John Mozeliak Speaks

St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak talks with fans and then the media during Day 1 of the Winter Warm Up.

St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak has to be a good sport. Each year during the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up, he agrees to participate in a Q & A session with the fans. But on day one of the event, he might not have expected to have to answer questions about new hitting coach Mark McGwire.

During the session with the fans, "Mo" addressed a wide variety of topics. The first question of the day concerned Rick Ankiel. The GM said the slugger's return is a "long shot" due to the fact the Cardinals cannot offer the at bats he is looking for.

Though the team still has holes to fill, the team will need to come to resolutions in both Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick contract situations before becoming active once again in the free agent market. The team is looking at one-year deals with the players and does not seem interested in multi-year contracts. Both players are arbitration eligible.

He has spoken with the agent of John Smoltz as the Cardinals have their eye on pitching. My impression is that Smoltz might not be a fit plus his T-shirt jersey was on the discount rack at the Cardinals' makeshift team store.

The team will send out a scout to watch Ben Sheets throw next week. Mozeliak doesn't really see a fit due to Sheets' asking price. A player that could be more of a match is his former teammate Derrick Turnbow. The Cardinals sent a scout to watch the beleaguered right-hander's throwing session this past week.

David Freese will get the first shot at the third base job in spring training. Both Joe Mather and Tyler Greene offer the team interesting backup options.

The team's bench will look much younger in 2010.

There is no interest in giving Jim Edmonds a spring training invite.

And no, Walt Jocketty did not call and congratulate Mozeliak after the general manager resigned Matt Holliday to the largest contract in team history.

After facing the fans, Mozeliak then got to face the media in a spontaneous interview session with both the local scribes and a couple members of the national contingent. As expected, most of the questions centered on the team's new hitting coach.

Mozeliak admitted that McGwire's hiring was contigent on the former home run king addressing issues about his past. Though he did not know how it would play out, Mozeliak did admit to having his own personal suspicions.

After the firestorm of the past week after McGwire admitted to the steroid use, his general manager said the decision to hire Big Mac would be the same. He just wanted him to be honest.

On his appearance on Sunday, Mozeliak felt it was important to get him in to St. Louis. He acknowledged that McGwire is a great part of the Cardinals' organization and of the game as a whole.

There was a point during the offseason that the organization thought that the events of this past Monday may not take place. If not, the team was ready to plan an "exit strategy."

Though many might find McGwire's past use of steroids a negative, "Mo" wants to use the situation as an opportunity to take the issue to a higher level.

Though initially disappointed by the admission, Mozeliak acknowledges the courage shown by McGwire. He also believes this shows how much the former slugger wants to get back into the game.

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