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Mozeliak's Live Chat

Posted on October 29, 2008 at 2:32 PM
Filed Under: Baseball | St. Louis Cardinals
He just wrapped it up over at the PD.  Let's go to the highlights:

Wing: Mo -

Any interest in Furcal at SS next season if the Dodgers don't resign him before he hits FA?

Are there any potential trades to look at for an upgrade at SS or 2B? Or, what is your take at ways to upgrade at that position? Should we expect to see a move made there?

John Mozeliak: Without speaking on specific players, I do believe that is one area for improvement. I think when you look at our club one place I felt we could get more offiense was from our middle infield. I do think it is about having the right compliment with offense and defense, but I do think there could be a way to improve.
Folks, let's get this out of the way right off the bat.  If you were expecting detailed discussions about the Cardinals offseason, you have come to the wrong place.  I don't blame Mozeliak for that.  He's got to walk a few fine lines.  He can't tamper, he doesn't want to drive up prices by expressing interest, he can't run down members of his own team and expect to trade them (we saw how well that worked for TLR and Reyes).  So he can't do much besides talk in generalities.

redbirdswin: Mr. Mozeliak,

Thanks for going beyond your GM duties and answering questions from the fans. It is very gracious of you and shows a lot about your character.

On to business - Is Jeremy Affeldt on your radar for a LH bullpen spot? He is durable, puts up solid numbers, and could emergency start ala Brad Thompson if need be. I'm wondering if a multi-year deal for Affeldt could be in the Cards?

John Mozeliak: Clearly we need to improve our bullpen from the left side, and if we can address that in the free agent market that would be great, if not we will consider a trade.
Again, fairly general, but in the first two questions he's pretty much laid out the priorities of the club in the offseason, left-handed relief and middle infield.  Which is not exactly news, but always nice to know that the management is seeing the same things the fans are.

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Ralph: Are you looking to make significant improvements in the roster prior to the Winter meetings, or do you feel it is beneficial to wait until the Winter Meetings to make moves?

John Mozeliak: Good question, I do think there will be reason to be aggressive on the trade market and patient on the free agent market. My thoughts here, people are concerned with the economy and how it will effect the free agent market (time will only tell), but trades will gain steam and we need to be prepared to act if it is in our best interest.
I had submitted a similar question and was very interested in the answer.  I'm not sure that Mozeliak really gives us one here, though if you read "aggressive" in the right way, it sounds like trades could be made before the December winter meetings, but free agent signings may come later.

BG: John, payroll is always a huge topic this time of year and there are different ways payroll gets referred to; opening day, year ending, and total cost with benefits, incentives, bonuses, etc.

Struass mentioned an $111 mil payroll last year(2008). We've seen stories that suggest a $100 mil or so for 2009. Last year Mr. DeWitt said the team could go as high as $110-115 mil for 2008, based on 3.2 mil attendance.

I guess my questions are, is the $111 mil accurate for this year and does that represent all player costs included or just player salaries? Does the $100 mil or so include the total cost or just salaries for this coming year?

And finally, "IF" the $110-115 mil Mr DeWitt spoke of for last year was player salaries only... why would payroll be lowered all the way down to $100 mil for 2009?

Seems in recent years there were reported offers to Burnett and Schmidt that would have taken the team payroll to that $110-115 mil level anyway... why lower it now?

Sure seems that an extra $10 mil or so would make your job a little easier.

John Mozeliak: Your numbers are close, I do not publicly address our payroll however as you stated it is well documented. It is also true that it is accounted for in diffferent ways, I will say that all in for 2009 will be close to '08, but the most important strategy for me will be to allow from some flexability.
I see that he didn't really nail down the numbers or what counts toward payroll, but it seems like there won't be much of a boost over last year's salaries.  Then again, if you can get some young guys like Rasmus (more on him later) in there, that can help the overall numbers as well.

dave cobler: Good afternoon Mr. Mozeliak; Thank you for appearing here in this chat. I commend and admire you for mingling with us fans, especially since we can be pretty hard on you and Mr. DeWitt at times. And thank you for answering some or all of my questions.

