My UCB Roundtable Discussion – Jocketty’s GM Ranking.

I’ve included links to each bloggers site.


(Sits down, sips his cup of green tea then cracks his knuckles and starts typing.)

Doug V  

Doug at Cards Conclave, Doug at Redbird Rants

Good morning everybody.’It’s my turn today.
This whole discussion was sparked by a link listed below.
Here’s Part One of my question
This link is pretty self explanatory. The Top 25 GM’s In History In it a pair of experts scoured history and determined who they thought were the best GM’s ever.
Well they ranked our previous GM, Walt Jocketty, 15th.
When I think back to the Cardinals World Championship in 2006, I don’t think about Jocketty. I think about Tony La Russa. He was the man in charge. I often got the feeling Jocketty did what Tony told him to do. Jocketty started here in 1995, La Russa came over in 19
Jocketty did acquire some good players, don’t get me wrong. I just felt like it was La Russa who was in charge. Jocketty left at the end of 2007, a few years before La Russa, who stayed on and got his last World Series title as a manager with the 2011 Cardinals, with Mo as the GM.
Jocketty moved on to Cincinnati in 2008, where he inherited a team with some talent that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2000. While he has won a division title with them in 2010 and qualified for the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, he hasn’t led them to a World Series appearance yet.
So, what do you think, does he deserve that ranking?
Part Two:
Do you thing John Mozeliak will work his way onto that list? He seems like he’s here for the duration. He’s already got the 2011 World Series ring on his finger and has led our team to the NLCS four years in a row and two World Series appearances. Plus, he feels like he’s in charge. I don’t get the feeling he’s at Matheny’s beck and call, I feel like the GM is running the team. So, if he stays in charge for a while, do you think Mo makes it onto that list, and if so, where does he end up ranked?
Looking forward to reading  your answers.

Dathan Brooks

Dathan’s Blog

I think he can, particularly if the Cards continue their run of success, and notch another WS on Mo’s watch.  I think there are a few things to consider, though.  First, this isn’t your father’s GM job.  The game has obviously changed a lot, and the GM of today’s teams have a different job entirely than GMs of teams from yesteryear.  The measurement of success, however, is the same, and more difficult to attain.  More divisions, more rounds, wild cards…etc.  you don’t just win the NL East, and go to the NLCS anymore.  Secondly, one must consider the list’s criteria for rankings.  Postseason wins? Farm development? Signability of draft picks?  Doling out albatross contracts (or not)…etc.  Could go a number of ways.  Top 25 all-time, though?  Keep in mind that’s across all of MLB history–no easy list to crack.

Daniel Shoptaw

Daniel’s Blog

Jocketty’s been pretty effective all in all. His deal for Jim Edmonds for a fluke year of Kent Bottenfield (and Adam Kennedy) has to stand as one of his great moves, but he didn’t give up just a ton to get Scott Rolen either and that formed the core of one of the greatest teams in Cardinal history.
I wouldn’t argue much with the ranking, but I don’t think it’s incongruent to say that he might not be the 15th best GM right now.  He probably is, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not as high as he used to be given that, as Dathan has said, the game has changed and the GM job with it.  There’s no way he gets away with that Bottenfield today.  Teams are smarter, they have more information, there are more numbers crunched.  I don’t think that helps Jocketty and the fact that he doesn’t have a notable deal in Cincinnati that’s not a salary dump may prove the point.  I like Jocketty, but I do tend to see him as representing a prior age.
For the second part, John Mozeliak has enough trouble stacking up with Cardinal GM history (Branch Rickey, Bing Devine, Jocketty) to worry about MLB overall.  Mo’s been great and I think he’s reaching that top pantheon of Cardinal GMs (no doubt much better than Dal Maxvill, who was GM while I was growing up) but putting him in an all-time list now is really getting ahead of ourselves.  We saw the Mo mystique crack a little bit last year with the Justin Masterson trade and while he’s still on firm footing, it doesn’t take too many missteps before folks see you in an entirely different light.

Matt Whitener

Matt’s Blog

I believe a general manager’s impact is perhaps the easiest to quantify in sports. With the exceptions of injuries, their work is easy to see in a direct light as they work the market and provide the talent that any manager, good or bad, has at their expense. A good GM can make a given manager look brilliant, just as a bad one can override even the best baseball mind by burdening him with insufficient talent.
Regarding Walt Jocketty, he worked wonders in St. Louis. The state of the Cardinal baseball had varied from average to dismal in the early 1990’s, with the 1993 and ’94 seasons being the the worst consecutive years since 1955-56. Jocketty was aggressive in adding talent to the roster from moment he arrived and did not let up throughout the rest of his tenure.
It is too assumptive of an idea for me to say who played a larger role in the direction of the Cardinals during Jocketty’s time here, simply because I was not in the room, but there was certainly a Lennon/McCartney type of result between Jocketty and LaRussa in putting the best foot forward for rebuilding the organization’s standing within the game over the next decade. It is important to remember: Jocketty pursued and hired LaRussa, not the other way around. Which stands as the most important external addition to the organization since Ozzie Smith.
There have been many GM’s that did not duplicate the success they experienced at their peak in the same role in a different location, but considering exactly what Jocketty did in STL (Luring LaRussa, 7 postseason visits, acquiring Edmonds, gambling and winning on Carpenter, adding Rolen, Renteria, Benes, Stottlemyre, Isringhausen, Edmonds, Eckstein, etc, etc, etc) he certainly crafted a worthy legacy in the history of modern day GM’s in St. Louis.
None of the era that Mozeliak initially inherited is in place without his substantial work ahead of him. In many ways, Mozeliak is to Jocketty what Matheny is to LaRussa, albeit with more time to carve out his own indelible niche within the organization. For Mozeliak at this point, he is deeply entrenched in the entire signature of the organization right now and stands among the handful of the best GM’s in the game today. His all-time signature however will take more time to define. He has been incredibly successful, but the true era of where his impact players and acquisitions will shine is right now. All of Jocketty’s guys have moved on (with the exception of Matheny, although he has changed roles) and now his history will be written by the 2011 Championship that is established, but also how the team cashes in during the Holliday/Molina/Wainwright era, in addition to the Matt Carpenter/Matt Adams/Jon Jay/Michael Wacha’s of the world as well.
The Jason Heyward move and subsequent outcome could surely be a turning point in defining his era to some extents, especially if it leads to breaking through the glass ceiling that is developing over Cardinal seasons.

