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Marmol new Cards manager, youngest in MLB

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Published in Baseball
Monday, 25 October 2021 17:48

The St. Louis Cardinals have hired Oliver "Oli" Marmol as their new manager.

Marmol has been the Cardinals' bench coach the past two seasons. He was the favorite from the start of the search, and he worked his way up with the team since being drafted by St. Louis in 2007.

At 35, Marmol becomes the youngest active manager in Major League Baseball and the youngest to manage any team on Opening Day since Eric Wedge, who was 35 with Cleveland in 2003. He'll be the youngest to manage the Cardinals since Marty Marion, who was 34 in 1951, and is younger than eight Cardinals players who appeared in a game this past season, including Yadier Molina (39) and Adam Wainwright (40).

"I really felt like Oli was going to be a major league manager at some point. I did not think it was necessarily going to be 2022," said John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations.

Marmol replaces Mike Shildt, who -- despite a team-record 17-game winning streak that carried the Cardinals to a wild-card berth -- was fired earlier this month following the team's playoff loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Mozeliak cited "philosophical differences" to explain Shildt's dismissal at the time. He declined to expand on those differences, saying the move was "something that popped up recently."

He noted that Shildt was heading into the final year of his contract but said that wasn't the sole reason for parting ways. Shildt had signed a three-year extension after the 2019 season.

After Shildt was dismissed, Mozeliak mulled over going outside the organization versus staying internally. He settled on Marmol, looking for continuity and counting on him to build on what he learned from mentors like Shildt.

"Oli's going to have his own voice. He's going to be able to put his own fingerprints on this," Mozeliak said. "Ultimately you hope and expect that he learned to do things in his own way, and one that he has a lot of confidence in."

Marmol sounded some of baseball's most popular notes on his first official day in his new role. Asked about the modern manager, Marmol described a collaborative process with departments throughout the organization.

"There's just so much information at hand that can be used and when you work in a collaborative manner with the front office and your analytics department, it allows you to get feedback on are the decisions you're making sustainable over 162 (games),'' he said.

Marmol said he had conversations with Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr., Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch that produced "complete clarity'' when it comes to their expectations for the position.

When Marmol got the job, he talked it over with his wife, Amber, and they were excited about the opportunity. But Marmol said he had some mixed emotions because of his relationship with Shildt.

"It was good to be able to, once everything got cleared up and we came to terms, to have that conversation with Mike and receive his support for moving this organization forward," he said.

Marmol, who grew up in New Jersey and traces his lineage to the Dominican Republic, becomes the Cardinals' second minority manager. Cuban-born Mike Gonzalez managed the franchise for parts of the 1938 and 1940 seasons.

"Some of the neighborhoods we lived in early on ... these opportunities don't come across the table to the majority of the people that grew up like that,'' Marmol said. "For them to be able to identify and see someone of color in a position of leadership, especially for a franchise, a winning franchise, one with a history that the St. Louis Cardinals has, is extremely meaningful.''

St. Louis picked Marmol in the sixth round of the 2007 amateur draft out of the College of Charleston, and he had a brief minor league playing career. After coaching and managing in the minors, he was named the Cardinals' first-base coach in 2017 before taking over as bench coach in 2019.

Marmol takes over a club that expects to contend again after finishing second in the NL Central behind Milwaukee. Wainwright and Molina are signed for next season, and key sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are expected to help anchor the lineup.

"A championship is the goal, and anything less than that, it is a disappointment," Marmol said. "This year, in 2022, is no different."

The Associated Press and ESPN staff writer Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.

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