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J. Thomas McNamara

 Alex Reyes

He’s the “philosophical differences” John Mozeliak used to justify the firing of Manager Mike Shildt.

With Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas  available, Shildt gave the ball to Reyes and we all know what happened—Reyes gave up a two run walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

Fans, including Kevin Breheny and yours truly, knew Shildt made the wrong decision given Reyes’ recent outings.

Obviously, we don’t know what Mozeliak means by his “philosophical differences,” but it sure makes sense

Here are some names being kicked around to succeed Shildt:

The St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday announced the surprise firing of Shildt on the grounds of a recently emerged “philosophical difference” regarding how the club should approach the 2022 season.

Shildt’s firing comes on the heels of a 92-win season and post season berth berth for the Cardinals.  Across parts of four seasons, the Cardinals finished 252-199 under Shildt. With players, like Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Jack Flaherty, Tyler O’Neill, Yadi Molina and Adam Wainwright in the fold for 2022, expectations for the new manager will be high.

Speaking of which, already team president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has hinted that internal candidates will be considered. Here’s a quick look at some of those possibilities.

1. Oliver Marmol, 35, served last season as the Cardinals’ bench coach under Shildt. He’s a former Cardinals draftee and minor leaguer who also served as a hitting coach in the minors. Marmol also boasts managerial experience at the minor league level, as he guided Johnson City and Palm Beach within the Cardinals’ system. The Athletic’s Katie Woo speculates that Marmol could indeed be a leading candidate.

2. Stubby Clapp, 48, played briefly in the majors with St. Louis, and he’s served as the Cardinals’ first base coach since the start of the 2019 season. Clapp’s extended run of success as manager of Triple-A Memphis makes him a viable candidate to lead a team at the highest level.

3. José Oquendo, 58, spent 10 seasons as a Cardinals player and since then has filled a variety of coaching roles within the organization. Most recently, Oquendo has served as minor league infield coordinator. A part of the organization since 1985, Oquendo would bring experience and strong ties that span decades. The sense that the Cardinals may be inclined to go somewhat “new school” in this hiring may be working against Oquendo.

Others? Here’s a wide-ranging list:

Skip Schumaker, who’s served as the Padres‘ associate manager for the past two seasons, has Cardinal ties and seems to be receiving some early buzz, at least as external candidates go. Matt Holliday likewise has been bandied about in the early going. He’s from a coaching family and has served as a volunteer assistant coach at Oklahoma State under his brother, head coach Josh Holliday. Holliday spent eight seasons with the Cardinals.

Mozeliak  on Thursday said he intends to hire a new manager “over the next month,” so we could get an answer relatively soon.

One week after losing the NL Wild Card Game to the Los  Angeles Dodgers, the Cardinals the have made a managerial change. Shildt is out as the club’s manager, president of baseball operations Mozeliak announced Thursday. Mozeliak cited a “philosophical difference” for the move, and called it strictly a “baseball decision.”

“We decided internally it would be best to separate now,” Mozeliak said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “… We have determined that we have a philosophical difference in the direction of our Major League club. Where we felt the team was going, we were struggling to get on the same page.”

Last week Mozeliak told reporters, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the team considered making changes to the coaching staff during the season, but ultimately stuck with the staff in place. Mozeliak stopped short of saying Shildt and his coaches are safe heading into next year, however.

“In terms of what 2022 looks like it’s a bit premature for me to weigh in,” Mozeliak told Goold last week. “Having said that there is a lot this group should be proud of. They did accomplish a lot.”

Mozeliak  indicated the Cardinals have “some quality internal candidates” for the manager’s position, adding he is “not really prepared” to say whether they will look outside the organization. Cardinals first-base coach Stubby Clapp and minor-league infielder coordinator José Oquendo have been viewed as managers in waiting in recent years.

Shildt, 53, replaced Mike Matheny on an interim basis in Aug. 2018, then was given the job permanently following that season. The Cardinals went 252-199 in parts of four seasons under Shildt, winning the 2019 NL Central title. Shildt was named NL Manager of the Year that season. St. Louis has gone to the postseason each of the last three years.

Mozeliak specifically said Shildt was “dismissed of his duties,” confirming this was a firing. Shildt signed a three-year contract when he was named manager on a permanent basis in November 2019, meaning he still had one more year to manage.

Mozeliak noted that Shildt was heading into the final year of his contract but said that wasn’t the sole reason for parting ways. Shildt had signed a three-year extension after the 2019 season.

“All I can say is where we felt the team was going, we were struggling to get on the same page,” Mozeliak said. “With him having one year remaining on his contract, we could have gone into 2022 having that over him, and we just decided that internally it would be best to separate now and take a fresh look as we head into a new season.”

Mozeliak  declined to discuss possible replacements but said there are plenty of internal candidates. He said the coaches who remain under contract are expected to return next season.

“As I said before, 2021 was a real success and something that, for all of us that were part of the organization, we take tremendous pride in,” Mozeliak said. “Any time you go on a 17-game winning streak and actually create history for your organization, it’s something you take enormous pride in. A lot of times these decisions aren’t based just on the season. More to the point, it’s directionally where we want to go.”

He met with Shildt and the rest of the coaching staff Friday, but the two did not meet again until Mozeliak informed Shildt of his firing.

Asked about the manager’s response, Mozeliak replied, “He was very shocked,” adding, “I’m not going to get into who I spoke with or the details of how I got to this decision.”

Shildt , 53, had guided the Cardinals to the playoffs three times, including in 2021, when they rode their September winning streak to a 90-72 finish. St. Louis lost to the Los Angeles Dodgersin the wild-card game on a walk-off home run.

It is rare for clubs to fire managers the same day as a playoff game; the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants will play the decisive contest in their divisional series late Thursday. But Mozeliak and Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. decided that it was important enough to seek permission from Major League Baseball to make the move immediately.

“I think Mo said it well: This is based on differences between Mo and his group and the manager, and, you know, it didn’t have anything to do with this year,” DeWitt said. “I value continuity, but I value continuity if we’re continuing to head in the right direction. This is a decision that everyone bought into, and that’s kind of how it played out.”

Going 252-199 in three-plus seasons, Shildt led the Cardinals to the National League Central title in 2019, when he was named NL Manager of the Year, but they were swept in the NL Championship Series by the Washington Nationals. His team also lost a wild-card series to the San Diego Padres in 2020.

He became the 50th manager in Cardinals history in July 2018 when he was given the job on an interim basis after Mike Matheny was fired. The club removed the interim tag a month later.

Shildt, who never played in the minors or majors, joined the Cardinals organization in 2004 when Mozeliak hired him as a scout. The North Carolina native spent most of that time managing in the minors and was a member of the team’s major league coaching staff for two seasons before being named manager.

“You know, there’s reasons behind what we do,” Mozeliak said. “What direction we’re trying to go with is something we tend to keep private anyway, but just the overall health of this club — we feel very optimistic as we look at 2022, and we just felt like the leadership downstairs needed to be on the same page.”

That same page was Shildt used Reyes while Mozeliak wanted either Mikolas or Flaherty to relieve in the ninth instead of Reyes and his history

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