Joe doesn’t believe in coincidences.
So last year when valuable defensive guru Jose Oquendo had to have knee surgery and begged his way off the parent club’s staff, staying back at his home in Florida, eerily the Cardinals and their defensive fundamentals quickly rusted away.
Let’s see, the team suddenly began playing awful defense and Oquendo just happened to leave the parent club the same time? Very odd.
Then at the start of this season, again, no Oquendo with the St. Louis staff, the Cardinals began the season with terrible fundamentals across the board. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch stated in the spring, the Cardinals played sound ball. It just so happened, Oquendo was there as well.
Once the Cardinals came north, the fundamentals went south.
You don’t have to add two-and-two to come up with four here.
Goold, in a recent chat on his newspaper’s website, shared a story that there was not exactly harmony between Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny and Oquendo.
The story about Oquendo and the early fielding practice has been told in bits and pieces — and some events that didn’t happen on the same day have come together to be repeated as one story. There was an fielding practice Oquendo wanted to have and players went to Matheny, and the practice later was cancelled. Oquendo argued for it to be a regular thing, and it became that after some discussions on how to have it fit. He felt there were fundamentals coming apart, and Matheny stressed that the organization had really put an emphasis on fighting fatigue. This was a subject that had to be sorted out and was litigated later in coverage of spring training, too, as a schedule was hatched to try and do both things — Oquendo’s emphasis on work, early, and repetition, and the Cardinals concern that so much time in the cage, so much times in the field, so much time on a plane, etc. had to be modified to fight fatigue.
Now feel free to interpret this however you wish. Clearly there was something of a philosophical gap between Oquendo and Matheny.
Was there enough for Oquendo to throw in the towel on staying on Matheny’s staff? Not sure.