Monday Afternoon GM: Blogger Day Recap With John Mozeliak

After a rough week, the Cardinals rebounded with a 4-2 week. Granted, they went 1-2 against the Dodgers in an ugly fashion. They went 2-0 against the Reds with a rainout.

The Cardinals were lucky to only get a win against the Dodgers. The Cardinals bullpen almost blew game 1 after getting to a 6-1 lead. If it weren’t for an insurance run in the 8th, the Dodgers would have tied the game in the 9th. While they held on, it was the same thing for game 2, only the Dodgers got enough to overcome the Cardinals in the 9th inning. Game 3 wasn’t much of a contest, as the Cardinals were shutout and Dakota Hudson wasn’t all that sharp. Overall, the Cards were outscored 17-13 for the series.

The Reds series was what a Reds series should be: 2 large wins. The Cardinals outscored the Reds 18-6 in the 2 games. Miles Mikolas threw 7 innings of 1 run ball on Saturday and Paul Goldschmidt hit career homer 300 in the win. Sunday’s rainout is rescheduled for September 17th.

Up Next
The All Star break, followed by 3 games in Cincinnati. The Cardinals are 6-3 against the reds this season.

NL Central

WLPctGBLast 10Streak
Milwaukee Brewers5043.5383-7L3
St. Louis Cardinals5044.5320.56-4W2
Pittsburgh Pirates3954.41911.05-5W1
Chicago Cubs3557.38014.51-9W1
Cincinnati Reds3457.37415.06-4L2

The Cardinals go into the break a 1/2 game behind the Brewers. The Cardinals have an easier schedule post-break, so they have an opportunity to make a move. The rest of the division continues to be out of it; all they have to hope for is to play spoiler for the Cards and/or the Brewers.

The Cardinals are on pace for a 86-76 record this season; that’s borderline playoff level.

NL Wild Card

Atlanta Braves56380.596
San Diego Padres52420.553
Philadelphia Phillies49430.533
St. Louis Cardinals50440.532
San Francisco Giants48430.5270.5

Right now, the Cardinals are a percentage point out of the Wild Card; the Phillies have 2 games less then the Cardinals at this point.

Run Differential
The Cardinals have scored 431 runs this season and allowed 366, good for a differential of +65. That should put their record at 54-40, or 4 wins better then they currently are. They are on pace for a 93-69 record if their run differential were at this level to end the season.

Cardinal News

The Cardinals All Stars have changed slightly since they were announced. Nolan Arenado will skip the game to rest his sore back. Ryan Helsley and Mikolas were both named as replacements for other pitchers. They’ll join Goldschmidt and Albert Pujols at the game. Pujols will participate in the Home Run Derby tonight.

To go with the All Star festivities, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn both started for the NL in the Futures Game, a minor league all star game. Both hitters were 0-2 in the game. The highlight was Winn setting a Statcast Era record throw from short to first; he made the throw at 100.5 MPHs, beating the former record set last week of 97.9 MPH by the Pirates Oneil Cruz.

The MLB Draft started on Sunday; the Cardinals took college lefties Cooper Hjerpe and Brycen Mautz with their first 2 picks. Follow the Cardinals draft here.

Jack Flaherty‘s status has gotten murkier; his shoulder required another IL stint, but the Cardinals moved him to the 60-day IL last week. He’s essentially done until late August. The team made the move because they needed a 40-man spot for T.J. McFarland, who was returning from the IL for Covid.

To clear a spot on the active roster for McFarland, Zack Thompson was optioned to Memphis; that stay wouldn’t be long, as he was called back up to replace Dakota Hudson, who is out for 15 days with a neck strain. Drew VerHagen was back on the roster after a hip issue…for 4 days before he returned to the IL for the same issue. Matthew Liberatore was sent down for VerHagen and Steven Matz was activated from the IL to replace him. Tyler O’Neill returned from the IL; Lars Nootbaar was optioned in his place. Noot would only spend a day on the Memphis roster, as he came back to replace Juan Yepez, who went to the IL for a forearm strain.

After being designated for assignment last week, Angel Rondon has been claimed by the Giants; it’s a crappy move for the Cardinals as Rondon gave them 5 big innings of scoreless relief in his only appearance this season. He was continually passed over for other pitchers every time the Cardinals switched guys out; the team should have given him more opportunities.

Brandon Waddell‘s contract sold to the KBO’s Doosan Bears. No loss for the team here; he’s been a depth piece at Memphis and probably wouldn’t see a call up anytime soon.

Cardinal Rumors
The rumor mill is starting to pick up. And big time. Like Juan Soto big. Soto declined a 15 year, $440M deal from the Nationals and the team is open to moving him now. The Cardinals are considered a front runner, mainly because they have the prospect capital to pull off the trade. It’ll cost at least 2 of our top 3 plus an MLB ready outfielder (Dylan Carlson or O’Neill) and other prospects. It’s a huge cost for a very good player; giving up someone like Walker is a big ask.

The Cardinals are still being tied to a bunch of pitcher, including Noah Syndergaard, Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, and Madison Bumgarner. It’s rumored that they are looking for at least 2 starts that can eat innings. More on this down below.

