To Oquendo’s credit, the alleged snub to the position did not deter him from returning to the Cardinals as their third base coach. For how long is a completely different question.
The Houston Astros officially announced the dismissal of the team’s president, TAl Smith, and general manager, Ed Wade. What has been left unclear is how the field manager and coach positions will be handled. Many within the organization feel that it may be left up to the new general manager.
Jose Oquendo has often been thought of as the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the past few seasons he has been interviewed for various vacant positions in Major League Baseball. Though it has not been clear as to why, he has not to my knowledge received a second interview for any position. It is thought within the industry that Oquendo was simply preparing himself for the position in St. Louis and, while thankful for the interview, was not interested in pursuing the opportunities further.
Oquendo has served as the manager for the Puerto Rico team in the two installations of the World Baseball Classic. Heralded for his work there with both established veterans and young players, it propelled Oquendo’s name to the top of many managerial lists. His continued work within the country during the major league off season keeps his name being talked about as a coach ready to make the jump.
While there have been some openings in baseball this year, very few line up for a coach like Oquendo the way the Astros’ position, should it become vacant, does. It is a young ball club that will most likely be searching for a manager to grow with them. The payroll and expectations will be kept low for the next few seasons and a manager that can work with the youth of the farm system to help develop them into the future of the franchise will become paramount.
The toughest decision to come for the Astros may be where their future lies. With a pending move to the American League, the manager will need to be very flexible and capable of running a team utilizing National League rules one season and American League rules the following. A young manager, in terms of experience managing, would fit that requirement as well. The drawback for Oquendo in that sense would be his tenure being completely National League based.
Many fans assumed, hoped and dreamed of “The Secret Weapon” managing the St. Louis Cardinals. With the appointment of Mike Matheny, that time may well have passed. I for one believe he deserves a chance in Major League Baseball and Houston may provide the best opportunity of all.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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