The Cardinals don't appear to put much stock in their special assistants

The St. Louis Cardinals' role of special assistant to the President of Baseball Operations doesn't look to hold much weight within the organization.
St. Louis Cardinals Archive
St. Louis Cardinals Archive / St. Louis Cardinals, LLC/GettyImages

When Yadier Molina was named as a special assistant to John Mozeliak before the 2024 season, fans were understandably excited about the role Molina would have with the team. According to Mozeliak, Molina would serve closely with the President of Baseball Operations.

“He’s going to be my right-hand man on everything. He’s going to be someone who gets his feet wet. I plan to have a meeting when he’s done in Puerto Rico in terms of getting with him and letting him understand how we think about player acquisitions and how we value players. Really giving him an introduction to that side of the business. Anything he can do to help our younger catchers, we’ll certainly welcome.” 

But as the mystery of Molina's whereabouts deepens, a question has emerged about the actual significance of the role of special assistant. According to a description of the job, a special assistant to the general manager (which may differ slightly from an assistant to the President of Baseball Operations) assists with team planning and helps with decisions regarding the coaching staff, among other responsibilities.

One would assume that a job alongside Mozeliak contains similar responsibilities, but there is reason to believe that much of the position is that of a figurehead. Former Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter took on the role in 2019 and was unceremoniously laid off when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. According to Carpenter, there was no communication and no desire to bring him back after the pandemic. 

Former Gold Glove outfielder Jim Edmonds also received a job as a special assistant to Mozeliak before the 2019 season and was released from the position during COVID-19. Ex-Cardinals Jason Isringhausen and Ryan Ludwick were two other special assistants who met a similar fate.

If the position of special assistant is disposable enough to be cut because of a loss of revenue, it doesn't appear to be an integral position in the eyes of ownership or Mozeliak. Molina's decision not to show up to Spring Training or be a part of the team in the regular season could be a result of not receiving the responsibilities he expected of the position. When it came to the coaching aspect of Molina's job, Mozeliak seemed noncommittal.

“I think he’s going to want to do that a lot. My guess is his comfort level is going to be more toward that side of things. We definitely know we want to work on some of those things on the front office side that he wants exposure to.”

Carpenter and Edmonds were unable to work as much as they wanted to with pitchers and hitters thanks to the pandemic, but now that baseball has returned to normal, there's no reason that Molina shouldn't be able to work with catchers around the organization. The Cardinals already hired Chaim Bloom to assist Mozeliak with the analytical aspects of the team, so the Cardinals should let Molina serve in a role where he would be the most comfortable.

The role of special assistant to Mozeliak is one that doesn't seem as impactful as it might appear at first glance. The Cardinals should do away with symbolic positions and allow any former players they hire to serve in roles where they can help the organization on the field.