This has been a frustrating offseason for St. Louis Cardinals fans, but perhaps it isn’t all bad
Before I dive into the purpose of this post, I have to vent a little bit. This St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason has been terrible by nearly any standard.
So far, the Cardinals have added a league average pitcher, a busted 2nd base prospect, a mediocre backup catcher, and an underwhelming reliever.
That’s pretty pathetic, especially for a team with a suspect offense that lost one of it’s best and most consistent offensive players in Jason Heyward. If Jennifer Langosch is to be believed (and she usually is), that’s not likely to change:
"“Mozeliak has cautioned that the organization will likely shy away from adding an impact bat, but he is also ready to act should asking prices drop or a new opportunity present itself.”"
To say I’m underwhelmed would be a horrible understatement. For a while, I was angry. Now I’ve simmered into incredibly disappointed. General Manager John Mozeliak failed to do what he needed to in order to keep the team trending in a positive direction, and this offseason has really exposed a lot of holes in his game — particularly the inability to spend big on free agents when it’s needed.
For years I’ve trusted Mo’s knowledge and intuition blindly, believing that he knew better, but this offseason has been botched. All of that aside, let’s talk about why John Mozeliak is a good GM, even if he can’t land a major free agent when the team needs one.
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In 2007, Mo became the GM of the St. Louis Cardinals. Since that time, the Cardinals have had eight winning seasons and one losing one (2007, his first season in the GM role), posting a combined record of 806-652 (.553).
That’s really good, and to cap it all off, the St. Louis Cardinals have won the division for three straight years and gone to an unprecedented five consecutive postseasons, including two trips to the World Series and one ring to show for it.
I agree, it would be great to have two or three rings in that time period, but given the volatile nature of the playoffs, I’m pretty happy with that run of success. It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals haven’t had the benefit of a terribly weak division — the Cubs, Pirates, Reds, and Brewers have all had a modicum of success over the past few years.
So how is it that a GM who clearly struggles in the free agent market manages to consistently build such a successful team? The answer is pretty simple: prospects. Not big name prospects necessarily, but prospects none the less. Here’s a short list of some of the players Mo is responsible for and the value they’ve provided the Cardinals:
That’s a ton of value that didn’t cost the Cardinals much money at all, and most of it has come in the past few years. It might seem unreasonable to expect success of that sort to continue, but there’s still a lot to be excited about in the minors, from Alex Reyes and Magneuris Sierra to Luke Weaver and Nick Plummer.
With three early draft picks to work with in 2016, there’s no reason to believe that the Cardinals aren’t going to continue churning out successful big leaguers at a reasonably steady rate.
Add a smattering of good buy-low free agent signings (remember when Lance Berkman was arguably the St. Louis Cardinals best hitter in 2011 with a 163 wRC+, or when Carlos Beltran smashed 32 home runs in 2012?), and you have a really nice run of winning on your hands.
So John Mozeliak isn’t flawless, and his handling of free agency is frequently less than ideal. Noting that — and even complaining about it — isn’t unwarranted, but it is also worth noting that Mo has done a good job playing to his strengths and building a strong and consistent team.
We all know it won’t last forever, but in the midst of your frustration over this year’s lackluster offseason, try to remember all of the things that Mo has done right as a GM too.