Coaching staff changes made; Oquendo out
ST. LOUIS -- A coaching staff that endured a summer shakeup will undergo another wave of change this offseason as the Cardinals deal with the domino effect of losing long-time third-base coach Jose Oquendo for a second time.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced Tuesday that Oquendo expressed a preference to find a coaching opportunity that would allow him to work near his home in Jupiter, Fla. As a result, Oquendo will leave manager Mike Shildt's coaching staff to take on an instruction role with Minor League players. He'll work primarily out of the club's Florida complex.
Oquendo informed Mozeliak of his decision the week after the season ended.
"There's no doubt he's going to be a loss," Mozeliak said. "I'm glad he's staying in our organization. I think he brings value to our Minor Leagues, and he can help keep a pulse of what's going on."
Oquendo had returned to the Major League coaching staff in 2018 following a two-year hiatus during which he recovered from multiple knee surgeries. During his time away, Oquendo served as a special assistant to Mozeliak. With 17 seasons as a third-base coach, Oquendo was the longest-tenured coach on Shildt's staff.
Oquendo's departure prompted a necessary reshuffling of other coaching roles. Ron "Pop" Warner, who took over as bench coach in July, will be installed as the new third-base coach. Oliver Marmol, the team's first-base coach last year, will become Shildt's bench coach. He'll also continue to assist with infield instruction and will play a significant role in scripting Spring Training.
Mark Budaska will remain as an assistant hitting coach, while George Greer is slated to return to his role as offensive strategist within the player development system. Both hitting instructors joined the Cardinals midseason after Shildt was installed as manager.
Mike Maddux (pitching coach), Bryan Eversgerd (bullpen coach) and Willie McGee will all return to their same coaching positions.
That leaves two openings -- hitting coach and first-base coach -- still to be filled. Mozeliak confirmed that there is a "high probability" that Triple-A manager Stubby Clapp will assume one of those positions if he doesn't leave the organization for another opportunity.
There is speculation that Clapp is under consideration for the Blue Jays managerial job. Mozeliak would not comment on those rumors.
Clapp has led Memphis to back-to-back Pacific Coast League championships.
The Cardinals will simultaneously consider other internal and external candidates for the Major League coaching vacancies. Speaking specifically of the hitting coach job, Mozeliak said the organization will seek out candidates who are strongly suited to assist players with preparation and strategy.
"When you think about style or approach, really you want to be able to maximize what you're good at," Mozeliak said. "Having someone fit what our club looks like is more important than trying to bring someone in to change the club. Because it's hard to do that. And [we want someone] trying to understand what our strengths are as hitters. As we look to hire this, there will be an internal deep dive also into what this should look like so we can help whomever comes in here to hit the ground running to work toward those strengths."
Clapp's departure from Memphis -- whether it be to come to St. Louis or elsewhere -- will also prompt a cascade of coaching/managerial changes within the Cardinals' Minor League system. Those will be addressed later in the offseason.
"All of you who have been around me for a long time, we've always tried to emphasize our Minor Leagues and that being our strength," Mozeliak said. "There is no doubt this is going to create some churn."