Fans are demanding the firing of Oli Marmol. He’s an easy scapegoat, but to an enraged fan base Marmol’s managerial skills or perceived flaws are largely irrelevant to the much larger picture.

The public just wants someone to pay for the team’s .430 winning percentage since the start of 2023. And I understand that. Believe it or not, I get just as disgusted as you do … because I like writing and talking about winning, high-stakes baseball. But over the last two seasons only Colorado has a lower and more loathsome winning percentage than St. Louis among NL teams.

If the Cardinals fire Marmol, this dismissal will be made for a simple reason: it would please the fans, temporarily change the subject, and give the top of the organization ownership a chance for cover. If this slow start is the manager’s fault, then what does it say about the front office and ownership? Did they not put Marmol in the job? Did they not extend his contract before this season?

The fans aren’t stupid. They want Mozeliak gone, probably more than they want Marmol gone. But removing Marmol would give ownership-management a chance to answer one constant and justified criticism – the absence of accountability. Kicking out the manager presumably will show that the guardians of the franchise believe in accountability … except, of course, when it applies to those who are running this baseball operation.

I got a kick out of comments made by Mozeliak during his weekly appearance on KMOX. He seemingly declared that his job was on the line. He has offered variations of that theme in the past, but not like this.

“These are times that are difficult,” Mozeliak said, and thanks to John Denton of MLB.com for passing this along to his (and other) readers. “I still think (Oli) understands the job, I think he knows how to manage, and I think he is trying to put the right combination of player in, but at some level you’ve got to have some performance.

“Yeah, I understand fans are not happy with myself, and they’re not happy with Oli. I don’t think anything I say here today is going to change that. We have to keep trying to go back and get this to work, and we understand if it doesn’t, people are going to be held accountable and ultimately that starts with me.”

I approve of the framing and spirit of Mozeliak’s comments and how he publicly put himself out there on a hot-spot list. But I’m not prepared to actually buy into it. Not yet.

Are we really supposed to believe that chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. will hold Mozeliak responsible for the organization’s ongoing failure and remove him from office or transfer “Mo” to a lesser assignment? And what about general manager Michael Girsch and scouting director Randy Flores? Are they vested in the free-pass plan?

Mozeliak’s contract is set to expire after the 2025 season. If he’s supposedly accountable to DeWitt, then I would suggest this: Mo can be accountable to himself by walking away if things don’t improve. I’m just making a point here. Mozeliak can do what he wants, and I’m not doing the fake tough-guy grandstanding act. I’m just noting that he doesn’t have to stay. And Mozeliak doesn’t have to stay in the job until his contract expires following the 2025 season. A peaceful transition to Chaim Bloom after the 2024 season is logical. We’ll see. And this scenario assumes that Chaim wants the job, and is preparing accordingly.

Mozeliak could be burned out. He could have reached a point of accepting that he’s lost the touch in evaluating talent, assessing value in payroll decisions, or keeping the Cardinals in pace with evolving industry standards. They have fallen behind in so many areas it’s almost difficult to believe; when Mozeliak first took over the baseball office the Cardinals were ahead of just about every organization thanks to DeWitt’s shrewd hiring of trendsetter Jeff Luhnow.

I’ve pointed this out several times, but let’s do it again:

+ In Mozeliak’s first eight seasons of running the baseball department (2008-2015) the Cardinals were second in the majors in both regular-season winning percentage (.562) and postseason victories (32.) And no MLB franchise competed in as many playoff games (64) than St. Louis. The 64 playoff games were 16 more than the Giants, the next team in line. The Cardinals played postseason ball in six of eight seasons, made it to the NLCS four times, won two NL pennants, and captured the 2011 World Series.

+ In Mozeliak’s next eight seasons (2016-2023), the Cardinals ranked 10th in regular-season winning percentage (.530), missed making the playoffs four times, and won only four postseason games. The postseason downturn includes one postseason series win (in 2019). The Cardinals have competed in one NLCS in the past eight seasons and got swept by Washington in 2019. St. Louis is 1-9 in its last 10 postseason games and 6-18 in the last 24 postseason games.

(The 6-18 dates back to the start of the 2014 NLCS. And if we include this year’s 2024 winning percentage, the Cardinals are down to .526 since the start of 2016 – a drop of 36 percentage points from Mozeliak’s first eight seasons.)

The two numbers that hit home harder than any other, and I’ll repeat it again: 32 postseason wins in Mozeliak’s first eight seasons, and only four in his next eight seasons.

Are we going to put that disintegration on the managers put into place by Mozeliak? Mike Matheny, Mike Shildt and Marmol … this was, or is, their fault?

Please.

The Cardinals squander payroll on poor personnel decisions, contract decisions and extensions. They’ve failed to draft and develop quality and sustainable starting pitching, and have watched one young hitter after another struggle here and prosper offensively in their next stop in a new environment. We can also apply this to pitcher Jordan Hicks – at least so far. He has a 2.30 ERA in his first eight starts for the Giants.

