St. Louis Cardinals vs Atlanta Braves

St. Louis Cardinals first base coach Oliver Marmol (37) talks with St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader (48) at first base during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Ryan Michalesko, rmichalesko@post-dispatch.com

TownNews.com Content Exchange

Newly named St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol and President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak discuss the role of the front office and the manager.

HOUSTON — The opportunity many in the Cardinals' organization saw coming for young, rising coach Oliver Marmol in the future arrived sooner than expected, far more quickly than they anticipated they would have an opening.

Marmol, 14 years after being drafted by the Cardinals, was named the 51st manager of the team, chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. announced Monday morning.

In an opening statement, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak conceded that he did not expect to have to hire a manager this winter, did not expect a manager search to absorb several weeks of October, but did see the potential in Marmol to some day be manager.

Some day is just sooner than expected.  

"Perhaps the simplest question is, 'Why Oli Marmol?'" Mozeliak said. "So let me try to answer that. Oli understands what we've been trying to do, what we need to do, and what we want to do in the future. Oli has a long history of being a part of the Cardinals organization. ...

"He is the right man for this job at this time," Mozeliak concluded. 

Marmol, 35, immediately becomes the youngest manager in the majors, the only manager in his 30s and younger than most of the starting pitchers the Cardinals had in their rotation during the 17-game winning streak.

He and the team have agreed on a three-year contract, taking him through the 2024 season.

Raised in Florida with family roots in the Dominican Republic, Marmol is the first person of color to manage the Cardinals in more than five decades. During the press conference to introduce him as manager, Marmol outlined what it meant to him to come from growing up in Miami and elsewhere in Florida to being offered the job of managing the Cardinals.

"It's meaningful, it really is," he said. "If you just rewind to some of the neighborhoods we lived in early on (in) Miami, you look at, and these opportunities don't come across the table to the majority of the people that grew up like that. For them to be able to see someone of color in a position of leadership, especially a winning franchise with the history the St. Louis Cardinals have, is extremely meaningful." 

In the days after his mentor and champion, former manager Mike Shildt, was fired, Marmol said he did want some "clarity" from the Cardinals about the role that he'd have a shot at earning.

He said in conversations with Mozeliak, DeWitt, and general manager Michael Girsch they had some "real" exchanges about what the organization was looking for in a manager and looking for from that role. Once he had that understanding, the rarity of the offer also came into view.

He spoke with Shildt before accepting the job, Marmol said.

President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak discusses why the team hired Oliver Marmol as the new manger. Marmol also says he talked with Shildt after accepting the position.

"Not many people get to manage," he said. "Definitely not for an organization like this."

Within the first 24 hours of his hiring, Marmol said he spoke with Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado, and he agreed that his first week in the role will be important as he reaches out as manager, not coach or, in some cases, peer.

Mozeliak acknowledged early in Monday's press conference that he and the organization were "vague" with their explanation about why Shildt as fired after a 90-win season and a third consecutive year in the postseason. He did not drill into details, but was more expansive Monday saying that there were "internal issues that we could not solve." The rupture was not as simply as the "philosophical difference" originally advertised and went to a clash over the direction of the team, its traditional approaches, and the motivations driving some changes. 

Mozeliak said when the team left Los Angeles the day after losing the wild-card game he did not expect to have an opening at manager. He had told the Post-Dispatch the day before there was interest in extending Shildt and bringing all of the coaches back.

He pivoted quickly back to stressing the day should be about the hiring of Marmol, not a review of the unexpected path that led to the opening.

Mozeliak offered some thought on the modern manager's role.

"Ultimately, we're hiring him to be the manager," he said. "So he'll have some autonomy."

Marmol was precise in his view of the modern manager's goal.

"Losing in the wild-card game or losing in the championship series (is some success)," he said. "But at the end of the day, a championship is the goal. And this is no different." 

A 2007 draft pick of the Cardinals, Marmol moved to coaching within a month of his release in the minors, starting with the Cardinals' Fourth Coach program.

His first manager position was rookie-ball Johnson City, and he managed at two higher levels before joining the major-league staff as first-base coach in 2017. When Shildt moved to manager in July of the next season, Shildt named his close confidant as bench coach. The two had known each other since Shildt scouted and signed Marmol out of college.

Marmol spent the previous three seasons as Shildt's bench coach and was in discussions with the team on a new contract when Shildt was fired.

When addressing the youth of his new manager, DeWitt repeated a phrase he has used often around the back fields of Jupiter, Fla., and in the boardrooms of Busch Stadium: "I'd rather have talent than experience."

"He fit that bill," DeWitt continued. "He fortunately had experience, he paid his dues along the way, (and) when he got to the big-league level as a coach he kept getting picked for better opportunities. Great knowledge of the game, good relationships with all the players and staff. He’s been an impressive talent coming through the system."

That is a philosophy the Cardinals, guided by DeWitt, have long wanted to agree on.

In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman shares thoughts on Oliver Marmol, Mike Shildt’s replacement as Cardinals manager (who was Mike Shildt’s close confidant). And, as always, Hochman chooses a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat.

Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson break down the manager's clash with the front office and introduce the candidates the Cardinals could consider as they search for a replacement who won't stray from the front office's script

Derrick Goold

@dgoold on Twitter

dgoold@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

TownNews.com Content Exchange