Cardinals GM John Mozeliak in WWU Main Tent

St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak took fan questions at the Winter Warm-Up event.

In the free article recapping Saturday’s interviews from the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up, a 45-minute clip of general manager John Mozeliak’s remarks to the media was included. These comments are being widely reported by many media sources.

Earlier Saturday, Mo spent two hours in the main tent in front of hundreds of fans. It began with a 15-minute question and answer session moderated by FOX Sports Midwest play-by-play man Dan McLaughlin. The audio for that segment follows, along with my summary.

Following the structured Q&A, Mozeliak fielded fan questions for over an hour. Rather than post that entire audio, I have summarized key points made below in rough groupings. As you can imagine, the GM covered a number of points not made elsewhere.

If readers have any questions about any of this, please comment on The Cardinal Nation’s insiders’ forum and I will do my best to answer.

Points covered in audio

Not one thing we had to do this winter. Team tired in second half – Gyorko added as protection. Small incremental moves.

Organization plan 10-12 years ago was to get draft right. Competitive advantage. Next was Latin America. Three pitchers in GCL this season throwing 100 mph. 3-4 years ago, Asia. Get boots on ground for scouting plus analytics.

Remain opportunistic this time of year, but not in hot pursuit of anyone. Will look to add one more catcher as Molina insurance.

Farm system trending up – 3 picks in top 50 in 2016 draft. Alex Reyes would have been top player to emerge, but don’t count out Tilson. Not real deep at Triple-A, so had to be aggressive with 6-year minor league free agents. Next group of prospects coming.

Competition at 1B between Moss and Adams. If 1 wins job, need to find at-bats for other. Main question for 2016 is Molina health – don’t push him too fast. WWU = 1st step to optimism for new season.

Fan Q&A (not recorded as it was over 90 minutes in duration)

Why not Upton on shorter deal? Not excited about loss of draft pick for one-year player.
Making bet on Adams and Moss to provide home runs.
Don’t want to re-live negotiations, but said Cards did not have chance to match Boston on final offer to Price.

Pitchers against 6-man rotation, pride and economics reasons. Had plan in Aug 2015 to get Wacha, Martinez rest, but foiled by Cooney injury, Gonzales problems.
Wacha, Martinez cleared to go. Key to watch them early.
All three lefties (Lyons, Gonzales, Cooney) to be stretched out as starters in spring, but 1-2 of them could open in pen. Did not sign lefty specialist.

Surprised strength of relief market – many getting 2-3 year deals.
Not surprised OF market was slow to develop – many options.
Toughest part of his job is dealing with media. Had on-the-job training for other parts of job.

Cardinals do things differently in scouting. Wanted flexible scouting director.
Randy Flores has advanced degree, scouting experience.
How to be GM? Changing. Need business mind. Knowledge of advanced statistics. Hopes future GMs working for him. Passion not enough. What do I add?
Scouts vs. stats. Remain disciplined to process. Let blend work out and trust it.
He does not scout players before draft. Can see too few and don’t want to bias decisions.
Farm director and minor league managers make player move decisions.

Molina’s cast scheduled to be off in mid-February. Will work to get him back for opening day.
Expects Aledmys Diaz will make noise in 2016, but may start in Memphis. Had culture acclimation, pressure of contract to deal with. Will keep moving him around defensively like in Arizona Fall League. Less than 50-50 chance of making StL in spring.
Greg Garcia has nothing left to prove at Triple-A. His time, his moment.
Carlos Martinez has #1 potential.
Holliday at first base – trying to give team flexibility and broaden his portfolio. Appreciate his effort. Will see in spring. If he could do it, team would be open.
Oh has some English understanding. Already handled Korean to Japanese transition. Taking a chance on him because their knowledge of Japan is different. His style is just what Cardinals needed. 2009 WBC may have been their first look at him.
Carpenter could be 1-2 or 3 in batting order. Wouldn’t be shocked with him leading off.
Talked to Mark Buehrle’s agent several times earlier in winter. Tough fit now with Leake signed. Tried early on.

On Alex Reyes lesson – don’t smoke dope! Org tries to educate young players, but they make mistakes. Will not be in MLB camp this spring.
Cuban players – more of political question but when players have workouts, Cardinals are there. Will see our fingerprints on Cuban market over time.
Matt Belisle was great teammate, but limited opportunity for him now. Did not get return last year. Had to acquire Broxton, Cishek.
Players with most defensive upside are Wong and Piscotty. Both are capable of future Gold Gloves. Don’t rule out Grichuk, either.
Jordan Walden – hopes he can contribute. Fingers crossed he will be available day one.
Rosenthal as starter – realistic number of innings he could provide are lower. Put them in August-September bind. Would be difficult transition for him.
On loss of Heyward – need other side to agree. Not right place, right timing. Always “pity me” party after loss. Still have opportunities to spend, get better. Remain disciplined.
TV contract gives team more resources to deploy. May be able to take advantage of free agent market. Not where they will live and die, though.

Won’t be shocked if draft pick comp changes ahead.
Teams offering opt outs may get in trouble.
Would like to see slide rule at 2B (and all bases). Some traditionalists against it, but catcher protection working.
Contracts used to be based on past performance. Now based on age, future performance drives decision making.
Player insurance very expensive. On deals over three years, insurance company can revisit. Could exclude injury in out year. Players have to undergo separate insurance physical. Cards do them. Some are 90 days, others 120 day deductible – cost tradeoff. Best case is recovery of 50-75 cents on dollar. No 100 percent reimbursement.
Yes, they act differently when other teams rebuild. Affects math and roster composition.
Likes combined US-international draft. Too many teams blowing through tax today.

On Carlos Gonzalez. Couldn’t stomach trade. Colorado says they are not trading him. No reason to not believe them.
Team chemistry is quiet when things going well. Matheny is benefit. Triple-A manager is hardest job.
Trades start two ways. One is ambulance chaser. Someone trying to move a player or money. Other is to refresh a position – see opportunity to get younger. Busiest times are late May through July and Nov-Dec. Early in season as alternative to free agents.
Due diligence = assess value, age, control factors – stay true to process.
Posting of Asian players – Not opposed if right player, right time. Tried in Korea this winter. Different process in Japan.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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