Here are the playoffs, and there go the playoffs. The Cardinals, like their National League Central predecessors the past two years, were swept out of the playoffs by NL West teams. Now, the Cardinals need to look ahead.
I have already written an article about the Cardinals coaching staff, but some new information has come to light, as well as changing opinions. So, here is my revised coaching staff article. Enjoy.
Jose Oquendo still needs to be made the next manager. The Cardinals are walking a fine line with Albert Pujols and bringing in a completely new voice could break the chances the Cardinals have to re-up with the best slugger in recent memory.
Oquendo knows the team and the organization inside and out. He has a good working relationship with General Manager John Mozeliak, not to mention with the ownership group led by Bill DeWitt.
Most of all, the players trust Oquendo. They know he will always have their back and that he deserves this job more than anyone else in baseball. He has paid his dues and it is time. If not for the Cardinals, it will be elsewhere.
I am changing my pick for the next pitching coach. I had Marty Mason pegged as the man behind the binder for the Cardinals, but not anymore.
Mason deserves to be a pitching coach, but he is far too valuable in the bullpen for the Cardinals. For the starting staff, the Cardinals need a completely different voice. Rick Peterson would be the best option.
Peterson is great when working with pitchers. He isn't Dave Duncan, but when you list the best pitching coaches over the past two decades, Peterson's name isn't too far behind Duncan.
It is true the Milwaukee Brewers are trying to obtain Peterson for their vacancy, but the Cardinals could pull him away. If they cannot pull him down, they need to stay outside of the organization.
The other top candidates would be: Mike Matheny (have to start coaching somewhere), Todd Worrell, John Farell, Leo Mazzone, John Wetteland (if Mason is promoted to pitching coach, Wetteland would be the bullpen coach), and Dennis Eckersley.
For hitting coach, the Cardinals could run into severe problems. I had Hal McRae pegged to retain his job, but things change over eight months. Players have tried not throw McRae under the bus, but as they avoided doing so, they implied that they did not want him back.
For the job, the Cardinals will run into issues filling the role. The obvious choice, no matter anyone's sentiments towards him, would be Mark McGwire. As he is unlikely to take up the job due to the issues surrounding him and the media that would follow him everywhere if he took up the helm, someone else needs to come onboard.
Other possible candidates would be Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders, Bill Mueller, and the Colorado Rockies hitting coordinator Jimmy Johnson. Can't go wrong with the first three.
Johnson would be an interesting pick. He has been with the Rockies system for several years and would represent a changing philosophy on hitting, something that needs to happen after three lackluster years under McRae.
Joe Petini should remain as bench coach. He handles the job well, the players trust him, and is connected with Oquendo. A change there is not necessary.
First base coach is a different story. Dave McKay should not be replaced, but he will be. Not for any reason you can think of, but for one that some did not see coming: retirement.
McKay is looking to retire after the season, and he more than likely will if Tony La Russa moves on, even if Oquendo takes over.
The best replacement would be Willie McGee. Fans would welcome this addition to the coaching staff with open arms, and McGee is a great influence on players, even as a coach.
If McGee will not take the job, or is not offered the job, this spot will be filled from within. Petini would be represent the best Plan B. Along with Petini, Derrick May (Double A Springfield's hitting coach) and Chris Maloney (Triple A Memphis' manager) would be candidates for the job.
At third base, Ron Warner (Springfield's manager) is the best and only choice. If Oquendo leaves or is upgraded to manager, Warner will be the next third base coach for the Cardinals.
For my dream team of coaches, I will offer up two. The one I really hope for, the other a more logical and realistic staff.
Manager: Jose Oquendo
Pitching Coach: Mike Matheny
Hitting Coach: Larry Walker
Bench Coach: Joe Petini
First & Third Base Coaches: Willie McGee and Ron Warner
Now, for the realistic staff. This is "realistic" because of Walker's preference to travel rarely because of his children being younger, the same for Matheny. Also taken into the equation is McGee probably not wanting to be a Major League coach.
Manager: Jose Oquendo
Pitching: Rick Peterson or Marty Mason
Hitting: Reggie Sanders* or Jimmy Johnson**
Bench: Joe Petini
First & Third: Derrick May and Ron Warner
The * next to Sanders is there because Sanders could very well take the job. He would be welcomed by the fans, and the players remember him well. He has a great knack for hitting and would represent the second best choice for a hitting coach (Walker would be the best choice).
The ** for Johnson is there as he is the last choice of the four. Mueller probably will not want to jump ship from the Los Angeles Dodgers front office because of his knee issues.
The Cardinals have a very important off-season coming up. Don't think it only consists of player free agents, as their future will not only be based on the player aspect, but the coaching staff changes as well.