Assessing John Mozeliak


On my last two posts, a commenter has been critical of St Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. Obviously this commenter has the right to his opinions, but it made me think: how has Johnny Mo done so far? The easy answer is that the Cardinals won a World Series so obviously he’s done a good job, but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting post so let’s dig a little deeper.

Prior to being named General Manager, John Mozeliak was the team’s Assistant Scouting Director for the 1997-1998 season and took over as Director of Scouting for the 99-2000 season. He then served as Director of Baseball Operations for two years, Assistant General Manager for three, and has been the team’s General Manager since 2008. During his time working in the scouting department, Mozeliak showed he has an eye for talent. As the scouting director, it was he who made the 13th round pick of Albert Pujols in 1999 and fourth round pick of Yadier Molina in 2000. Without these two picks, the Cardinals of the last decade probably don’t see near the amount of success that they did. John’s time under Walt Jocketty’s wing shows, as his style looks very similar to his predecessor’s. Walt made a lot of high profile trades to strengthen the team, such as his trades for Mark McGwire, Edger Renteria, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds, and tended to shy away from large deals for free agents outside of the Cardinals organization. This has developed into the Cardinals way for the most part.

In order to assess John Mozeliak, we have to look at the signings and trades he has made in his time as General Manager. I will do this today by looking at the WAR produced by signed or extended players, and the resulting WAR from players traded for.

We will start with free agent signings. For the 2008 season, Mo signed Cesar Izturis, Jason LaRue, Matt Clement, Aaron Miles, and Kyle Lohse to one year deals. Clement was the only player to not put up positive WAR value because he never made the team. The total salary given out was $10,850,000, but with a total WAR production of seven wins, the value of those contracts was $29,700,000 using the conversion of $4,500,000 per win. This equates to a good first year for Mo. In 2009, he issued a one year deal to Jason LaRue, two year deals to Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes, and picked John Smoltz up off waivers mid-season. The total expenditure was $3,350,000 with a value of $9,000,000. In 2010, we started to see the limits being taken off, as the Cardinals gave out $27,800,000 in contracts to Brad Penny, Matt Holliday, Felipe Lopez, Randy Winn, and Jeff Suppan. The most profitable player was Holliday, whose widely panned $17,000,000 annual deal turned out to be a bargain in the first season. This past season, Mozeliak signed Jake Westbrook, Brian Tallet, Lance Berkman, Gerald Laird, and Nick Punto. Including the second year of Holliday’s deal, total cost came to $35,550,000, but with total WAR production of 13 wins, the Cardinals got a value of $56,250,000 for their investment. In total, John Mozeliak has earned the Cardinals $53,400,000 in profit value from the contracts he has issued.

Extensions have mostly hurt Mozeliak, though. The Cardinals saw a lot of positive value on Adam Wainwright‘s extension, but Kyle Lohse, Ryan Franklin, Trever Miller, Jason LaRue, and Skip Schumaker have all been signed to bad extensions. Total, the Cardinals have spent $101,475,000 on contract extensions and seen a $23,175,000 loss of value.

The last area to assess our GM is the trade market. Under the Mozeliak regime, we have seen a handful of noteworthy trades. I will assess based on the total WAR gained and lost. A player’s WAR for seasons after the trade will only be factored in if he would have been under contract to the Cardinals. For starters, the first trade Mozeliak made was sending Jim Edmonds to the Padres for David Freese. Obviously this trade netted a lot of value for this past postseason, but it has actually been a success overall as Edmonds left the game soon after and Freese has netted 4.4 WAR since the trade. The most successful trade Mozeliak has made was landing a total of 14.3 wins out of Matt Holliday at the cost of -0.2 wins out of Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Petersen. The buggest loser was landing Troy Glaus for Scott Rolen. If we had hung on to rolen instead of trading fr Glaus, we would have netted an additional seven wins. however, this would have affected Freese’e playing time. Total, mozeliak has traded away players who have amassed 18.9 wins above replacement value since being traded, but has brought in players who have netted 27.9 wins. These numbers can still be swayed by last season’s Colby Rasmus trade, but it appears that the trade market is a solid area for the GM, but one that could use some fine-tuning.

These numbers are subjective, of course. Another area the GM is judged is fan satisfaction. How satisfied are you with John Mozeliak’s performance?

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