As you know by now, the Cardinals had a press conference this afternoon, promoting John Mozeliak to a new role, President of Baseball Operations, and elevating his assistant, Michael Girsch, to the general manager spot. Apparently, all it takes for front office reshuffling is a down year, as Mo took over the job after a sub-.500 2007. With the club still underwater record-wise (and my post on the last few days will be up in a bit), they went back to that well and changed a few titles.
You’d be forgiven if you don’t expect this to really change much, because I don’t expect it really will. You may have noticed that Girsch was in Arizona this week, being the face of the front office as he discussed the demotion of Aledmys Diaz to Memphis in front of the cameras. I thought then that they were probably getting him ready for a promotion, though I didn’t expect it to come this quickly. That said, Mozeliak’s contract was up at the end of next season and the organization has shown with Mike Matheny they aren’t fond of lame ducks in decision positions.
The timing is still a little strange though. Ben Fredrickson (as well as some on Twitter) points out that it’s interesting to see this move less than a month after the press conference where Mozeliak said everyone, including himself, could be held accountable and everyone was on notice. Instead of possibly being shown the door due to this season (which, let’s be fair, was never going to happen), he gets bumped up the organizational chart. More than that, though, why do this just a month before the trading deadline? This could be the most interesting and delicate July in quite some time, so it’s a bit surprising that they’d make this move public right before that happens.
Then again, it seems unlikely that it’ll make much impact in trade negotiations. I expect that Girsch has had a significant hand in any preparations or deliberations and Mozeliak is around to continue to work on any relationships that are necessary to make a deal. I don’t know if Mozeliak will make the final call on anything, but there’s no doubt he’ll have a lot of input on moves and roster machinations.
Obviously, this President/GM role issue isn’t new to baseball. Walt Jocketty did it in Cincinnati, moving up to that position after the 2015 season. We all know that the Cubs have done it with Theo Epstein. The question remains, I think, who holds the power? I tried to find some articles about the Aroldis Chapman or Starlin Castro deals to see who got quoted on them, Epstein or GM Jed Hoyer, but the articles I found didn’t have either. (Unsurprisingly, given Chapman’s history, most of those articles talked to Tom Ricketts, owner of the Cubs.) If you were to poll fairly knowledgable fans, though, would they have named Jocketty or Epstein as the GM of their team, even after they’d been moved up? They still get a lot of press, they still seem to hold the reins. I know that the President role gives those guys, and now Mo, more responsibilities and a bit broader base of powers, but it still feels to the outside eye that deals get done with these guys and not necessarily those that have the letters next to their name.
I don’t think anyone has any doubts about Girsch’s ability to handle the job, though. Everything I’ve heard about the guy is that he’s quite capable and he’s been Mo’s right-hand man for over five years. We know that continuity is a huge thing for the Cardinals and I don’t think this will be any different.
The biggest question I have really is this: does Mo delegate Girsch to Blogger Day or is he still going to come himself?
Congrats to both men and I look forward to seeing what this new era of Cardinal leadership means. Allen and I will talk more about this on Meet Me at Musial tonight, so go subscribe to the show via iTunes, Google Play, or get the Podbean app!