As most everyone who would care knows by now, the St. Louis Cardinals named former catcher Mike Matheny as their new manager, replacing the retired Tony La Russa. It was considered a calculated risk, given Matheny’s lack of professional coaching or managerial experience.
With that word having been released on Sunday, much of the suspense since then was focused on La Russa’s incumbent coaches and Matheny’s new staff. Would GM John Mozeliak and Matheny maintain the status quo or continue to be aggressive in making changes from the La Russa administration?
The answers were disclosed on Wednesday by the club.
The 2011 group included one man already under contract for 2012, pitching coach Dave Duncan. The remainder of last season’s staff appeared to be in short-term limbo. The most notable case was third-base coach Jose Oquendo, one of six finalists for the job which Matheny won.
Mozeliak said on Monday that he expected a “small bit of churn” among the coaches but that the changes would mostly be internal in nature. As it turned out, two incumbents have reassigned to non-specific organizational roles - bench coach Joe Pettini and first base coach Dave McKay.
2011 assistant hitting coach Mike Aldrete is the big winner, moving to the bench coach job alongside Matheny. Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney will be in the first base coaching box in 2012.
Incumbent hitting coach Mark McGwire, bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist, Oquendo and Duncan return in their prior roles.
Aldrete, 50, is a former first base coach with Seattle and hitting coach for Arizona. He joined the Cardinals in 2008. The ex-first baseman-outfielder played in the majors for 11 years, including three under La Russa in Oakland.
Maloney, 50, spent five seasons at the Redbirds’ helm and has managed 15 years in the Cardinals organization. He compiled a 1268-1188 (.516) record in 18 seasons as a manager, including the 2009 Pacific Coast League championship. Maloney has received Manager of the Year honors three times in his career (1992, 1993, 1998) and is a two-time recipient of the George Kissell Award for player development excellence (2006, 2009).
Duncan, 66, will be entering his 17th season as the Cardinals pitching coach in 2012 and his 33rd overall – the most all-time among MLB pitching coaches.
Oquendo, 48, will be entering his 13th season as the team’s third base coach and his 14th season as a member of the Cardinals major league coaching staff.
McGwire, 48, has been the Cardinals hitting coach each of the past two seasons, this year overseeing the National League’s top hitting (.273) and run-scoring (762) offense.
Lilliquist, 45, joined the Cardinals major league coaching staff last season and has been part of the organization since 2002.
McKay, 61, was the first base coach for 16 seasons after coaching for a decade under Tony La Russa in Oakland. Pettini, 56, spent ten seasons as La Russa’s bench coach after 13 years as a manager and coordinator in the minor league system. Both will remain with the organization and assist in the Baseball Operations department, the club announced.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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