Did Jose Oquendo Get Screwed?

jose_oquendo.jpg
You could say Jose got hosed.
The Cardinals have their man -- or, at least, John Mozeliak has his man -- as they named Mike Matheny to the vacant managerial spot yesterday. Matheny has plenty of admirable qualities, to be sure; he's well-respected by the players, has intimate knowledge of the Cardinal organization, and doesn't look too bad in a suit. If you care about that sort of thing. Which I totally don't. 

On the other hand, Mike Matheny possesses exactly zero of another quality usually considered vital to be a successful manager: experience. No managing at any level. No full-time coaching at any level, either. He's hung out at a couple spring trainings and served as a part-time assistant to the GM, with responsibilities that mostly centered around the minor leagues. Not exactly a slam-dunk on the resume, you know? 

There is another candidate, though, who had most or all of the other qualities Matheny has, along with a healthy dose of big-league coaching experience, and that candidate is Jose Oquendo. Long seen as the manager-in-waiting under Tony La Russa, Oquendo was passed over in spite of organizational ties and a ridiculous tenure advantage. So, we must ask the question: Did the Secret Weapon get screwed? 

Jose Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras has been with the Cardinals in a coaching capacity since 1997, when he managed the team's rookie ball affiliate in New Jersey. He joined the major league club in '99, serving as bench coach for one season before moving over to third base, where he has since set a variety of MLB records for being ignored by runners. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the only time anyone has ever actually paid attention to Oquendo's signs was that time he waved a car through a drive-thru window for a commercial.

Still, Oquendo has 14 years in the organization coaching to go along with his playing career, making him as much of a long-term fixture in Cardinal red as pretty much anyone short of Red Schoendist. Mike Matheny wore the Birds on the Bat for five years as a player, has served as special instructor in spring training since 2008 (for approximately two weeks each spring), and did the special assistant thing for just one year. 

Choosing a major league manager isn't like promoting from within at most companies; I fully understand that. You probably shouldn't pick the face of your franchise the same way K-Mart promotes to head cashier. Still, Jose Oquendo has been a part of the current iteration of the Cards' franchise for almost a decade and a half; watching the club hire a guy with about eight weeks of experience coaching practice games to a position that Oquendo applied for has to come as a bit of a slap in the face. 

Matheny spent his career at catcher; Oquendo played every position on the field, including pitcher! That's like nine times the experience. Plus, Oquendo wouldn't even need a pitching coach. He could teach everyone on the roster to sidearm 83 mph fastballs up there and never have to worry about running out of arms. Think about that: a 25 man bullpen. Hell, I'll bet La Russa would come back out of retirement to manage a team like that. 

I won't bother going down the race path; someone will, I'm sure, but it won't be me. You want to hire the nice religious kid from Ohio instead of the Puerto Rican dude? Hey, far be it from me to question your motives. (See what I did there? That's what we in the writing business like to refer to as having your cake and playing the race card too.) Seriously, though, I really don't think race has any place in this discussion, though I still think Oquendo's weak English probably doesn't help him any. 

Oquendo even has past managerial experience, having the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic twice. Managing a professional baseball team is tough, sure, but this guy managed a whole country. Twice. He's like a manger and a two-term president all wrapped into one. 

So did Oquendo get screwed? Well, he's paid his dues for fourteen years and then gets passed over for a guy whose entire coaching career is less than the length of a cell phone contract. You tell me if he should feel a little bitter. 

I will say this one last thing, though, and then let it be: no one has ever campaigned for Mike Matheny to get into the Hall of Fame. Jose Oquendo, however, most definitely has had such a campaign launched on his behalf. And if Oquendo is good enough for the Sklars, then I just can't imagine how the Cardinals could pass him by. 



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11 comments
JustSaying...
JustSaying...

Jose Oquendo did get screwed. PERIOD.  Unfortunately  he has also taken the the high road which in this case needed to be shelved for more of an aggressive and public stance for an organization literally taking him for granted.  I know Cards fans will berate Pujols whenever they get a chance to and you know what, I totally understand that.  However, there is no doubt that the organization's inability to get a deal done prior to last season was an element for his leaving.  He also made it known that Oquendo should be the next manager, which again I understand the place of players, but was a legitimate opinion non-the-less.

I do in a way blame Oquendo himself for taking the high road and not being more vociferous of this blatant lack of organizational support, resume and loyalty.  Wonder why Yadi is a bit upset about the Cards lately?  Hometown discount? Why?  Oh, maybe Yadi's accent gets in the way of his catching.  Yeah, ok...good enough reason to go after Josh Thole of the Mets in a trade!Whether he speaks well enough to speak with press and everyone else, well that's debatable.  The BS notion that you cant speak with an accent has nothing to do with his ability to articulate.  At the end of the day, he manages the team to win.  The press or public are not on the playing field.Racist...I wouldn't go that far, ignorance definitely.  However if Oquendo were a grey haired white man with his credentials, trust me... (you fill in the blanks).  .

Mct4cats
Mct4cats

yes he got screwed, but I've come to expect this from "whitey", the ownership of MLB and the Anheiser-Busch family in particular are not exactly representative of the makeup of a baseball team, but instead a cotton plantation. At least that's this caucasian's opinion.

Ki
Ki

It's not racism pity, it's racism fact! They had a great opportunity to have the first Puerto Rican Baseball manager. Yes he was born in Puetro Rico not Dominica. i think they just went with name recognition than proven skill. Terrible. 

Cards Fan
Cards Fan

Hey Cardinals fans - check out this contest from Louisville Slugger - you can win a commemorative bat just like those that they hid in St. Louie after the Cardinals won the series. They are giving away 20 more.  Check it out at www.facebook.com/louisvilleslu... look for the link on the left to enter the contest.

DaNezDay
DaNezDay

Maybe if baseball wasn't so extensively outsourced it would be more popular as "America's Pastime".

Doug
Doug

Aaron,Stop making Jose Oquendo into your racist victim of the week BS (yes you went there).  I'm pretty sure the Cardinals picked the manager they think would best lead their team, end of story.  Jose has enough integrity and self respect, not to need your racist pitty.  You disrespect a man's character and abilities when you start doing that.  I'm pretty sure Chris Maloney was a similar canidate as Oquendo, and he was overlooked too.  Take a look at the man's character, not his skin color or religous beliefs.  You are a fool. 

GDM
GDM

mike has way more experience than a few weeks Aaron

oh,,,, i see what you did there

Fred L
Fred L

Okay, I'll take a shot at the "weak English" part of the story...If Jose spoke better English he would be the manager of the Cardinals. He has all the other qualities the team was looking for, just as much as Metheny. Speaking Spanish is actually a useful skill for a manager because there are so many Hispanic players in the league, but a problem arises when you consider how much the job involves interacting with the press and the public. I know Jose can make himself understood to the players, and his English is far better than my Spanish, but it's just not good enough for this job.I hope Jose stays as third base coach and I hope he applies himself to learning to speak his second language more clearly. If he does, he has a great chance of managing in the majors some day.  

DiversitySucks
DiversitySucks

Sorry Charlie - verdict is in - multiculturalism and diversity are MASSIVE failures. Crawl back in to the liberal sewer that you came from. Dominican's are free to be Dominicans in Dominca.

dukecity
dukecity

Dominicans don't come from a place called Dominica. It's obvious why your post is so intelligent.

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