I think Mike Matheny got off on the right foot with his naming of the 2012 Cardinals coaching staff a few days ago. To break it down, Dave Duncan will remain as pitching coach, Jose Oquendo will remain as the third base coach, Mark McGwire will return as hitting coach, and Derek Lilliquist will remain as the bullpen coach.
Mike Aldrete was promoted from assistant hitting coach to the bench coach, and the manager of the AAA Memphis Redbirds, Chris Maloney, will be the new first base coach. Aldrete and Maloney will take over for Dave McKay and Joe Pettini, but both Pettini and McKay will remain with the team in the baseball operations department.
I think this is a win-win for everyone involved. The only person who may feel a little slighted is Oquendo, but I heard the guys on the Bernie show the other day talking about a couple of good points regarding that situation. Their thoughts were that Matheny would need to have a sit-down with Oquendo and see how he feels about possibly being passed over. If he felt that way, he would need to go, if not, he should stay. None of us are sure if that conversation took place, but I doubt Matheny would have kept Oquendo on his staff if Oquendo wasn’t 100% committed to being back in the same role.
Oquendo may have a job someday as a major league manager. At this point, he’s interviewed for 3 MLB teams who haven’t chosen him. The only problem I could see is that Oquendo may have a problem in dealing with the media. Another problem that I can see is that Albert Pujols has run through the stop sign from Oquendo at third base so many times, and it may have presented a confrontation here and there. On the other hand, it appears from all the things said that Pujols would have endorsed Oquendo as the manager. That is pure speculation, but it’s just my humble opinion.
I think the promotion of Maloney was a great choice. It was important for everyone in the Cardinals minor league system, including the players, coaches and managers. It was important for everyone because it shows them that there is light at the end of the tunnel to the majors, and paying your dues will pay off and get you there.
There were a few rumors out there that Pujols was going to re-sign with the Cardinals on Friday. JC Corcoran of KTRS-550 said in a tweet that Albert would announce on Friday that he’s re-signing with the Cardinals. John Mozeliak was quick to shoot down the rumor by sending an email to MLB.com reporter Matthew Leach that simply said “No truth, zero.”
Apparently, there was no truth to the rumor. I think Pujols agent, Dan Lozano is going to draw this thing out as long as possible, but I’m just not sure the market is there. It really must be a nightmare for Lozano and Pujols at this point. The Yankees have Mark Teixeira, the Red Sox have Adrian Gonzalez, the Phillies have $125 million invested in the injured Ryan Howard, but have added Jim Thome and looking to add Michael Cuddyer. The Dodgers have money problems but just gave Matt Kemp $160 million, and the Marlins look like they are more interested in signing Jose Reyes to play shortstop and move Hanley Ramirez to third base.
I still think the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Washington Nationals may be in the mix, but it just doesn’t seem possible that Pujols is going to get his $300 million. If the reports are true about the Cardinals offering Pujols $210 million for 9 years, I really think it’s a big mistake. The problem is will another team top the offer? I hope so, because Albert just doesn’t move the same, will be 32 in January, and paying the type of money would only be for past performance. It might allow the fans to see a few milestones, but it’s not worth sacrificing the team in the long run. What will happen to players like Adam Wainwright in 2014? He will be gone if the Cards re-sign Pujols, along with a lot of others.
Now that the Cardinals coaching staff is in place, all eyes are on Albert. I started the comparisons a week ago about the reasons why the Cardinals shouldn’t offer him a big contract, and I’m going to continue to show the examples of HOF players that have completely fallen apart after the age of 35. I’ll get the entries going on that in the next few days.