Dathan Brooks

Can’t help but notice Uncle Walt’s consecutive trips to the WS in ’88, ’89 (Champs), and ’90 have gone largely unmentioned.   That’s no small accomplishment.

Daniel Shoptaw

Wasn’t Sandy Alderson the GM for those?  I know Jocketty played a role in them, but I didn’t think he was the final authority, so to speak.

Dathan Brooks

Dir of MiL Ops & Scouting from ’80 to about ’85, then Dir of Baseball Admin until he left for COL in ’94, to be asst GM.

Daniel Solzman

Daniel’s Blog

He was Director of Baseball Administration for much of his time in OAK.

Daniel Shoptaw

I knew he was out there and part of that run, but again, I was rating Jocketty just on his GM tenures, not his whole baseball resume.  Which perhaps was a limitation of my approach.
That said, if we go that route, Mo gets some ’06 love as well.  I mean, heck, he was in charge of scouting when AP and Molina were picked!

Matt Whitener

If we are factoring in Jocketty’s body of work outside of just the exact outlines of being in the role of General Manager, it indeed does expand the perception of his impact. In turn, it also changes the scope that viewing Mozeliak would take as well, due to the impact he had on revamping the organization’s minor league program and bringing in guys like Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, among other accomplishments while he was the Director of Scouting.
But for the sake of the context of the question, I’ll leave that out. Because at that point it then is arguable that Mozeliak’s overall career is greater than Jocketty’s, due to the fact that his acquired talent played a major part in winning a title that Jocketty lead at the MLB level AND he has subsequently had comparable success as a GM himself, while still reaping the benefits of the system model that he created.

Dan Buffa

Dan’s Baseball Blog

As I sip black coffee on his fine morning, I provide my take on the last two St. Louis Cardinals General Managers.

Walt Jocketty absolutely deserves that Top 25 ranking spot of 15th. He was the one who brought Tony La Russa and the most respected pitching coach in baseball, Dave Duncan, to St. Louis. He was the one that started one of the greatest runs in MLB history that started out in 1996. The Cardinals franchise dominance started with Walt’s work. A GM’s job is to stack the manager’s deck before the cards are dealt. He gives him the tools. I think La Russa and Jocketty worked very well together for a long period of time and I don’t think Walt took orders from Tony. While the scope of TLR’s ego has always been a popular topic to break down, Jocketty had been a GM in baseball before and worked within the game. He wasn’t some wet behind the ears rookie who was mopped by La Russa’s greatness. Walt Jocketty helped rescue baseball when he traded for Mark McGwire. Jocketty made the Edmonds steal trade. He brought in Scott Rolen(the last great long term third baseman) and while Rolen’s disruptive relationship with La Russa probably led to Walt’s departure, Jocketty set the tone for La Russa’s success. A manager’s success isn’t easy to quantify because they are a layer closer to the game and attached to the every day performance but still detached. A GM’s job is easier to evaluate. They put the manager in the best possible position to succeed and Walt set up Tony just fine for many years. What was Cardinals baseball before Walt got here?

John Mozeliak worked under Walt and Tony(supposedly bridging the drama gap as well) so he was definitely baptized by fire with the team. He has handled it well since. Mo worked very well with Tony before the manager retired and hired a guy who worked under him in Matheny who has done very well. A lot of what Walt helped build in St. Louis is still benefiting Mo(Waino and Yadi) but the current GM will find himself ranked among the best someday. He has built up the Cards strong farm system(which wasn’t a huge weapon back in Walt’s days) churning out starters on a yearly basis while Walt was a ninja when it came to the trade deadline. Mo has built something here and while he has pulled the trigger on a few mistakes(Ty Wiggington, Mark Ellis, Khalil Greene), he has doubled his mistakes in great deals. He survived the aftermath of TLR/Pujols and actually came out stronger. While Walt thrived in the long ball era, Mo has adapted to the pitching powered modern times of the game.  While he isn’t there yet, Mo will one day be among the Top 25 in history. I think he will surpass Walt in that ranking one day. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but I would put a strong bet down on Mo’s long term legacy being quite golden.

Mark Tomasik

Mark’s Blog

Walt Jocketty deserves an elite ranking as one of the top general managers all-time. One reason: He made it seem Tony La Russa was in charge. That’s leadership. He knew how to run a business. La Russa didn’t. Jocketty acquired Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, Larry Walker, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, Woody Williams, to name just a few. Wow!

John Mozeliak is a Jocketty protégé. He learned well from his mentor. Yes, he rates in the elite class with Jocketty.


So readers, what do you think? And as always, thanks for reading.

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Last updated: 10/06/2022