ST. LOUIS -- Asked about the direction the Cardinals' organization will go after Mike Shildt was relieved of his managerial duties on Thursday, president of baseball John Mozeliak immediately pointed to “some quality internal candidates” who can lead St. Louis into its next phase. That tenor has carried throughout the organization’s lengthy and successful history.
“We're an organization that has a trust in creating a pipeline from our Minor League system to our big leagues, for both players and staff,” Mozeliak said. “We are a typical organization that tries to stay internal with what we're trying to do and try to help individuals grow into these roles.”
That seems to bode well for several candidates in particular to be the next manager of the Cardinals, especially for a few on the big league staff. Mozeliak, who hired Shildt and Mike Matheny, acknowledged that his staff will take a few days to regroup and hope to have a new manager pinned down no later than mid-November. Meanwhile, the Padres and Mets are two other teams looking to fill managerial vacancies.
This is rather uncharted territory. Buoyed by a long list of Hall of Fame managers, including just three managers in total since 1996, St. Louis will look to inject some consistency into its next foray into the 21st century. Shildt was the first full-time Cards manager in 40 years to not serve for more than three full seasons.; Ken Boyer was hired for 1979 and replaced partway into ’80.
“We're proud of the fact that we've had that continuity, we're proud that we've had the ability to promote from within and have people from our system advance,” Mozeliak said. “Candidly, I hope we can continue to do that.”
No matter the candidate, the Cardinals are looking for a manager who will integrate the front-office philosophy with on-field play, something Mozeliak said “hit a head” with Shildt. Here’s who they may look into:
Current position: St. Louis first-base coach/infield coordinator
If an internal candidate is preferred -- and one who knows the organization well -- Clapp may be the most logical fit. Before joining the big league club in 2019, he was managing Triple-A Memphis, leading the Redbirds to back-to-back Pacific Coast League titles and the Triple-A championship in 2018. He’s looked up to for his grit, selected by St. Louis in the 36th round in the 1996 Draft, is the only player with his number retired by Memphis, and he was the recipient of the organization’s George Kissell Award for excellence in player development in 2017.
Also working to Clapp’s favor is that he’s interviewed for managerial openings in the past, showing the value others have placed on him and the risk of potentially losing him should he not be handed the reins.
Current position: Cardinals bench coach
No current member of St. Louis’ organization may be more groomed for an opportunity like this than Marmol. The only question is if the timing is right. Marmol, 35, is coming off his third season as Shildt’s bench coach, previously holding first-base duties the two years prior. He’s been lauded as a future manager, responsible for such duties in the lower rungs of the Cardinals’ affiliates in years past, and has earned immense respect from both inside and outside the clubhouse.
Marmol, a native Spanish speaker, would be the first person of color to manage the Cards.
Current position: Padres associate manager
Schumaker has two things working for him. First, he’s well intertwined with Mozeliak -- drafted under his leadership in 2001 -- and knows the operating history of the Cardinals as a member of the 2011 World Series squad. Second, he’s garnered wide praise as San Diego’s bench coach, blending analytics, a feel for the game and a rapport with players while he’s helped lead one of the youngest, most exciting teams in baseball. Schumaker is a fan favorite who has shot up the Major League coaching tree. Could his first managerial shot come in his old home?
Current position: Volunteer assistant coach at Oklahoma State
This is the most out of the box of the bunch, but an option nonetheless. Holliday was a World Series winner for St. Louis and one of its best overall players this century. He’s from a coaching family, currently serving under his brother in the collegiate ranks after his father was a longtime coach at Oklahoma State as well. What’s more, Holliday and Nolan Arenado are close friends. Should the Cards deviate from the expected path, Holliday may be on their list.
Current position: MLB Network analyst
Should the Cardinals opt for a more experienced manager, could Showalter be the option? Working against him is that he has a reputation for being more hands-on in his approach, not stymying analytics per se but more from the old-school thought processes. Mozeliak was blunt in saying that the organization wants someone on the same page, someone who will integrate himself into the front office’s methods. The Cards as well have a clubhouse chock-full of veterans and NL MVP Award candidates who have done well in setting and continuing the organizational culture. To that end, managerial veterans like Showalter, Ron Washington, Brad Ausmus, John Gibbons and Jeff Banister might not find themselves in the mix.