St. Louis Cardinals: Let’s pause and appreciate John Mozeliak
St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has been riding high with fans. These moments are far too rare.
We St. Louis Cardinals fans are a fickle bunch. We’re accustomed to success and expect nothing less. A season around .500 is a failure. And for better or for worse, John Mozeliak is a key reason for our elevated expectations.
I know an article praising Mozeliak doesn’t hold much weight when it comes after he acquired a superstar and basically gave up pennies, but moments like these where people appreciate him need to be more frequent occurrences on the fans’ part.
The fact that the Cardinals have continued to win and contend for titles long after other teams’ championship windows have opened and shut multiple times speaks volumes. This man is committed to fielding a winner and making Cardinals fans happy.
It’s human nature to focus on the negatives more than the positives. One could say his acquisitions of relief pitchers have failed more often than they’ve succeeded. And yes, Mozeliak let go of Luke Voit and Randy Arozarena only for them to flourish with other teams. It felt like a dagger to the heart every time people gushed over Arozarena in the postseason last year. But this just goes to remind us that while the front office has access to all the latest stats and technology to assess players, it still can’t tell the future.
In Cardinals fans’ eternal thirst for winning, many have noticed Mozeliak’s shrewdness this offseason. He acquired Nolan Arenado while re-signing fan favorite and career Cardinal Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals seem likely to retain Yadier Molina’s services. Kolten Wong was let go, and that stings, but Mozeliak needs to keep team finances in check.
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I’ve seen some bitterness regarding Wong’s departure, and I will miss him. But it shows Mozeliak is still looking toward the future while having a good team on the field right now. The team needed to get younger, especially with Wainwright and possibly Molina returning. The absence of Wong means the young Nolan Gorman can take some reps at second base and try to learn that position.
Mozeliak also recently traded Dexter Fowler for a player to be named later or cash considerations. This frees up space for the younger outfielders to play. Tyler O’Neill will show if he can sink or swim, and Dylan Carlson will receive an everyday opportunity as well.
These moves have always been the way Mozeliak has handled the team. When Albert Pujols was not re-signed, St. Louis was in an uproar, but his leaving made room for Allen Craig to put on a historic performance two seasons later. Now we have Paul Goldschmidt, who rebounded in 2020 after a poor 2019 (by Goldschmidt’s standards).
This position is a balancing act, and few have been able to do it as well as Mozeliak has. Many teams that go all in for a World Series are forced to rebuild immediately afterward. It doesn’t look like this will be the case with the Cardinals.
Mozeliak has shown a remarkable ability to build a winner and stay a winner, and while not every move he makes will break the Cardinals’ way, the fact that he has not made a move with the intention of tanking is commendable.