Carpenter and Martinez that they are not expected to pick up. Garcia and McFarland may be re-signed for 2022 if deals can be reached. Miller is not likely to be made an offer. The remaining players may or may not be returning to the Cardinals, either on a major league or a minor league deal.

Teams can also make Qualifying Offers to eligible free agents, a one-year contract at $18.9 million. The deadline for teams to tender the Qualifying Offer is 4 pm CT on the fifth day following the World Series. The Cardinals are not expected to make a qualifying offer to any of their free agents.

In other free agency news, former Cardinals’ reliever Justin Miller has elected minor league free agency. Miller was designated for assignment last week and exercised his right to leave the organization after no other organization claimed him off waivers.

Justin Miller

Blast from the Past

Once the postseason ends, the offseason officially begins. The first moves of the offseason come on the morning after the end of the World Series, when eligible free agents can officially elect free agent status.

The Cardinals have nine players set to enter free agency. Of those nine, two are long term Cardinals who will likely be moving on to other teams. The team has 2022 options on both, which they are not expected to exercise.

Blast from the Past looks at the careers of those two homegrown Cardinalss, beginning this week with 11-year veteran Matt Carpenter.

Matt Carpenter

Carpenter was selected by the Cardinals in 13th round of the 2009 MLB draft as a fifth-year senior, older than most draft picks at age 23. The native Texan had played baseball at Texas Christian University. He spent 2009, 2010 and parts of 2011 in the minor league system before being briefly called up on June 4, 2011. Carpenter appeared in seven games that season.

Carpenter made the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training in 2012. The infielder served as a backup third baseman and spot starter at other positions, including first base. He made his first appearance at second base in July 2012. He hit his first postseason home run in Game 3 of the 2012 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.

After the 2012 season, Carpenter was asked to work out at second base in anticipation of him possibly playing there full time. Carpenter made the 2013 roster out of Spring Training as the starting second baseman. Carpenter was moved to the leadoff position that season and excelled at it. His offensive production earned him his first election to the National League All-Star team. He hit his 54th double on September 21st, breaking Stan Musial’s record for doubles by a left-handed batter in a season. He finished the 2013 season leading the NL in doubles, hits, and runs scored. His final slash line was .318/.392/.481.

Following the 2013 season, Carpenter received his first Silver Slugger Award, the first winner at second base in franchise history. He finished fourth in the NL MVP balloting. The Cardinals signed Carpenter in March 2014 to a six-year $52 million dollar extension to run through the 2019 season.

With the call up of second base prospect Kolten Wong from the minor leagues in 2014, Carpenter moved back to his natural position, third base. Carpenter earned his second All-Star selection that season and slashed .272/.375/.375 while leading the NL in walks with 95. Carpenter hit .375/.412/1.125 in 17 plate appearances in the NLDS against the Dodgers, including three home runs and 7 RBI. He hit a home run and a double in each of the first three games of the NLDS, becoming the first player to do so in the postseason.

Carpenter endured setbacks in 2015. He was moved out of the lead off position and endured a three-month slump. He also was diagnosed with “extreme fatigue” due to dehydration and an accelerated heart rate that took him out for a short time. Carpenter was returned to the lead off position on July 30 and had his first multi home run game of his career.

His transition from an on-base type to a power-hitting batter seemed underway. He finished the season with a line of .272/.365/.505 and had his first 20 home run season with 28 long balls. He also led the NL in doubles with 44.

Carpenter hit his first career walk off home run on May 7, 2016. His 1.008 OPS for the first half of the 2016 season earned him his third All-Star selection, as a reserve. He suffered an abdominal oblique strain in July and was out for a month. After he returned from the DL, his hitting suffered as he was still unable to swing properly. He hit only .229 with a .726 OPS after returning.

Carpenter was made the primary first baseman to begin the 2017 season. He suffered injuries during the season, including repeated occurrences of shoulder inflammation. Carpenter slashed .241/.343/.395. His diminished offense was blamed by some on being moved around in the lineup by manager Mike Matheny. Carpenter did have his third consecutive season with at least 20 home runs.

Matt Carpenter and Whitey Herzog (USA TODAY Sports)

Carpenter’s 2018 season began with a prolonged slump at the plate. From Opening Day through May 15, he hit only .140 with an OPS of .558. His offense picked up after that and on June 26 he became the first player in franchise history to have five hits, score five runs and hit two home runs in a single game. His offense improved enough by mid-season to be nominated for one of the Final Vote candidates for the All-Star Game, but he lost out to Jesus Aguilar of the Brewers. Carpenter finished 2018 with a line of .257/.374/.523 and hit a career high 36 home runs. He finished ninth in the MVP voting.

In April 2019, as part of a flurry of player extensions being granted across MLB, the Cardinals signed Carpenter to a two-year extension for $39 million, with a team option for 2022. The move, made a year before he would be eligible for free agency, turned out to be a poor decision.  Carpenter spent periods of time on the IL with back issues and an injured foot from a foul ball. His slash line for 2019 was a dismal .226/.334/.392. He also hit only 15 home runs in 2019.

In the shortened 2020 season, Carpenter played in 50 of the 59 games with a slash line of .186/.325/.314, a career low.

By 2021, Carpenter was relegated to a bench player and spot starter after the Cardinals acquired third baseman Nolan Arenado and Tommy Edman took over second base from the departed Kolten Wong. Carpenter made one appearance pitching in a blowout against the Padres on May 15. He finished the season hitting .169/.305/.275.

Carpenter’s 11-year career with the Cardinals may be ending with a whimper, but his offensive performances from 2011 through 2018 put him in the upper echelon of Cardinals hitters. The 35-year-old has said he wants to continue playing, but if so, it will most likely be with another team. One could safely say that Carpenter’s good years outweighed the bad and Cardinals fans would do well to wish him luck in the future.


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