St. Louis Cardinals: New Quality Control Coach

The St. Louis Cardinals have extended their manager but simultaneously have created a new coaching position– that of Quality Control.

The St. Louis Cardinals decided this past week to extend manager Mike Matheny for three more years.  This prevents Matheny from entering the 2017 season as a lame duck in his last year on a contract.  I wasn’t thrilled with the news but am thrilled with the decision to promote Mike Shildt into a new position of Quality Control Coach.

Hold the press!  What is a Quality Control Coach?  This isn’t a position that exists on other teams.  The St. Louis Cardinals, then, in this regard are setting a new standard in baseball but this is certainly something that is created based on need.  The 2016 Cardinals lacked quality and control in many facets and Shildt is promoted to correct these needs.

2016 had the St. Louis Cardinals ranked sixth overall in team errors at 106 (the Brewers topped the chart at 136).  UZR, or Ultimate Zone Rating, is the statistical value of defense which puts a value to quantify how many runs a team saved or gave up through defense.  In this statistic, the 2016 Cardinals ranked seventh from last with a UZR rating of -26.8.  Yikes, right?

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Moreover, Fangraphs uses a statistic known as “DEF” to evaluate the value of a put-out based on positional adjustment of the saved run.  A high score in this stat would indicate a strong defensive team.

The World Series Champions- the 2016 Chicago Cubs (anyone else vomit in their mouth at that mention too?)- scored a 69.0 DEF at the top of the list.  The 2016 St. Louis Cardinals scored seventh from last at -32.8.

See the lack of quality?  How about offense?  The 2016 Red Sox led the pack in batting average at .282 while the Cardinals ranked thirteenth from last at .255.  The 2016 Cubs led the pack in wins above replacement at 38.7 while the St. Louis Cardinals landed eighth overall at 21.7.

OBP is a decent stat to examine if looking for quality of a team.  The World Series Champs took the second spot overall at .343 OBP as a team while the Cardinals landed at eleventh overall with a team OBP of .325.  So the offensive looks decent enough, right?

Fangraphs, like DEF above, has a statistic known as “OFF” which is used to evaluate the offensive value that combines a position player’s total context-neutral value at the plate and on the bases while factoring in the park adjusted average and base running statistics.  The leading team in 2016 in OFF was the Red Sox (the Cubs were second at 61.6) with a score of 105.8 while the Cardinals ranked sixth overall at 11.9.

Offense seems to hold quality where the defense lacked it.  We all know that the 2016 Cardinals lacked their secret weapon- Jose Oquendo– and we must all now admit that this affected things dramatically. If we rewind to 2015 when Oquendo was with the team, the DEF statistic for that season ranked at eleventh overall at 13.7 or 51.9 points higher than 2016.

The DEF increase is also noted as higher in 2014 wherein the Cardinals ranked fifth overall at 29.4.  So, why attribute this to Oquendo?  We all know that the Secret Weapon was responsible for field placement and worked exclusively with the infield defenders.  His absence is surely noted.

How about error-wise?  The 2015 St. Louis Cardinals (with Oquendo) ranked ninth from last in errors committed at 96 or ten fewer than 2016.  In 2014, the Cardinals committed eighty-eight errors which put them at twenty-third from last that season.  Oquendo again?

Fast-forward then to this offseason when the organization must come to terms with the fact that Oquendo is not rejoining the major league coaching squad.  While Cardinals Nation has not officially learned the “real” reason Oquendo will remain in Florida, we now have a little ray of hope in the new Quality Control Coach.

I love it.  As I have said a few times this season, I believe that the coaching staff in Memphis eclipses the staff in St. Louis in abilities with the players.  Jump over to my post from this season to read more about this.  Having said that, I am both thrilled for Shildt and his promotion and sad for the Memphis Redbirds as they must now replace the wonderful Shildt.

I have had the luck of interviewing Shildt in his office and watching him work with the staff in Memphis.  His promotion probably means more to the future of the St. Louis Cardinals than just the 2017 season and quality control.  Shildt’s promotion probably spells the fact that Oquendo is not the future manager of the Cardinals and that Shildt could well be the manager-in-waiting.

Time will tell but at least the organization is recognizing the brilliance that is Shildt and the need that exists for a guy like Shildt in the dugout.  Derrick Goold recognized that Matheny likes “yes men” on his staff and noted that it will be interesting to see how Shildt navigates these waters to add quality while pushing back on Matheny.

My input: Shildt, in my time speaking with him, is wise and should have no problem navigating how to wisely say yes while adding quality through control.  Sometimes this may come from saying no and I believe Shildt is the right man for the job.  I cannot wait to see Shildty wearing the Cardinal uniform.

Now, Memphis, hurry and find a great replacement for Shildt so that my local Redbirds can bring home a PCL Championship once more!  Follow me on Twitter for more updates on this new position and Memphis’ search for their next Manager.

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