For over 30 years, Jose Oquendo has been a part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization in some capacity. His roles have ranged from second baseman, where he set a record in 1990 for the fewest errors by a second baseman (3), outfielder, pitcher, and third base coach, among others.
After he retired as a player in 1995, and following a stint in the minor leagues working within the organization, he became the Cardinals’ third base coach in 1999, and was the most familiar face on the field for St. Louis. Fans from the “Whiteyball” era loved seeing him back, while the new generation of fans could appreciate the history that surrounds Oquendo. Despite all he’s meant to the organization and the city of St. Louis, however, one position has eluded him… manager.
When former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny got the managerial position after Tony LaRussa retired in 2011, many felt that Oquendo got shafted. He already had coached the Puerto Rican National Team in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic tournaments. Matheny had little coaching experience with the Cardinals in any capacity, while Oquendo had 14 years PLUS his 10 seasons as a player with the organization.
If by some chance in the near future Matheny were to get fired, Oquendo would likely once again be on the list of candidates for manager. But what about until then? What about his old coaching position?
General manager John Mozeliak re-assigned third base coach Chris Maloney to a to-be-determined position, and with the leave-of-absence of assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller, the entire coaching staff has been put on notice. Mozeliak has left the door open for Oquendo’s return.
It’s a return the Cardinals need. The baserunning has been atrocious, despite them ranking ninth in stolen bases. Lack of communication seems to be their biggest issue this season, with some of the base running mishaps costing them the game.
In St. Louis, winning is customary. To be in fourth place in the division heading into mid-June is not where anyone imagined they would be. Nor should they be there. Bringing back Oquendo won’t magically change the season. But it’s a start.
Listen to Jeremy Karp's podcast.