So …

All of this is on Marmol, or something? Is that what the men who run the Cardinals want us to believe? Is this what some fans want us to believe? That Marmol is responsible/accountable for the decline of the overall player-development system, the payroll mistakes, the poor results in pitcher development and the repeated malfunctions of their young hitters?

Yo. Marmol wasn’t managing when the Cardinals moved on from Randy Arozarena, Adolis Garcia, Lane Thomas or a few others I could mention. Marmol didn’t trade away pitching prospects Zac Gallen and Sandy Alcantara. He didn’t draft starting pitchers Michael McGreevy, Griffin Roberts, Zack Thompson (among others) early in the draft.

And as for 2024, I don’t think Marmol told Mozeliak something like, “Hey, I’m thrilled beyond belief to go into another season planning to have Steven Matz in the rotation, and I can’t wait!”

Marmol isn’t calling the shots when the Cardinals take a cheaper approach in bidding for the most elite prospects in the international market. Marmol wasn’t in charge as the analytics department sharply declined, and he wasn’t the guy who delayed the construction and implementation of a pitching lab to enhance pitching performance. I could add other items to this organizational-decline list, but you get the point.

If Marmol gets sacked, his bosses obviously hope that most fans and media will forget that this is the same regime that terminated Shildt after the 2021 season, installed Marmol before 2022, and handed him a two-year contract extension after the 2023 Cardinals had their worst full-season record since 1990. And the contract gift came after Mozeliak had declared a plan to have Marmol go into the season, and proceed from there before making any determinations about the manager’s future.

Firing Marmol would leave the current front-office regime with an 0 for 3 showing in hiring managers. So let me get this straight: YOU WANT THEM TO CHOOSE THE NEXT MANAGER? (Sorry for my loud typing there.)

If Bloom is the successor, and the transition happens sooner than anticipated, wouldn’t you want to leave it up to him to choose the next manager? With the current leadership in place, I suppose the Cardinals will probably do what the Cardinals do: bring in a manager who can reactivate the nostalgia-revenue machine in an attempt to lure fans into having another wave of warm and happy thoughts over past achievements.

Which is pretty much all the Cardinals have to sell. Glorifying the past is more satisfying than dwelling on present-day debacles. This franchise hasn’t hired a manager from outside the organization since GM Walt Jocketty recruited Tony La Russa before the 1996 season.

Why are DeWitt and Mozeliak so wary of outsiders for the manager’s job? The fans have accused them of wanting to control inexperienced managers instead of having to deal with pushback from an accomplished manager that has a strong personality. Are the fans right about this?

If the Cardinals fire Marmol, just remember this: the people doing the firing have declined to fire themselves. And they’re absolutely responsible for the decline of the St. Louis franchise as an on-field power.

BIRD BYTES

1. Cards Win! Cards Win! Cards Win! I’ll hold off dancing live and without a shirt on TikTok because the Cardinals (16-24) finally won a ballgame at Milwaukee to break a seven-game losing streak. Even with the triumph the Cardinals are 3-10 in their last 13 games and 7-15 since April 17. And they trail first-place Milwaukee by eight games, and the second-place Cubs by 7 and ½. And they’re still in last place and need to get on an extensive run of success to level their record at. 500.

2. Gotta Star Winning Some Series: In losing three of four at Milwaukee, the Cardinals dropped their fourth consecutive series. The streak began by losing two of three in Detroit, and followed by series losses to the horrendous White Sox, beatable Mets and the Brewers. The Cardinals won two of their first three series played this season but since have lost eight of 10 series including their last four.

3. The Cardinals are in Anaheim for three games in a series that begins Monday night. The Angels have lost six out of nine to fall to 15-26, and they don’t have Mike Trout in the lineup to engage the Cardinals in this tense conflict. (He’s down with a knee injury.) What do you want me to say? The Cardinals can win this series but we thought they’d triumph over the White Sox at Busch Stadium and got embarrassed instead. All wins count the same. Win a damn series.

4. The Cardinals have averaged 2.5 runs per game since catcher Willson Contreras went to the IL to undergo surgery for a broken left forearm.

5. The positives from the 1-3 weekend in Wisconsin:

Ivan Herrera and Michael Siani each went 5-11 (.455.)

Matt Carpenter ignited some offense by going 3 for 8 (.375) with a walk. He looked good. I liked Marmol’s decision to bat him leadoff.

Paul Goldschmidt went 2 for 5 with a homer and two important RBIs in Sunday’s 4-3 win.

In his last three games at Milwaukee Nolan Gorman went 3 for 7 with three walks, a double, a homer and two RBIs.

Lars Nootbaar looked better at the plate and went 4 for 8 with three walks on Saturday-Sunday. But can he keep it up? We’ve seen this before. Consistency is the issue.

The Cardinals had 12 hits Saturday and followed with 11 on Sunday. That’s an eruption!

Miles Mikolas doggedly held the Brewers off after giving up three runs in the first inning Sunday. From there he pitched five scoreless innings. The Cardinals don’t win that game unless Mikolas pulled it together.

It’s a joy to watch shortstop Masyn Winn play defense.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.