Minor Leagues

  • Memphis Redbirds: 50-40
    • Up Next: vs Gwinnett Stripers (44-46)
  • Springfield Cardinals: 41-46
    • Up Next: @ Northwest Arkansas Naturals (38-48)
    • Jacob Buchberger (3B) promoted from Peoria
  • Peoria Chiefs: 35-52
    • Up Next: @ Cedar Rapids Kernals (55-32)
  • Palm Beach Cardinals: 42-43
    • Up Next: @ Daytona Tortugas (36-49)
  • Florida Complex League Cardinals: 12-16
  • Dominican Summer League Cardinals: 17-16

Former Cardinals

  • Oscar Mercado (OF, Guardians) is having a rough go on the waiver wire; a week after being re-claimed by the Guardians, he’s been DFAed again and outrighted to Triple A. It’s the third time he’s been DFAed in the last month.

John Mozeliak Talks to Bloggers At Stadium
This past Saturday was the 11th Annual Blogger Day at the Stadium; John Mozeliak talked with us about a variety of topics. Here are the highlights of the conversation:

  • The Cardinals know they have a special fanbase and make moves to continue to compete. They want a good core of players, from Pujols/Jim Edmonds/Scott Rolen to Matt Holliday.
  • They are a pipeline driven organization to offset the big acquisition. It’s needed because they are considered the 24th/26th biggest market while they are in the top 10 in payroll. Baseball is a strategic games since they don’t have a salary cap/level playing field like other sports.
  • The Marcell Ozuna trade is one they regret; Sandy Alcantara would be nice every 5th day. “It’s the cost of playing poker” though.
  • The worst time to make a trade is the deadline; there is an “acquisition cost” for making a deal before the deadline.
  • The draft model of the team is a split between analytics and scouting, which has allowed them to “optimize” the draft. Player development is a big factor in draft success; they are getting the most out of the players they are drafting.
  • Mo was starting to move out of the GM duties prior to the pandemic, but everyone’s job changed within the organization. He’s still fulfilling many of the GM duties because of how the game changed. His goal is to make the organization the best it can be, whether it’s as GM or President of Baseball Operations.
  • Jeff Albert has done what they were hoping for; there was some tension last season, but things are going well now. He called him a “mad scientist”. Mo acknowledged that the organization was behind in analytics. The team was drafting college players that had better analytics in college then the Cardinals had. Albert is a proponent for getting the players up to speed on numbers and mechanics; things like exit velocity, bat speed, launch angles, etc. They also have other traditional coaches that work with hitters on mechanics and what they are seeing.
  • He’s an advocate for speeding the game up with things like the pitch clock; as someone that is at the stadium a lot, a quicker game would get him a little more down time.
  • On of the biggest changes that the front office has seen is the coaching staff wanting more information; coaches are wanting more analytics to help in game decisions for everything from pitch calling to lineup construction. They give the info to the coaches and allow them to use it as they see fit. The game has gotten easier and harder; they have better tools for building their team, but they are also under a bigger microscope for the moves they make.
  • The organization knew they had something special with Walker when he came into the minor league alt camp during the 2020 season; he was playing against older competition and was holding his own. He also hit the ball hard. They don’t know where they’ll play him at yet.
  • Mo is happy with Oliver Marmol‘s progress as a manager. He’s wanting to help the team while also learning about how he can be better. If Oli doesn’t use a player, it’s typically because the player’s not available.
  • “Never speak in absolutes” is his attitude about trading players; no one is off the table when they talk with other teams. The Cardinals need innings; they don’t know at this time if they’ll look for rentals or more controllable players. They aren’t ruling out either, but it really depends on how the market develops and what other teams are asking for. And he’s not trading Walker.
  • Arenado’s recent comments about wanting to win and the opt out in his contract have no impact on what the team will do. If they took every adjust their process to other factors, they’ll possibly make moves they don’t want or need to make. They like the team right now and don’t want to change the dynamic they have because someone says something to the media.
  • It’s impossible to keep the masses happy about minor league conditions. The MLB clubs are covering housing and providing better food options. Unfortunately they can’t make everyone minor leaguer happy (if you don’t like chicken and that’s what they are serving, you might have an upset player). They see some of the same issues at the Major League level. Many of the issues with the minors are handled by the performance staff, which has nutritionists, that is split between St. Louis and Palm Beach; Mo will get involved when there are bigger issues. When he first started in the game, Spring Training breakfast was a limited amount of cereal and soup for lunch; many players missed out if they were late. Now they supply much better meals overall.
  • Bringing in Albert was not just a nostalgic decision. He’s been big in working with younger players. There were concerns about how he could help the team when they signed him. The relationship between Mo and Albert in 2011 was a little strained, but it’s all water under the bridge.
  • Mo thinks they are better at finding relievers then they were earlier in his career. They look at what the club was lacking (like the problem with walks last year) and address them.
  • McFarland is brought up; while he was good last year, he’s struggled this year. Mo hears the fans wanting to let go of struggling players like McFarland, but he notes that he’s in a position where he can’t just get rid of every bad player when they struggle. Struggles can be temporary; he notes that during McFarland’s rehab stint he was starting to spin the ball more like last year. He also notes that word gets around when an organization jettisons players as soon as they struggle; players may avoid going there. “Managing rosters is hard.”
  • The team looked at ways to improve offense outside of adding players, like moving in the walls; they did a wind study to see how it impacted the ball. At this point, everything was pretty inconclusive and they are still evaluating what else can be done.
  • Mo talked with Yadier Molina last Tuesday and he stated he was ready to start baseball activities and is feeling better then he had been. They are looking at early August activation as of right now.

Check back later this week; I’ll be releasing a podcast with actual clips of the event and some analysis of what was said.

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