Cardinal baseball is my soap opra. I have followed the Cards year round since 1964.

Can you give me a preview of what you want to get done this winter?

Do you think you can get done what you want to get done?

Can you tell us fans the number one position on the field you would like to upgrade and who you are looking at that might best fill that need?

As you know, the Central division is pretty tough. Is it a fair question to ask if the "09" Cardinals will be a contender or just a team that competes because they over achieve?

Thanks again for being here today. It is very much appreciated! And thanks to the PD/JSL!!! for making this happen.

John Mozeliak: Our outline for addressing our off-season will be fliud but I do think when you look back at '08 there are areas that need to be addressed. So starting with LHR's and then we have to factor in the middle infield and the status of Carpenter. When you wtch the post-season and seeing the starters it is a good reminder of how important that is, so we will also take a close look at that market as well.

Your correct the division is strong and will likely get stronger, but I always believe that you need to worry about your own team and not what others are doing. We have a strong core and we can improve.
Carpenter seems to be the key for the whole offseason, which could be a major problem.  Many have stated that it's best to just figure he's not going to be there and that things would be just extra great if he's available.  I'm not sure exactly why they wouldn't take that approach, unless they are more likely to go after a Peavy-type if Carp isn't available (and figure out how to work the payroll) than if he is.

The Pastor: MO,

I love having a GM who will talk with the folks! Good job! we go: At the All-Star break, we were in solid contention. We knew our bullpen was a mess--our greatest weakness as a team. Perhaps, this is a bit simplistic, but it would seem that if we had acquired a strong reliever or two, we could have played in the post-season. Would you concur? If so, why did we not pony up for a deal that would have helped us this season and beyond? I have to admit, I expected something of substance from our front office to give legitimate help--and felt a bit disenfranchised when it didn't happen. Two questions: 1. What is the bottom line for why nothing of significance happened? 2. Will this same type of thing again be the story of this off-season, or can I expect legitimate help in the bullpen before Spring training? By the way, I respect the difficulties of the challenges you face...I just hate to see a good team not make the playoffs when we might have been only 1-2 quality players away.

John Mozeliak: 1. Because the players we focused on were not traded, and I believe it was not because of what we were offering.

2. It is a different time, you can play in two independent markets free agency and I do think we will address our bullpen.

Open commentary: Much has been made on our lack of effort or unwillingness to move prospects. This has little truth but I cannot control what is written or said, this ownership, coaching staff, and front office strive to win and we will continue to make that commitment to our fans. But it is also my obligation not to make a mistake just to appease people who want deal for the stake of saying we did one.
First of all, kudos to The Pastor for disagreeing without really being disagreeable.  As we'll see later, some in Cardinal Nation haven't figure out that basic rule of thumb.  I also like that Mo has really taken on this idea that the Cards didn't make a deal because of money or overvaluing prospects.  I think it's telling that the players that they had targeted weren't traded at all.  It's not that they didn't come up with a competing package and lost out, those teams just wound up keeping their assets.  It does take two to trade.  And I'm glad that Mo listens to the fans, but doesn't take orders from them.

Larry L'Heureux: Will the Cardinals consider bringing Renteria back for 1 or 2 years? I think he would welcome an opportunity to return to the Cards and would be another right hand bat that could be counted on to hit .270 and drive in 70 runs. An offensive upgrade over the 20 RBI Itzuris produced. He should come relatively cheap compared to a Rafael Furcal.

John Mozeliak: Without speaking on specific players, we will look long and hard at the free agent market.
Which doesn't really tell us anything.  If they weren't looking at the FA market, they probably wouldn't be doing their jobs.

Ron Kinder: I am a long time Cardinal fan living in Colorado. I have observed you from afar and I must tell you I am absolutely UNIMPRESSED with anything that you have done. You think we can win with the type of bull pen we had and thanks to Duncan we had decent starting pitching, but you sit on your Butt and don't help them when we had a chance. We need your predessor back who at least had some guile and did something rather than you sitting on your hands saying, "Be Patient". I love the Cardinals and we should not be put in the situation that you have us in. Get off your fat Butt and do something for God's sake. Keeping Chris Duncan in left field is an absolute disaster waiting to happen. Go after the Rockies Left fielder and give up some of the pitchers we have. And whatever you do, build a bull pen!

