The man most often known simply as "Mo" joined the Cardinals' organization in 1995, one year after predecessor and former boss Walt Jocketty was hired. The two had previously worked together for the Colorado Rockies. With the Cards, Mozeliak has played a number of scouting roles, including scouting director in 1999 and 2000.
He became Director of Baseball Operations in 2001 and re-added scouting director duties after the 2003 season. At that time, his title was Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Operations and coordinated both the scouting and player development staffs. He was in the lead for the 2003 and 2004 drafts before vice president of amateur scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow took over that role.
Mozeliak assisted Jocketty with day-to-day club operations, including working with agents and negotiating contracts. His most recent responsibilities were a logical extension as he assumed the acting general manager title a month ago upon Jocketty's dismissal and was given a contract extension as assistant general manager even if he did not receive the GM assignment.
While the most experienced and logical candidate for the GM job, perhaps Mozeliak lacked the sex appeal of the other candidates in the eyes of some. It wasn't a fair characterization, however. Being the most known also meant that he seemed to be taken for granted by some in comparison to the excitement of the unknown.
Ownership had "started with a larger group of candidates then narrowed it down to a few," according to Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. The finalists reportedly included Chicago White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn and Cleveland Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti, and perhaps others. Once the latter had brought his wife to St. Louis to look at real estate, the odds makers installed him as the favorite.
They were wrong.
A source of speculation as to its level of importance to the candidates was the working environment. With ownership having already installed the three most important roles reporting to the general manager, the AGM, farm director and field manager, the new GM could be limited in his authority.
Strong relationships having been established with all three reports as well as ownership clearly helped Mozeliak's cause. So did other top finalists reportedly asking out of the process.
Rumors are that Hahn stepped aside before the World Series and Antonetti also removed himself from consideration in the last few days. That left no doubt that Mozeliak was to be the choice.
Antonetti made this statement to the Cleveland press on Wednesday afternoon. "I am very fortunate to be in a great personal and professional situation in Cleveland. After conversations with (Tribe owners) Mark and Paul Dolan, I am very comfortable with my current position and future with the Indians. I feel privileged to have been considered for the opportunity in St. Louis."
Team president Mark Lamping stated upon questioning during the team's press conference that only one man was offered the job. DeWitt said he called Mozeliak and offered him the job Tuesday.
Mozeliak was properly aggressive and humble. "This is a challenge I have worked a long time for," he said.
He acknowledged the gravity of leading the Cardinals' baseball operations. "I also see an obligation given the history of organization, putting a winner out there at all levels, a huge responsibility that goes around that."
Referencing the need to develop from within, Mozeliak said this. "Everyone knows the landscape is changing and we have to adapt to that and we will."
Much was said in the press about internal communications problems under Jocketty related to a schism between Jocketty associates and those hired by DeWitt, including Luhnow.
Mo, considered a go-between, able to get along with all parties under Jocketty, addressed that right up front. "My relationship with Jeff is outstanding… The analytical department reports directly to the general manager."
The stamp of approval from the returning field manager, Tony La Russa, was firm. "Tony was very supportive," said DeWitt.
Mozeliak plans to ask special assistants Mike Jorgensen and Jerry Walker back, but has not discussed that with them. He will hire his replacement as AGM and will "open up the process" in doing so.
In a radio interview after the announcement, Mozeliak made several player-related comments. He noted he will be looking for two pitchers, "A marquee pitcher and an innings-eater." Upon questioning, Mo named Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols as the Cardinals players considered untouchable in terms of trades.
The next open question is shortstop David Eckstein, the 2006 World Series Most Valuable Player, who filed for free agency this week. Mozeliak acknowledges the two sides "are talking, but nothing is imminent."
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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