#1 - The Front Office
Some of President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak's comments this weekend baffle me almost as much as the move itself (comments come via Ken Rosenthal and Katie Woo's reporting on The Athletic.com, paid subscription required).
"“What I don’t want to have happen is a finger-point, this is all Willson’s fault. It’s not,” Mozeliak said. “There are many parts of our team right now that are not performing to what we expected. I do think the nuances of the catching side, we haven’t had to spend a whole lot of energy thinking about it because of what Yadi did for us. You know that saying, you sometimes feel like you had a coach on the field? That was Yadi. That’s how we thought. Even though you might have a game plan, Yadi had the ability to allow that to evolve during a game, real-time decision-making.""- John Mozeliak, via The Athleitc
Here is what I read with that statement. The Cardinals say it's not "all Willson Contreras' fault", yet he is being removed from his primary responsibility as a Cardinal while the rotation continues to see no significant changes. The Cardinals knew they needed to replace Molina but apparently weren't prepared to actually hand the reigns over to Contreras.
Sounds like a front office issue to me.
The entire baseball industry knew about the question marks surrounding Contreras' ability to call games for years now, so for the Cardinals to already be upset with how things are going behind the plate is shocking on many levels. Did they really now think this would be an issue for them? Did they really think Contreras would come in and even come close to what Yadier Molina provided for them in such a short amount of time?
I get the Cardinals say they have a plan to reinstall Contreras as the catcher, but come on, they have to realize how many issues they are potentially causing here There are surely fractures in their relationship with Contreras now. It will be hard to convince their pitching staff and future free agent pitching that Contreras can be trusted. And they are hurting the rest of their bats by creating a bigger logjam at DH.
If the Cardinals were so willing to make this move already, then why on earth did they not just trade for Sean Murphy this offseason? Ken Rosenthal reminded people again this week that the A's asked for one of Lars Nootbaar or Brendan Donovan plus Gordon Graceffo for Murphy's services. Murphy is currently one of the best hitters in baseball, a great defensive catcher, and easily an MVP candidate at this point in the season. It would've hurt to part with guys like Donovan and Graceffo, but the payoff would've been great.
I agree that Contreras was a good signing, but as I detailed last week, a Murphy trade would have cleared up logjams and opened the Cardinals up to make other moves in free agency. Alas, they went with Contreras, but are hurting his value even more by making the move they have with him.
The way Contreras has responded since this incident went down has been top-class, and I feel like he is endearing himself to Cardinals fans as each day passes by. Let's hope all of this gets resolved soon.