When Oli Marmol suggested some of his players did not have a winning mindset, he certainly had a few in mind. Marmol never speaks without a plan in place, and while we can argue all day about whether making such comments public is beneficial, he did so with reckless abandon this weekend.
"I want a clubhouse full of guys that has one thing on their minds, and it's not themselves. It's winning a championship. So, you start out by weeding those out," Marmol said.
Evidently, some players in the St. Louis clubhouse don't put the team first. Given past conflicts, we can take some educated guesses as to who he is referring to. As Thomas Gauvain of Redbird Rants wrote on Sunday, the time is now to pull those weeds:
"Speculate who you want, but it is clear that management and the front office are looking ahead to 2024 the moment game 162 of the 2023 season is over. The Cardinals have a lot of work to do and a lot of ground to make up to field a competitive team in 2024, but it seems like the first step is to remove the troublesome players currently in the locker room. Once the "weeds" have been removed, outside players can be brought in to beef up the roster."
I will speculate, in fact, and it all starts with an obvious target.
Cardinals on the chopping block: Tyler O'Neill
Tyler O'Neill and Oli Marmol have a feud dating back to the young outfielder's supposed lack of effort in an early April game. St. Louis had started the season hot, but a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves -- a real contender, I might add -- sent them crashing back down to earth. Marmol blamed O'Neill, in part, because he didn't run hard enough out the gate.
"That's not our style of play as far as the effort, rounding the bag there," Marmol said. "It's unacceptable."
Marmol, rather than speaking with O'Neill privately, took out his frustration with the media. Putting one of your best young players on blast in front of the entire baseball media landscape was a misfire from the fiery manager, and one O'Neill will surely never get over.
"He didn't think I gave the best effort," O'Neill said. "I'm out here every day grinding my ass off, giving it my all and trying to stay on the field for 160 games out here. Like I said, I just got to get a better jump next time and I guess just get around the base a little quicker and be in there in next time."
Marmol doubled down on his comments by refusing to put O'Neill in the starting lineup the next day.