Exit Interview 2017: John Mozeliak

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office–or, in this case, Bill DeWitt’s–for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

General Manager: John Mozeliak

Overview: Mo got bumped up this season, acquiring the new title of President of Baseball Operations while Michael Girsch slid into the GM role.  That happened in June, but so far it is difficult to see that there’s been many differences.  Girsch gets credit for the Marco Gonzales deal as well as the Mike Leake sell off, but neither of those were franchise-altering.  (Or even season-altering, really, though you do wonder sometimes where Leake’s innings for next year are going to come from.)  As the winter has rolled on, Mo still gets plenty of air time and seems to be the guy in command.  Which isn’t surprising, given that Theo Epstein, Brian Sabean, and Billy Beane have all moved up into similar titles but still are the “face of the front office” for their respective clubs.

When you look at what Mo gave Mike Matheny this year, it’s debatable how good of a job he did.  I mean, many of us expected a 85-90 win team out of what they had with a solid chance at a wild card.  Even though they just won 83, they did stay in the wild card race for a while (and even the division–remember they were tied in August with the Cubs).  It was difficult to foresee Seung-hwan Oh‘s struggles or Stephen Piscotty hitting the skids after signing that deal.  (Extending Piscotty this early in his career might be a different issue, one you could legitimately put against Mo’s record.)  There was no activity at the trading deadline even after media interviews indicated there would be, which is either on Mo or on the fact that it takes two to make a deal.  Some would say that’s a symptom of the lack of boldness the club has, that “coming in second” mentality, but it well could be that other teams are starting to ask the moon from the Cards and they didn’t see anything out there worth giving up that much for.

Outlook: The real test of how we view Mozeliak will likely come in the next few weeks.  With the news that the Cardinals are heavily in on Giancarlo Stanton, it feels like anything short of the MVP would be a bit of a letdown.  With all the talk about impact bats, Mozeliak and Girsch must bring in someone to slug for St. Louis, whatever the cost.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be Stanton but it does have to be someone.  If they wind up going to spring training empty-handed, much of the criticism that is already leveled at the front office will feel more deserved.  As I’ve said a number of times in a number of places, the reservoir of goodwill in the fanbase has been depleted.  It’s going to take a big move to add some more to it.

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