It remains to be seen if the St. Louis Cardinals’ decision to bring Jose Oquendo and Willie McGee back into the dugout will help improve the team’s play in 2018.
But if fan reaction to the news is any indication, the move have been, at the very least, a stroke of public relations genius.
Not a single one of the more than 36,000 readers who saw the announcement or dropped a like, comment or emoji on the BND Facebook page had anything negative to say about the coaching staff moves.
They look downright giddy, in fact.
“No, I don’t like the decision. I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!” commented Chris Hottensen. “So glad we have finally hired a baserunning coach and we needed Oquendo badly. Great moves. Now get the pitching coach right and bring on 2018.”
Oquendo was a fan favorite in St. Louis during his playing days, then coached for 16 seasons before taking the last two years off to nurse chronic knee problems. He is widely viewed as a fundamentals guru, the keeper of the so-called “Cardinal Way” since the passing of long-time minor league instructor George Kissell.
It’s been his absence from that team that has taken much of the blame for a downward turn in the Cardinals’ defense, which has ranked no better than seventh in the National League in errors committed each of the last two seasons.
His return, some fans believe, will be “the secret weapon” in restoring the Redbirds’ leather.
“Hopefully shore up that poor defense,” Larry Titchenal said on the BND Facebook page.
Some readers think Oquendo’s return portends something much deeper like, perhaps, a changing at the dugout’s top step.
Is Oquendo now in line to replace current manager Mike Matheny?
“This sounds very much like a message is being sent. The presence of Oquendo, amongst the many other benefits it gives us, is an insurance plan,” commented Danyel Niederkorn Bagby.
Ron Meier thinks so, too, but is far more blunt in his analysis: “And sets Oquendo up to become the next manager when they dump Matheny.”
McGee’s presense also represents a return to the Cardinals’ glory years to fans.
The NL MVP during the Cardinals’ 1985 pennant run, McGee also was a two-time batting champion and four time all-star. He was the first player inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame when voting was opened up to the St. Louis fans.
Their adoration remains evident in social media.
Donna Ritson: “I love willie mcgee”
Vivien Grgurich: “My all time favorite player!”
McGee has worked in recent seasons as a roving instructor through the organization’s farm system. Base running — another team weakness —was one of McGee’s specialties.
Others would like see still more of the Cardinals past reflected in the Redbirds present.
William Baumhardt nominates 80s slugger Jack Clark as batting coach. Demario Thomas thinks Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith is just the guy to help shore up the defense.
And former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Chris Carpenter continues to be a fan favorite to fill the Cardinals’ vacant pitching coach position.
Sharon Decker: “Sounds great! I know the perfect pitching coach too!! Come on Carp!!”
Demario Thomas again: “Carp would be perfect he was very instrumental in Wainwrights early days.”