St. Louis Cardinals Jose Oquendo, a former Cardinals 10 of his 12 career seasons in the majors. He came to St. Louis in 1986 and retired as a Cardinals in 1995. An extraordinary "utility" player, per say, in his own right at second base, shortstop and rightfield. However, his true expertise was the infield. Plus, Oquendo could hit from either side of the plate.
He has been with the Cardinals organization in one capacity or another, 1999-2016. Taking a 'sabbatical', so to speak in 2017, and then came back in 2018 as Cardinals third base coach.
After consulting with family, his decision concerning 2019 was to stay close to home. Thus, he now will be working with the minor league players at their Palm Beach facility.
Highly respected by both organization and players, he knows his baseball inside and out. In my opinion, a good deal of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina excellence has come from Oquendo's knowledge and experience throughout his years both as a player and coach.
OQUENDO SEES FIVE CARDINALS WITH GOLD GLOVE POTENTIAL
This morning, a very interesting article by Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post Dispatch. "Oquendo can see five Gold Gloves in Cards' immediate future".
Yes, for those who love a good 'debate of disagreement', let's hear it against Oquendo.
Without question, the top of his list is newly acquired 1B Paul Goldschmidt. A three time Golden Glove award winner already in his previous eight seasons. Oquendo does not see him 'slowing down' to be in contention to secure another in 2019.
Per Oquendo regarding Goldschmidt: “I’ve always said — and I said this to Albert (Pujols) when he moved down to first base — that for infielders to win Gold Gloves, your first baseman has to be a Gold Glove winner.”
He expects to see another Gold Glove performance by Yadier Molina, who holds nine thus far. He adds LF Marcell Ozuna in the mix, a Gold Glover in 2017, as he [Oquendo] foresees a strong season defensively for Ozuna. Now that he has addressed his shoulder issue which should be no 'issue' in the upcoming season. Oquendo expects him to be in the 2019 conversation.
Second baseman Kolten Wong, "who won a Fielding Bible Award last year", he sees Wong as being just as effective - even more so to secure a Golden Glove in 2019. And, I believe along with many Cardinals fans, he was snubbed of the honor in 2018.
The one, which I see as the most debatable by many, Oquendo chooses SS Paul DeJong. What the "debaters" will only remember is DeJong's performance being down in 2018 from the season before. What they choose to forget - DeJong sustained a fractured hand, HBP. Even though medically cleared, full function takes a bit to recover 'fully'. Per Oquendo - "If DeJong keeps going the way he’s going, he also will be a Gold Glove winner."
POSSIBLY A SIXTH?
And, the fantastic defensive play by CF Harrison Bader was not even touched upon. Being sixth in the RoY contenders list in 2018, I don't see Bader's strength, eagle eye on the ball and 'speed of a cheetah' diminishing in 2019. Could he be, also, in contention? I feel, he has all the makings for it to be so.
And, not a Golden Glove contender, but back to his full strength defensively is Matt Carpenter to cover third base. He also dealt with a sore throwing arm last season. He is now throwing with no pain at all.
Instead of, in what concerns many, shot-putting the ball to first base. A "Wing and a Prayer" type of bullet. He is 'throwing' the ball with accuracy. Admittedly, Carpenter knows he is not a 'super arm' in the field.
He does not wear 'rose-colored glasses' regarding his defense, but does hold faith in himself - which very few do. He views his fielding in reality. Per Carpenter: "I’ve never had a ‘plus’ arm, but I had a big-league ‘average’ arm. The last couple of years, I’ve been well below average. But I feel like I’m back to a big-league average arm, which is what you need.”
DEBATE IS ON
As we all know, there are fans that just cannot take some, or all, of this at face value. Save Goldschmidt - I'm pretty quite sure regarding each of the others, some will find fault in Oquendo's views.
What is Oquendo basing his thoughts on? He has been working with most all early arrivals the past two weeks, minimum. He Knows His Baseball and Player Potential ~ Up Close and Personal.
Of course, that is My Opinion. I hold a lot of respect and faith in what Oquendo has to offer. I don't have the advantage of "Up Close and Personal". And who better to rely upon than Jose Oquendo?