One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol (or, in this case, Bill DeWitt Jr.) and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
POBO: John Mozeliak
Overview: As has become a bit of a trademark for Mozeliak, he had a stronger year making deals than signing players. The winter’s moves of Drew VerHagen, Corey Dickerson, Nick Wittgren, T.J. McFarland, and even Steven Matz were probably more hurtful than helpful to the Cardinals 2022 chances, though Matz was signed for the long-term. However, his mid-season moves for Jose Quintana, Chris Stratton, and Jordan Montgomery were excellent and exactly what the club needed to patch holes in a rotation that was taking on water. Montgomery especially was perhaps the biggest gamble Mo has taken in a while, since it required losing an actual key part (or at least a projected key part) in Harrison Bader.
Captain Kirk once said that “risk is our business.” You can tell Mo wouldn’t make it in Starfleet because he avoids risk at any possibility. Even his recent signature trades for Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt weren’t risky, as the players were established, the cost in talent wasn’t great, and in the case of Arenado the contract was established. (You have to figure Mo also expected greater than even odds to re-signing Goldy when he came over with just one year remaining on his deal.) Accordingly, the club hasn’t been on either last year’s legendary class of free agent shortstops or this year’s excellent crop, content to give the reins to Tommy Edman and improve on the margins. (In fairness, you also don’t know how much of that is coming from Bill DeWitt, who has to pay the bills.)
However, there was one free agent signing that was huge for 2022. Give Mo credit for being open to a reunion with Albert Pujols, a reunion that led to so many great moments for the fanbase. That didn’t have to happen and probably wouldn’t have if they didn’t think he could contribute.
Outlook: Mo stated at the Blogger Day event this year that his transition to President of Baseball Operations hasn’t been as clean of a break from his past job as General Manager as he would have expected and he still has his hand in basically everything. I think it’s possible that in the next 2-3 years we see a little more of Michael Girsch, who signed a multi-year extension after the season, and Mo might start to move into the “big picture” thinking that he thought he was getting into when he got the fancy title. He’s always going to be a public face of the front office and he’ll have his hand in anything major, but at some point we might be able to talk about Girsch and his philosophy and moves rather than just Mo.