The St. Louis Cardinals have a winning tradition backed by an enthusiastic fan base. Year in and year out, Cardinal Nation holds the club accountable for producing a contender, and their steadfast commitment to the team seems to have produced a strong organization.
Yes, there are things like payroll that should frustrate and concern Cardinal fans, but St. Louis has one of the strongest organizations in all of baseball currently, thanks to the leadership of President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. While Mozeliak doesn't seem to be going anywhere in the near future, there is speculation that the club is preparing for life after Mozeliak with some of their key front-office members.
In his piece titled "5 observations about the St. Louis Cardinals' fascinating, anticlimactic 2022 season", Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat laid out how the breadcrumbs are present for a succession plan in St. Louis.
"Without any fanfare, GM Michael Girsch and assistant GM Randy Flores were granted multi-year contract extensions at the end of the season. With John Mozeliak’s deal set to expire at the end of the 2023 season, it’s easy to see the outline of a succession plan in place. Mozeliak has been in charge of on-field decisions for the Cardinals for the last 15 years and has deftly guided the organization to a championship while overseeing overwhelming financial success and cementing himself in the favor of ownership. When change comes, it will be on his time, at his discretion. Girsch and Flores have been chased for major leadership roles in baseball over the past several years, and neither has seen fit to jump. Both recognize the value of their roles and the opportunity which is soon to arrive here. The Mo monolith won’t last forever."- Jeff Jones
First, there was fanfare over here at Redbird Rants, as Cardinals Nation has grown more and more aware over the last few years of how good Randy Flores and Michael Girsch are at their jobs (check out our piece on their extensions here, where we broke down some of what makes their long-term options for the Cardinals).
Second, it makes sense that St. Louis would be preparing for life after Mozeliak, should he choose to step away over the next five years. Yes, his contract is set to expire after 2023, but I would be shocked if this were his last year with the team. As Jones indicated, Mozeliak will likely leave when he is ready to, not because the club has decided to move on from him.
Since taking over before the 2008 season, Mozeliak has led St. Louis to a 1,289-1,037 record, six division titles, ten playoff births, two National League pennants, and one World Series title. He has now set up St. Louis to be a 90+ win ball club in 2023 with a top 3 farm system full of star talent and future difference-makers. It's hard to find many situations that are better long-term in today's game.
Mozeliak deserves so much credit for how he leads the organization and how he empowers his team to lead with him, but it is clear that both Michael Girsch and Randy Flores deserve a ton of credit now as well, which is why the club is willing to dish out extensions to try and keep them from moving on to other organizations.
It may become more and more difficult to retain Flores and Girsch moving forward as the Cardinals continue to churn out exciting prospects and a talented roster. Both of them will lead an organization at some point in their career but see value in remaining in St. Louis due to their current roles and the potential to move up the ladder in the future.
It remains to be seen how a John Mozeliak extension is handled this year and what the future of this leadership group is. But what is certain is the Cardinals are in good hands for years to come when it comes to their front office.