The St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday the hiring of interim GM John Mozeliak as their new general manager Wednesday, promoting him to replace the recently departed Walt Jocketty.

The Cardinals had interviewed at least three other candidates to include; Chris Antonetti of the Indians, Peter Woodfork of the Diamondbacks and Rick Hahn of the Rockies but at the end decided to give one of their own a three-year deal.

Mozeliak, a 12-year veteran of the Cardinals front office, was introduced as the new GM on Wednesday by Bill DeWitt, Jr., Cardinals chairman of the board and general partner. Mozeliak, who will carry the title of vice president and general manager.

John Mozeliak, 38, has been the club's interim general manager since Walt Jocketty was fired and parted ways with the franchise on October 3 following 13 seasons.

The new general manager will have some big shoes to fill as the organization's new general manager following the distinguished career of Walt Jocketty. During Jocketty's tenure, the Cardinals won six National League Central Division titles, one wild card berth, two NL pennants and the World Series in 2006.

John joined the organization following the 1995 season and served as an assistant in scouting operations in 1996 and 1997 and as the assistance scouting director in 1998. He was the Cardinals' scouting director during the 1999 and 2000 seasons before becoming the Director of Baseball Operations in 2001. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager in January of 2003 and also held the responsibilities as the team's scouting director for two seasons (2003-2004)

Prior to the 2005 season Mozeliak's duties were changed to increase his focus on the major league club with added responsibilities in professional scouting. Mozeliak had spent the past five seasons as the Assistant General Manager and has been with the St. Louis Cardinals for eleven seasons.

Taking advantage of the opportunity after being named the Cardinals interim GM in the wake of Jocketty's departure, Mozeliak has been conducting business as usual around Busch Stadium. He has already picked up the $8 million option on closer Jason Isringhausen and has retained two prospective free agents, right-handers Russ Springer ($3.5 million, one year) and Joel Pineiro ($13 million, two years).

"'Mo' has proven to us - and to everyone in baseball - that he is one of the game's rising young stars in any Major League Baseball front office," DeWitt said in the Cardinals press release. "Mo brings a great deal of strength to all areas of our baseball operations - amateur and pro scouting, player development, drafting, negotiations, player acquisitions, and the day-to-day management of a Major League ballclub. Mo is also a terrific communicator with excellent relationships within our organization and throughout the game, from scouts to agents to his fellow GMs throughout both leagues.

"As everyone knows, Mo has been a candidate for GM positions elsewhere and he has been extremely impressive over the past four weeks as our interim general manager. We are proud, and fortunate, that he will remain a member of the Cardinals family in the most important capacity within our baseball department."

"I could not be more proud to continue my association with the St. Louis Cardinals as our general manager," said Mozeliak. "I am grateful for the opportunity and I assure Cardinals fans everywhere that we will have success. I am honored, committed and ready to start today toward building the best operation in baseball."

Given the Cardinals finished the 2007 season with a dismal 78-84 record, seven games back of the Division Champions, the Chicago Cubs, Mozeliak will have his job cut out for him. On his things to do list, top priorities include; he'll need to find at least one starting pitcher perhaps two. He'll need to decide on how far to go to keep free agent shortstop David Eckstein from moving on or giving the nod to rookie infielder Brendan Ryan. The Cardinals also need to find an outfield bat to give Albert Pujols added protection in the lineup.

There have some reports that Mozeliak, may not have been the Cardinals' first choice. One Foxsports.com report had Cleveland Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti, as the front-runner to replace Jocketty, but major-league sources told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Antonelli backed out after the Indians negotiated with him to stay

My take is, with Jeff Luhnow entrenched in the organization as the Vice-President of Amateur Scouting and Player Development and Tony La Russa and his coaching staff returning for the next two seasons, Mozeliak, a dedicated, highly competent organizational man, is the right man in the right place at the right time to unite the divided camps within baseball operations and lead the Cardinals back into contention next season for a World Championship.

He's certainly off to a good start, keeping Jason Isringhausen, Joel Pineiro and Russ Springer in a Cardinals uniform for next season, but the big question is, will he be able to keep up with this early "mo"mentum.

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