John Mozeliak: Thank you for your kind words, and you may want to start looking closer than from a far...I'm not fat. But as for your brilliant ideas, I hear you and will consider them even though you show distain for me. Hey nothing personal, best Mo.
Here's where we get into the "irrational fringe of the fanbase" (you'll see that later on).  It's nice to know, though, that Mo has a sense of humor about things and a little bit of sarcasm in him.

Ten Rings: Mr. Mozeliak,

I have a couple of quick hit questions for you:

1) If you were forced to name which of the OF's (Ank, Luddy, Schu) were most marketable, who would you choose?

2) In general, do you have any idea how the trade market sizing up to be across all of MLB? Do you expect to see a lot of trade activity as opposed to high free aqency signings?

Only about 110 days to Spring Training!!!

John Mozeliak: When you look at our OF depth and what we could possibly do in a trade, we have to remain open minded. Trade market vs. free agent market, simply put this is a better year for free agents and our ecomonic world has changed so you may see teams trying to unload large contracts.
Not surprisingly, Mozeliak doesn't tip his hand on the outfielders.  Though I do think you can read into that answer the possibility that Ludwick would be dealt.  The second part is a political non-answer, but it will be interesting to see how many teams try to free up payroll to help deal with economic problems.  (Or how many people take on payroll to try to generate losses to bring down their taxable income in a potentially higher-taxed environment.)

drelboc: Mr. Mozeliak;

Fact or fiction;

Can you give us any scoop on Colby Rasmus? How many dog houses does he really have? If the rumors are a fact, what are his chances of being in the Starting lineup on opening day? POOR, FAIR, GOOD?

Truth or myth;

Is Colby Rasmus a clone of J.D. Drew as far as being a great prospect that is "plagued" with injuries and therefore injury prone?

Thank you!

John Mozeliak: Fact, if he shows up in shape and has a strong spring, then you will watch him wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

Myth: I can only think of one injury in his playing a career.
That, to me, says two things.  One, they are trying to give Colby a little motivation and encouragement and two, they are actively trying to make a spot for him by dealing off an outfielder.  Because if they don't move one, how do you really get to see him in St. Louis?

Ross: Are there any surprise players in the system that might make the big league squad in 2009?

John Mozeliak: Don't rule out Tyler Greene, he is having a strong Arizona Fall League.
Which would be nice, since Greene's a shortstop.  But I don't think he'll be starter material no matter how strong his AFL season is.

Steven M.: You haven't made a gut trade since taking the job of GM, have you ever made a move without the written consent of DeTwitt? Or do you just use one of those magic 8-balls? Anyone can sign their own free-agents, do you plan on actually doing any work this winter that a MLB General Mgr would do? Or, just like at last year's trade deadline, do you plan on lying to the fans and doing nothing?

John Mozeliak: Magic 8-ball, if were that easy.
No credit for Lohse...I see how you play. Just take your ball and go home.
Good for Mozeliak to stand up for himself on the Lohse deal.  He could have easily passed on that as well.  And where is the class and intelligence the Cardinal fanbase is known for?  Sure isn't in this question.

Herrin Redbird: How can you in good conscience tell Cardinals fans you will be looking for "low-hanging fruit" this offseason? Do you not think a fourth-place team with the fan following of the Cardinals deserves better? I'm not saying that a bargain bin player can't be productive every once in a while, but you are conditioning fans to expect that to be the norm. Shame on you for not aspiring to do better!
Herrin, Illinois

John Mozeliak: Sorry Sir, but I was simply saying that I felt there we be areas we can address quickly and then focus on the bigger or more difficult task later. It is a about priorities.

Aspirations have always been high, and I'm well aware of where we finished.
While still on the combative side, there was a legitimate question in there.  Mozeliak's explaination/clarification does make sense, though.  It's not necessarily that we'd be getting low-hanging fruit, it's just that the Cards don't have to necessarily go through hoops to make things better.

