The Miami Marlins were eliminated from the National League Wild Card Series on Wednesday night thanks to a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2. However, the Marlins may not have been in the mix if not for a savvy hire during the offseason.
After a difficult 2022 season, the Marlins hired Skip Schumaker to be their new manager after he spent the year as the bench coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals did not reach the postseason this year. But this can all be traced back to the 2021-22 offseason.
After the 2021 season, the Cardinals fired then-manager Mike Shildt due to a "philosophical difference" despite the team winning 17 games in a row to end the season. Schumaker was available and was even in the mix to become Shildt's replacement.
However, the Cardinals decided to promote from within and handed the reins over to Oli Marmol. Schumaker was hired as the bench coach.
Hiring Oli Marmol instead of Skip Schumaker looks like a mistake by the Cardinals
Marmol led the Cardinals to a 93-win season and helped them capture the NL Central title in 2022. After their Wild Card Series loss to the Phillies, Schumaker departed for Miami.
Schumaker had long been praised for his ability to blend analytics into the game and have a mix between two schools of thought. This is what drew the Cardinals to hire him as the bench coach.
However, without Schumaker by his side, Marmol struggled in 2023. Marmol consistently made questionable decisions, including a moment on April 9 when he chose to pinch-hit Taylor Motter for Brendan Donovan with the bases loaded. Each time, the decisions backfired.
While Marmol's poor decision-making isn't the only thing that led to such a disastrous season for the Cardinals in 2023, it certainly didn't help. The Cardinals finished the season in last place in the NL Central with a record of 71-91.
Meanwhile, Schumaker led the Marlins to an 84-win season, which was enough to earn them the second Wild Card in the National League. The Marlins youth helped them overcome obstacles and reach the postseason. Players such as Jazz Chisholm Jr, Luis Arraez, Jake Burger, Bryan De La Cruz, and Jesus Sanchez helped guide them to their first winning season since 2020.
They also had the right mix of veterans which included players such as Jacob Stallings, Yuli Gurriel, and Josh Bell. Their pitching staff was full of young stars such as Sandy Alcantara, Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Edward Cabrera, and Eury Perez.
Schumaker certainly had a tall task, but he passed each test with flying colors. He helped transform the Marlins after a difficult 2022 season, while Marmol and the Cardinals floundered.
Hiring Schumaker to replace Shildt might have been the better course of action for St. Louis. While Marmol has the respect of the clubhouse, his decisions this year were certainly baffling, and the Cardinals suffered the consequences.
Schumaker also played the vast majority of his Major League career with the Cardinals, so he was already familiar with the organization and had built a solid reputation for himself. Marmol had only briefly been the bench coach under Mike Shildt, yet the Cardinals chose to promote him from within instead of making Schumaker the team's manager.