Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak Holds First Post Pujols Press Conference
St. Louis Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak’s first press conference since the announcement this morning that Albert Pujols would not be returning to man first base revealed no surprises. In general, he stated the organization made their best play for Pujols and it just wasn’t enough. He feels no regrets about how they handled the negotiations saying the “effort was extraordinary”. He said that the team will regroup and utilize the resources they now have at their disposal and create “flexibility for the organization”.
After watching and listening to Mozeliak speak, it was easy for me to see he was drained and disappointed. When asked when he knew things were not going the Cardinals’ way Mozeliak said he “knew early this morning”. He said he has since spoken with Pujols and the conversation was “pleasant and professional”. He described Pujols as being “very gracious” about his time in St. Louis.
He admitted that the negotiations were “tense, but professional” and was never put into a position where Pujols’ camp was demanding anything. Mozeliak claimed that the last offer made to Pujols weighed performance and his icon image. The organization hoped that the 11 years he spent with the club would continue to grow. It did not happen that way. Mozeliak stated the last offer was “robust” but would not get into details.
Mozeliak said that the money now available has given them great flexibility that they hope to use mostly in the free agent market, but will also explore trades that make sense. He suggested that they must be very competitive because “we are the defending world champions”. However, he made it known there will not be any knee jerk reactions and that there are not many holes to fill.
Mozeliak said that Lance Berkman could be moved to first base, “he’ll do whatever we ask”, but refrained from answering questions about any specific players on the free-agent market. Notably, he had no comment when a reporter asked if the Cardinals would now address first base by contacting Prince Fielder‘s agent, Scott Boras.
Mozeliak was also asked who the new face of the franchise might be. He said that it will be hard to replace Pujols’ iconic image right away, but there is now the opportunity for someone to step up and do so.
Lastly, Mozeliak likened the loss of Pujols to losing starting pitcher Adam Wainwright to injury before the beginning of the 2011 season. He said, “…most people thought we were going to have a down year. We didn’t.” Here’s to hoping the Cardinals have similar results in 2012. The next few weeks leading up to camp in February will be crucial for Mozeliak and the rest of the front office.
The Cardinals have only one free-agent option who can fill the power gap lost by Pujols’ departure and that is Fielder. He is going to command some serious money that Mozeliak may feel is better served by filling multiple holes with better than average options. The Cardinals are actively looking to fill a void at shortstop, may want to upgrade at second base and are expecting to shore up the bullpen.
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