Tom: Hi,

Thanks for the chat, and for all of your hard work to put the best team possible on the field. I've been very happy with your decisions.

Joe Strauss recently mentioned in one of his chats in regards to upgrading the middle infield that we should expect a SS or 2B to come via free agency and the other to come via a trade. Was the Chatmeister accurate?


John Mozeliak: Thank you it is nice to read a positive question, but with regard to JSL he is never accurate...only kidding.

As stated earlier there could be many different ways to address this and we will have to let the free agent market open before we have a firm grasp of how we best handle this.
In other words, take Strauss with a grain of salt.  He could be right, he might not be.  Who knows?

Delaine Landrum: Dear Mo,

I've been a Cardinals fan my entire life and I do get tired of all these teams getting the top free agents. While I believe we have the money to spend, I know we won't do it. The needs I see are team speed and a hitter behind Pujols as well as another starting pitcher. I personally am tired of seeing lack of team speed. Do you have any plans of getting us some speed and a hitter behind Pujols?

John Mozeliak: I agree and if there is a way to address this I'm interested. I think it is under valued, but speed can change a game.
Is there any fan base out there that doesn't gripe about money?  You think there may be some deluded Yankees fan out there saying, "Man, we have the money, but I know we won't spend it!"  Personally, I get tired of it.  Ownership is interested in a good team.  It's not interested in wasting its money.  As for speed, that may be another thing that Rasmus brings to the table, especially if they replace '08's only real speed source, Izturis.

Don Ford: Adam Kennedy requested a trade last season. Do you need to move his contract before you can pursue other options at second base?

John Mozeliak: Adam has requested we explore a trade and I will look into it. But at this time it would be difficult, this one may take some time.
No one said it would be easy.  I'm sure Kennedy will be, at best, a throw-in on another deal, if Mo can move him at all.

Andrew: At what level in the system do you anticipate Brett Wallace starting the 2009 season?

John Mozeliak: Wallace will likely start at AA, but we will let spring training happen first
Not a big surprise, especially with the other 3Bs in the system.  I don't think he'll stay at AA all that long, though, if he hits the way he did in his brief time there at the end of the season.

Cardinal70: Do they install the thick skin when you become GM or did you already have it? I'd think it'd be tough to deal with the irrational fringe of the fanbase.

John Mozeliak: Actually I'm very sensative and struggle sleeping because of the media and negative words. Just kidding, I understand the dymanics at play here and I know I will never please everyone. I can appreciate fans passion for wanting to win and I'm driven by those same desires.
I submit three questions and this is the one he takes.

ramses: Mr. Mozeliak,

I understand that it is difficult for you to answer certain questions, but so far your answers on here have been fairly vague. I do not mean that as an attack, but I'd like to know why Cardinal fans should believe we are going to see action this off season. I love the kids and don't want to trade the farm for a short fix, but we've heard the rhetoric for a few years now. We are too close to stand pat - again. Please give us some specific hope.

John Mozeliak: I don't mean to be vague but as we sit here today there are many differents ways to change the face of our club. I don't want to state something today and then change directions in a week. This is a process and even the best laid plans may need to be adjusted.

I agree we are close and I want to see us get to October.
Which makes it seem that the offseason plan isn't written in stone.  I'm guessing it'll depend on who becomes available on the trade market.  I wonder if Mo has any indication some surprising names may be available?

That was the end of the chat, though he did say he hoped to do another before the end of the year.  It's nice to see him interacting, even if the actual information is not all that forthcoming.


2 Comments | Leave a comment


Mo would make a good poker player.

I didn't read into the OF comment that Ludwick would be moved, but it does indicate that everyone's on the table - even Rasmus. It also means that all the written word regarding St Louis not being a player in the Jake Peavy soap opera is probably inaccurate; we're negotiating with the Padres to see if a deal can be done that both teams can live with.

I didn't mean to imply that Ludwick would be moved, just that he was a possibility, not an untouchable.

I think the biggest hangup with Peavy, besides Goold's discussion that the prospects they want aren't what we have, would be the salary at the end of the contract. A lot could be tied up in just a few players.

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