Exit Interview: John Mozeliak

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s–well, in this case, Bill DeWitt’s–office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  

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General Manager: John Mozeliak

Season record: 90-72

Postseason record: 4-5

Overall grade: B+

Positives: Was able to flip Allen Craig at his low point and get something valuable back in return….smartly targeted John Lackey not only because of his experience, but because of his $500K 2015 price tag….picked up Pat Neshek on a minor-league contract before the season began.

Negatives: Had his first major misstep as a general manager, trading solid prospect James Ramsey for Justin Masterson, who completely flamed out while a Cardinal….surprisingly anointed Jon Jay as the starting centerfielder for next season at a post-season press conference….his signing of Mark Ellis was a bust on the order of Ty Wigginton (but not QUITE that bad).

Overview: In Mo We Trust.  That’s the mantra, that’s what we say every time Mozeliak does something we aren’t quite sure about or don’t necessarily see the reasons behind.  That trust was shaken with the Masterson deal.  Whatever improvements or modifications Mo believed the club could make to the Cleveland pitcher obviously weren’t terribly effective.  And while James Ramsey was definitely blocked in St. Louis, it’s still tough to give away what could be a valuable asset for something that gave the club next-to-nothing.

We don’t know how things are between Mo and Mike Matheny right now.  They seem to be on the same page–witness the talk about Jay–but it did seem at times Mo made moves to force Matheny’s hand during the season, whether it was trading Craig to keep him out of the Cardinal lineup or demoting Kolten Wong so he’d actually play instead of sitting on the bench watching Ellis flail away.  I think most fans would like to see Mo be a little more adversarial toward the manager, given where Matheny stands in the opinion of many in Cardinal Nation.

That said, Mo is still one of the top GMs in the league and the Cardinals are lucky to have him.  He’s been fairly disciplined with how he approaches the free agent market (though the praise directed to him for not signing Albert Pujols is a little overblown, given the lucrative contract they did offer him) and he’s been very willing to promote from the minors to make sure the club has what it needs.  There aren’t many you’d swap Mozeliak for in the game, which is a nice thing to say.

Outlook: It would seem that Mo would need to do something about the lack of power this offseason, perhaps clear up a little of the pitching glut, and figure out what to do in the outfield.  It’s a delicate piece of work, given the fact that the Cards are currently almost set at every position, but if anyone can do it, Mozeliak can.  After all, in Mo we trust.

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