Mozeliak on pitchers
Starting pitching was the issue in the offseason, and Mozeliak said in the Winter Warm-Up meetings that the team wasn’t very active in pursuing starters, choosing to trust the rotation it had. He appeared to backtrack on those comments somewhat in the interview, saying there were starters the team was engaged with.
If the Cardinals were seeking a free-agent pitcher, it doesn’t appear they were looking at the top arms, choosing instead to complement the rotation they had already decided on. Still, if Mozeliak’s latest comments are true, it could confirm many fans’ fears that many players aren’t interested in playing in St. Louis.
Mozeliak’s quote about all the starters the team was engaged with being on the injured list or not playing well seems to be a convenient out for him. It appears that the team dodged a bullet that it was trying to get in the way of, so while I can give some credit to the team for likely not offering dump trucks of money to these free agents, much of this looks to be luck smiling upon the front office.
The front office continually bangs the drum of developing talent from within, and while there are serious questions about well how the team is doing with that nowadays, Matthew Liberatore might be a recent success story for the Cardinals’ development team. Liberatore won the minor leagues’ International League Pitcher of the Month Award in April, and upon promotion, he pitched well in his season debut for the Cardinals, going five innings and allowing three hits while striking out six and allowing no runs. The only blemish was the three walks allowed.
Mozeliak suggested that Liberatore will be in the bullpen before receiving another start when it’s his turn in the new six-man rotation. Personally, I think the Cardinals should stop messing with Liberatore’s roles and make him a permanent piece of the rotation. I’m not opposed to a six-man rotation, but the Cardinals appear hesitant to move Steven Matz to the bullpen given the sizable contract the team gave him.
The Cardinals might still have reservations about Liberatore. A graphic from Eno Sarris about Liberatore’s Stuff+ stat shows that he was underwhelming in what he threw, even though the results were positive. He also only threw two pitches for the majority of his outing: a fastball and a curveball. Very few pitchers are able to survive in a rotation with only two pitches.
Despite these qualms, the current rotation isn’t something to write home about, so Liberatore might as well get some starts until he proves that he isn’t fit for the job.
Mozeliak also made comments on some of the drama surrounding their position players.