As the season was winding down, I reached out to one of the folks in the Cardinal organization that’s always been so great to us bloggers (sorry, I know, that doesn’t narrow it down–they’ve ALL been awesome) and asked if I might have an email Q&A with General Manager John Mozeliak. Not only was Mo up for that, but the Cards wanted to expand it to all the bloggers.
You’ll find other questions and answers around the blogosphere and next week we’ll put a full transcript up over at the official site. Not knowing how many questions the GM would answer, I tossed quite a few of him, and it speaks highly of him that not only did he answer all of mine, but every question the bloggers threw at him got an answer and usually more than a “no comment”.
Below are my questions and his answers. I’ll have a few more thoughts at the end.
C70: You’ve been the general manager of the Cardinals for seven years now. Where do you think you’ve improved the most over that time and where do you still feel you would like to improve?
Mo: In any career you always have opportunity to improve. When I think back over the last seven years, one thing I understand better today is there is always opportunity to improve your team. You don’t have to have your club set by the winter meetings, or by Opening Day. Being patient and opportunistic can be a very valuable asset.
C70: How has your relationship with Mike Matheny changed from when he was an assistant to the GM to now, three years into his managerial career?
Mo: My relationship with Mike Matheny has only gotten stronger over time. As anyone would imagine, your relationship working on a day-to-day basis between a GM and manager is constant and time consuming, but it also allows you to get to know the person not only in the work environment but also on a personal level.
C70: Are there moves that you regret making over the past seven years?
Mo: Yes. Not going into details on those as I’m guessing most people that follow the Cards could guess what those would be. But in fairness, our decisions are based on our process that we go through in evaluating talent and we have a lot of confidence in that process. When we go out and get a player it’s not for a lack of effort.
C70: Are there times during games where you second-guess the manager just like the fans do? Do you talk with Matheny after games about those times, if so?
Mo: I never second guess decisions that are made on the field or in-game. I may, after a game, ask questions on something because I’m curious to understand how people think. But Mike is our manager and it’s his job to run the team. I am happy to ask questions, though, for his benefit and growth.
C70: You said recently that you believe Matheny has improved as a strategist since he took over the club. Could you point to examples that lead you to that opinion?
Mo: Well, I feel when he first stepped into this role he recognized the game was going to be fast. He didn’t have managerial experience and that learning curve was only going to come with time. When you look at where he is today, after three years, he is much more comfortable in this role.
C70: What did you expect to see in Justin Masterson that didn’t pan out once you acquired him?
Mo: I think the untold story of Justin Masterson was that he wasn’t 100% when we got him. Unfortunately it affected how he pitched and had a direct correlation to his performance. I will say in his defense, he gave us one huge game in Miami when things weren’t going well for our club. But in the end, I can see why people do not look at this as a positive deal.
C70: Can you give us a sense of what general manager meetings, like the one you recently attended, are like? Are there presentations and such or is it more just a place to gather together to talk and lay groundwork?
Mo: A typical GM Meetings look like: 8:30-12:30 each day MLB would put on presentations that could be about rule discussions or rule changes and general topics that are being discussed throughout baseball. Afternoons and evenings are typically spent meeting with other clubs or agents, setting up groundwork for the offseason.
C70: What would you say would be the expected role of Tyler Lyons in 2015?
Mo: Tyler gives us protection in the rotation as well as bullpen.
First off, I can’t express enough gratitude to Mo for taking the time to answer the questions and to do it in such a through manner. There’s a reason the Cardinals are considered one of the classiest organizations in baseball and it’s all about the tone at the top. Mo’s been great at every UCB Weekend and he continues to be so here.
I was most interested to hear about his relationship with Matheny. While you might not expect him to come out and say they weren’t that close, there are ways to say that the relationship is not what it used to be. “Things are different in our different roles” or something like that. Instead, he says that they are closer than ever, putting to rest those thoughts (and, I’ll admit, I was on that page) that there might be a rift between the two men.
I also am not sure if I’d heard that Masterson was hurt when he came to St. Louis, though that was definitely bandied about as a reason for some of his problems. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets better and turns in a good performance for whomever his next team is.
There’s no doubt we’ve seen Mo be opportunistic, most recently with the trade of Jason Heyward (note, all of these questions were submitted before the trade was announced). The early moves of the last two seasons, getting so much done before Thanksgiving, seems to underline what he was talking about.
Finally, you didn’t expect me to not ask about the Patron Pitcher of the Blog, did you? Looks like we’ll be seeing #70 again next year, in one way or another.
Again, thanks much to John Mozeliak for his time and hopefully we’ll do it again sometime!