The St. Louis Cardinals’ Architects of the Future
By Chris Gigley
As we wait for the first domino to fall in the annual offseason frenzy of trades and free-agent signings, we look at four men not named DeWitt who control the future of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak doesn’t operate in a vacuum. His abilities are directly influenced by other important members of the front office.
This offseason, for instance, Mozeliak is handcuffed by a farm system that lacks a depth of Major League-ready talent. In so many trades these days, that’s what payroll-shedding teams usually want. And, soon, the St. Louis Cardinals will probably be losing at least one moderately tradable asset, 25-year-old infielder Jacob Wilson, in the Rule-5 draft. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo thinks hard-throwing right-hander Luis Perdomo will probably be taken, too.
So that leaves Mozeliak with the dangerous free agency market, where pitfalls are everywhere. First, there’s the constant temptation to give top free agents the long and costly contract demands they always make. Slugging first baseman Chris Davis just hit 40+ homers for the Baltimore Orioles, but he’s already 30 and has an uneven track record and the Cardinals may not need him. Ben Zobrist may be versatile and had a great World Series for the Kansas City Royals, but he’s old. Any money paid to him now will be for his achievements in the past.
Then there are all the free agent pitchers, for whom I have but one name to offer up as a cautionary tale. C.C. Sabathia. By today’s standards, that 8-year, $182 million deal he signed with the New York Yankees back in 2008 was a success. New York got good value out of him for half the contract. For the last three, however, and this, his final year in pinstripes, the left-hander has been an injury-riddled albatross.
David Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto could all have arm problems in the first years of their inevitably giant contracts. Then what? Then they become albatrosses, too. And St. Louis Cardinals fans know too well that here’s simply no way of knowing when or if a pitcher will get hurt.
So it’s not just Mozeliak who drives this franchise. It’s also a handful of guys beneath him. We’ll highlight them here, but it all begins with Mo:
Next: The General Manager