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Jose Oquendo to return to Cardinals coaching staff

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Mike Shildt gets another new position. Willie McGee will also join the staff.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After a 100-win Cardinals season in 2015, the team announced the entire coaching staff would return intact for the 2016 season. Those announced intentions did not actually come to pass as third base coach Jose Oquendo missed the 2016 season due to knee surgery. Oquendo then spent the 2017 season in Jupiter, tutoring young players. After a difficult season in the big leagues with a second straight year of defensive lapses and poor baserunning, Jose Oquendo is returning to the big league Cardinals as third base coach, the Cardinals announced on Twitter.

The Cardinals also announced that Mike Shildt—who began last season as the quality control coach but was moved to third base coach when the team relieved Chris Maloney of his duties—will be moved to bench coach. David Bell was bench coach last season, but he just took a job with the San Francisco Giants, heading up their farm system. Willie McGee is also joining the club in a coaching role.

The Cardinals coaching staff 18 months ago looked like this:

  • Mike Matheny: Manager
  • Chris Maloney: Third Base coach
  • Bill Mueller: First Base coach
  • John Mabry: Hitting Coach
  • Derrick May: Assistant Hitting Coach
  • Derek Lilliquist: Pitching Coach
  • David Bell: Bench Coach
  • Blaise Isley: Bullpen Coach

Mike Matheny is still there. John Mabry is still there. Bill Mueller took a leave of absence during the last season, and he might be back. Everybody else is gone. The Cardinals have chosen stability at the top with manager Mike Matheny, but instability below him.

We know Oquendo’s return will be a welcome one by at least some of the players as Yadier Molina’s instagram post during the season mentioning how much he missed Oquendo was liked by multiple Cardinals. How much of the Cardinals’ struggles on defense and baserunning were tied to Oquendo’s absence is unclear, but he certainly has the respect of the players.

Mike Shildt appeared to be handpicked by John Mozeliak for a job on the coaching staff at the beginning of the 2017 season, and when Chris Maloney was let go, Shildt earned a more prominent position with the staff, coaching third and taking over outfield positioning. He continues to move up the ladder in influence with the Cardinals.

Willie McGee won the MVP award for the Cardinals in 1985 and his 1661 games with the club is 10th all-time. We don’t yet know McGee’s exact role, but he has been serving the Cardinals as special assistant to the general manager for a few years. The Cardinals still have a pitching coach vacancy after Derek Lilliquist was not brought back for next season.