Before John Mozeliak prepared to discuss the club’s plans to upgrade its offense, the St. Louis Cardinals’ president of baseball operations announced Tuesday that pitching coach Derek Lilliquist had been relieved of his duties.
Lilliquist, has been with the Cardinals organization since 2002, working his way up from low-A Johnson City. He was appointed by former manager Tony La Russa to the major league staff in 2010 and coached the bullpen through the Cardinals’ World Series championship the following season.
Hired to take over as manager for 2012, manager Mike Matheny brought Lilliquist onto his staff as pitching coach, the position he’s had ever since.
The Cardinals’ pitching staff in 2017 finished sixth in the National League and 10th in all of baseball in team ERA. But Mozeliak said in advance of a season-ended press conference at Busch Stadium Tuesday that the contracts of both Lilliquist and bullpen coach Blaise Ilsley’s contract would be allowed to expire at the end of this year.
The remainder of Matheny’s staff, Mozeliak said, is expected to return for 2018.
Should the team elect to replace Lilliquist from within the organization, an early favorite would be Bryan Eversgerd.
The Carlyle High School graduate helped lead the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds to the Pacific Coast League championship this past season. He also was widely credited for his work with pitchers Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia and others who were promoted from Memphis to help the Cardinals make a late run toward a spot in the playoffs.
After high school and two seasons at Kaskaskia College, Eversgerd, a left-handed pitcher, attended an open tryout for the Cardinals in June of 1989. He earned a free-agent contract, which he was able to parlay into a four-year big league career with St. Louis, the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers.
He pitched in 76 games, including one start, in 1994-95 and 1997-98. He finished 2-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 96 innings, calling it quits in 2000 after two seasons with Class AAA Memphis in the Cardinals’ system. Eversgerd began coaching with the organization almost immediately. The 2017 season was his fifth in Class AAA.
Eversgerd has coached the likes of Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Alex Reyes, Shelby Miller, Tyler Lyons, Sam Tuivailala, Seth Maness and many others.
The Cardinals season, however, ultimately ended in disappointment. The team had 83 wins, slipped to third place in the National League Central, and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.