Key Cubs rival has a manager who is somehow already on the hot seat

After a disastrous 2023 season, there will be little patience for losing in St. Louis this year.

St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies
St. Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Despite a nine-game improvement over the 2022 season, the Chicago Cubs made the move to fire their handpicked manager in David Ross this offseason, replacing him with longtime Brewers skipper Craig Counsell.

Meanwhile, despite finishing with its most losses in a single season since 1990, the rival St. Louis Cardinals opted to retain manager Oliver Marmol, hoping an infusion of veteran arms in the staff will help the team get back on track in 2024. But by all indications, Marmol is on a very short leash and if his club stumbles out of the gate, Jon Mozeliak seems likely to make a change.

As Cubs settle in under new manager Craig Counsell, the Cardinals and Oliver Marmol are hoping for a major turnaround in 2024

In a new poll from The Athletic (subscription required) that surveyed 31 'executives, former executives, coaches and scouts' - Marmol was ranked as having the second-hottest seat in the game, trailing only the Yankees' tandem of Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman, which makes sense given how long it's been since New York won it all (2009).

But no other National League selection ranked higher than Marmol, who is entering his third year at the helm in St. Louis. The Cardinals jumped the starting pitching market early, adding Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, hoping that helps solidify things this year. Longtime Cardinals staple Matt Carpenter returns as a veteran presence in the clubhouse and, of course, the team's corner infield tandem of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado will drive the offense.

If things don't get off to a good start and Marmol is shown the door, one name will quickly rise above all others for a replacement and that's Cardinals legend and likely Hall of Famer Yadier Molina. Obviously, Molina carries a far more impressive resume from his playing days than David Ross did, but the latter provides a cautionary tale when it comes to hiring former fan favorite players in the dugout. It doesn't always deliver the feel-good, storybook ending fans hope for.

Fangraphs has the Cardinals rebounding and winning the NL Central in 2024, albeit with a less-than-impressive 83-79 record. But this team has plenty of question marks (like almost every other team in the division) - and the margin for error is slim for St. Louis and its third-year skipper.