I had a "Plan B". When Mozeliak left the media interview room, he headed over to the main stage for a question and answer session with fans. Even though most of my peers ignore it as redundant and or a waste of time, I see it differently.
I find the session refreshing. The general public has their share of praise givers, but others pull no punches, asking questions that are challenging and sometimes a bit uncomfortable feeling. It isn't that there will be conflicts between the two presentations – in fact, some of the same points were made – but Mo really seemed to enjoy his time bantering with the fans.
So I am including Mo's media session comments in audio form following. For those who want to dig in and understand his points reported elsewhere in the context of his overall remarks, this is the perfect way to do that. For example, if you want to hear his full remarks about Oscar Taveras or hiring Chris Carpenter, this is the place!
The remainder of this article will paraphrase some of Mozeliak's remarks to the general public.
Mo and the audience
On signing Johnny Peralta
Had to move early in the shortstop market. Worried about the impact on his team of trade rumors. Not his job to legislate game. Once penalty served, it becomes a business decision. Understands that not all agree. He believes it is a one-time mistake and hope we can all move on.
On 2014's big questions
Sorthing through seven to eight rotation candidates and the lineup (the latter which he reminds us is the manager's job.)
On Shelby Miller's lack of use in the 2013 post-season
His role was as long man and they didn't need one. By the time they thought he might be needed, he had not pitched in 17-18 days. (Ed. comment: Seems questionable planning. No mention of any physical problems.)
He is an amazing talent. One of the best athletes on the team. Will certainly use him. An elite defender. One of top five in game in speed. Cards have not had a player like that in a long time. Also with Kolten Wong, the Cards are no longer one of the slowest teams in the league.
On a six-man rotation
They have thought about it, but the odds are low. Several starters prefer to go every fifth day, including Wainwright, Lynn and Miller. May skip a start or two along the way.
On Oscar Taveras
Was in St. Louis every month this winter getting checked. Amazing talent. Hope day one he can go.
On any open needs
A "big bopper" off the bench might be the one thing they lack, but "we are pretty comfortable where we are at."
On Jason Motte
Team has to be smart, patient with him. Doesn't know his role yet.
On Chris Carpenter joining front office
Unofficially done. Will not be in uniform. Will be upstairs. Will do some scouting. Working on job description in the next week or two. (applause)
Good enough to play the number one role in the rotation.
On Mark Ellis
He understood the opportunity being created for Kolten Wong and is ok with it. Expecting a competitive camp. Opening day second baseman will be one of the two.
On trading David Freese
A fan wanted to know what to tell his 11-year-old about the trade and why the Cardinals "didn't get much" for Freese. Mo said folks will not say that later and the Cards also received the Angels' number one prospect in Randal Grichuk, was well.
The overall cost of elite talent is high. It is hard to give up three or four young players with six years of control each ahead for one or two years of an elite player. Hopes Wacha and Miller will become elite players themselves.
On prospect expectations
Last year "was the strongest impact you will see!" Need to recruit catchers, shortstops and all infielders. Strength in the outfield prospects plus Craig and Holliday expect to be around a long while. Believes Cards' farm system is in the top third of MLB. Carson Kelly was mentioned as a player to watch in both sessions. Seth Blair was another name dropped.
On international free agents (Cuba and Japan)
First job was to get the Dominican and Venezuela into an effective business model. Also put in place a small group to evaluate business opportunity in markets like Cuba and Japan. Cards are looking for market inefficiencies. Since Cuba market is at an all-time high, maybe that is not the place to go.
On Randal Grichuk
Brings unique combination of speed and power. Profiles more at corner but can play center field.
On growth markets
Need two things – big population and people playing the game. Most countries have one or the other. Colombia, Panama and Chile have people playing baseball, but are small countries. Large nations like China have few playing the game. Expects to see more Cardinals focus in Asia early.
On the Cubs' farm
A questioner asked Mo if he was worried about the highly-stocked Cubs system. Mo noted that the club consistently picks at the top of the draft and traded away players to stockpile prospects. He contrasted that with the Cardinals goal of "perpetual success". Mo said the Cards "are not number one, but we are strong." He closed with a volley: "When they (Cubs) start winning major league games, I'll start getting concerned."
On his time commitment
He works every day all year long except Christmas – even then he watched Cards games rebroadcast on FOX Sports Midwest.
On who will bat second
Carpenter leading off seems a given. Do they want Left-Right-Right in 1-2-3? They have group of candidates to bat second or 4-5-6.
On steroids and the Hall of Fame
He has no control over that, but interpreting the voting, it looks like those players will not get in.
On expanded instant replay
Strong advocate, great steps. Frustrating when 40,000 fans know the call was wrong, but nothing could be done. Incremental changes to the game going forward. Props to Tony La Russa and Joe Torre for getting it done.
On others' role in personnel decisions
Mo wants the manager to have a strong voice. His job is to put the right tools in the tool box for the manager to use. They had much tougher personnel decisions in 2007-08 than now. Sometimes they disagree but that is ok. Don't want everyone saying same thing. Talks with Bill DeWitt Jr. about players, but Bill pretty much stays out of the baseball side.
Check back at The Cardinal Nation for more Winter Warm-Up content throughout the weekend and in the days that follow. Selected photos will be loaded at TheCardinalNationblog.com.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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