Last year, John Mozeliak was kind enough to take questions from the United Cardinal Bloggers. Apparently, we did a fine job because this year he was willing to do it again. Unsurprisingly, given the fact that he answered everything last year, many more questions came his way this year. (I sent 10, because you know how I get going.) He wasn’t able to answer all of them, due to various issues (likely mainly because he had a few other things to do, like talk to Jason Heyward’s agents or something) but he did take a crack at some of them.
As for my questions, Mo took three of mine and combined one of my other ones (about the Patron Pitcher) with a question of Dan Buffa’s. Below is what the general manager had to say.
C70: How would you grade your trading deadline moves of acquiring Brandon Moss, Jonathan Broxton, and Steve Cishek?
Mo: It’s always tough to be a self-evaluator, but I feel there are two things: one, we wanted to find offense that we would have control over for more than just the two-month rental, and we felt Moss gave us that. Now, clearly from a pure production standpoint, he did not have the year, especially the impact, for the St. Louis Cardinals that he’d hoped, but I do think being almost two years removed from surgery when we see him this spring, he’ll benefit from it. In terms of the bullpen, when you look at our usage on what was happening with Rosie, Siegrist and Maness, we felt like we had to add some arms to make sure that they had reasonable rest, so I think we were able to accomplish that. From a strategic standpoint, I think we met what we were looking to do. How I would grade it overall? I would say probably a B-.
C70: What goes into the decision to retain coaches, such as the hitting or pitching coach? Are there internal benchmarks that they need to attain or is it more intangible than that?
Mo: Well, first off, the manager has a lot of input in our coaching staff. Also, the feedback we get from our players is vitally important. In terms of just pure metrics to determine success or failure, we’re not that rigid. But there are things that we look at and try to improve upon. I feel like our current staff recognizes that and in my mind, have met or exceeded.
C70 (and Buffa): Do you see Tyler Lyons as a significant contributor to the 2016 club? Can you also share your thoughts on Marco Gonzales, Jordan Walden, and Greg Garcia?
Mo: Well I think Tyler Lyons, depending on what we do in the free agent and trade market will either have an opportunity to come in as a starter, or I could certainly see him as a part of our bullpen moving forward. Marco Gonzales will also see similar opportunities – missed a lot of time due to shoulder soreness last year, so our expectation from him is to have a normal offseason but to come prepared and ready to go for really the unknown. Either way, we do have options on him so if necessary he could pitch in Memphis. Jordan Walden clearly did not have a great year from a physical standpoint. He obviously got off to a good start, but I think the key question for him is ‘will he have the strength in his shoulder to come out and be someone we can count on this year.’ There are a lot of question marks going into 2016 with him, but I do know our medical staff and he are working in concert to prepare for next year. I think Greg [Garcia] did a nice job of showing he has value at the Major League level this year; extremely good teammate, hard worker. Any versatility he could create for himself would be of value. Whether that means catching to even taking fly balls in the outfield, but clearly from an infield standpoint he checks a lot of boxes for us.
C70: When did you become aware that Lance Lynn was having elbow problems and, if before the end of the season, what went into waiting on the surgery versus having it at the time? Did you know the full extent of the problem?
Mo: We were first aware of his elbow injury in a game in LA in June. Based on MRIs and how he felt, obviously he went on the DL, but ultimately was still able to pitch. I think it was something that he understood was eventually going to happen but did try to give us the innings and starts we needed. Unfortunately, in this game when you’re a pitcher at the Major League level, or any level, there’s risk and it caught up to him. I think it’s more volume than acute but ultimately he’s going to miss 2016.
My general takeaways, besides a sense of gratitude for Mozeliak taking the time to talk with us:
1) While we’ve kicked this around a lot, it really sounds to me that Mo is planning for Brandon Moss to be part of this 2016 squad. “When we see him in the spring” seems like a telling phrase to use. I’m not at all opposed to bringing Moss back, but I wonder how that is going to be done. Is he going to be paid in line with the $6.5 million that he got this year? What does that mean for Matt Adams? Both are lefty swingers at first base. While Moss can play some outfield, you’d hope that Heyward is back and the outfield is pretty full. Even without Heyward, with Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham on the roster, how often are you going to need Moss to patrol that position? Moss or Adams makes sense to backup the right-handed Piscotty, but not necessarily both of them.
2) While the idea of getting Cishek and Broxton was to ease the load on the main three relievers, I don’t know if it was as successful as Mo was hoping. Maness and Rosenthal had 30% of their appearances after August 1, Siegrist 33%. That means all the workloads were in line with what the usage rate was before the trades were made. Of course, that’s more on the manager and the way he uses the pen than Mozeliak for acquiring those folks. At the time and for the goals, they were reasonable moves.
3) For those of you that want to know where to point the finger regarding the continued employment of John Mabry, now you know. It’s not surprising that Mike Matheny would be in favor of keeping him around, but it sounds like if the players really wanted him gone or didn’t feel like he was effective, that would definitely be a big factor. Being that this is a team that tends to mix the sabermetric with the subjective, the fact that folks like Mabry may be enough to keep him around. As we’ve said before, the credit or blame toward any coaches may be somewhat overblown by any fan base.
4) Tyler Lyons is in the plans. That’s all I needed to know. (That said, I also realize that he could be an attractive trade chip and could be part of that “what we do in the trade market.” But I’ll not think about that right now.)
5) I’m still not sure how much Mo know about Lynn’s injury, but that well may be because, as has come out since I sent the question off to the GM, Lynn was pretty determined to keep pitching with so many other folks out and, as such, probably wasn’t as forthcoming to his manager and the front office as he could have been. I do wonder if they’d have done something different around the trade deadline if they knew (though other folks didn’t) that Lynn was compromised to that extent.
Again, much thanks to Mr. Mozeliak for taking the time to answer our questions!