Chris Maloney’s reassignment headlines a flurry of coaching staff changes for the Cardinals.
The struggling St. Louis Cardinals made their biggest in-season coaching shakeup in many years on Friday afternoon, announcing a flurry of changes to Mike Matheny‘s staff. Most notably, third base coach Chris Maloney was reassigned within the organization and will be replaced by Mike Shildt, who began the season as the quality control coach.
Assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller is also taking an indefinite leave of absence and will be replaced by Mark Budaska, who had been the hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis. To round out the staff, longtime minor-league manager and instructor Ron “Pop” Warner will also join the staff as an additional coach.
Shildt should be well-versed in the art of coaching third base, having managed in the Cardinals’ system for the last eight years before joining the big-league staff this season. The third-base coaching position is the manager’s responsibility at the minor-league level, and Shildt presumably felt comfortable enough doing it that he’ll be ready to step into this role without any worries during the middle of the season.
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The 55-year-old Maloney, who spent 18 seasons as a manager in the Cardinals’ minor-league system, had been on Mike Matheny’s staff for the entirety of the manager’s tenure, starting as the first base coach and then taking over at third after José Oquendo retired to have a knee replacement shortly before last season. He’d been responsible for more than a few runners being thrown out at home plate in recent weeks, and his year-plus as the third base coach was marked by poor decisions from the coaching box. Much like former San Francisco Giants third base coach Roberto Kelly, who took over for the beloved Tim Flannery but then was fired after 2016, Maloney was a perfectly capable coach at first base but fell out of favor in a major way after moving to the other side of the diamond.
Budaska, affectionately known as “Buddha” by his players, might be the most intriguing addition to the staff. The 64-year-old former major-leaguer has received praise from players like Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, and Kolten Wong who have gone down to Triple-A in recent years to rediscover their swings, and the hope will be that he’ll now be able to provide that assistance to struggling players at the big-league level. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold wrote in depth about Budaska’s impact on the Cardinals’ hitters back in the spring.
The 48-year-old Warner, who had been working as the Cardinals’ assistant field coordinator and managed in the Cardinals’ system for eight years, will take over the additional coaching role that Shildt held at the beginning of this season. With the departure of Maloney, Warner will provide another experienced manager’s voice along with Shildt.