Mozeliak sits down with MLB.com
New Cards GM discusses new philosophy, direction of team
In the two weeks since he was installed as the new general manager of the Cardinals, John Mozeliak has already been plenty busy. Now it gets even more complicated, as free agency started on Monday. Mozeliak took some time on Tuesday afternoon to answer questions from MLB.com beat reporter Matthew Leach, discussing the state and direction of the franchise as well as some specific areas of immediate concern on the Major League roster.
MLB.com: When you were introduced as the new general manager, and at other times since then, you and other team representatives have talked about a new way of doing things and a new way of decision-making. What does that mean? How are you going to incorporate the various kinds of information at your disposal?
Mozeliak: I can't get into a lot of detail on that, obviously, because of the sensitivity of the information. But when I refer to the process, I'm referring to creating a matrix of all the different things that should be accounted for in the decision process.
So, an example might be the Asian market. For us to jump in and sign a Japanese player without really understanding the process and without understanding what the true market value is -- and even taking it a little further, about the success or performance over there, how does it equate over here? In other words, it's very difficult for me to go to our ownership group and request an investment of size without being able to really understand the process involved in that.
You can take that and put it into the decision-making process as well here on the Major League free-agent market, which obviously we have a very firm understanding of. But now, when you look at it here in the United States, it's going to be not only looking at simply scouting reports, but there's a whole analytical side of things that we will focus on to help better prepare us in the decision-making process.
MLB.com: Are there clubs that you look at as models for what you're trying to do?
Mozeliak: There are some teams out there that are utilizing these types of models. I think we're going to look at the best business practices out there but ultimately come up with our own way of doing it.
MLB.com: As a follow-up, there's an oversimplified battle between "stats and scouts" for lack of a better way of putting it. Obviously it's not that simple, but how do you intend to incorporate all of the various kinds of information, and make the different viewpoints in the organization work together?
Mozeliak: We've already gotten to the point where we have synergy between both of those departments, working together. Now, we're not at the point yet where we can say one is worth 51 percent and the other is 49, or however you would want to arbitrarily weight them. We are developing that process, but where we are today is that we're looking at both and then utilizing really the scouting side to give us what the human element of that picture looks like and then the analytical side to give a much broader performance metric.
MLB.com: Is the organization more open to performance analysis than it was a year ago, or three or five years ago?
Mozeliak: I think as an organization, we've always been open to it. From a practical standpoint, what I'm trying to do is to implement a lot of these different schools of thought in making sure that we're on the same page as far as how we approach this process.
MLB.com: Do you buy the notion of a success cycle, and that you have to know where you are on it? Where is this team on that cycle?
Mozeliak: What we're trying to accomplish as we move forward -- because, obviously, we're spending a lot of money, and investing a lot of time and energy as well, into our scouting and player development system -- is ultimately for that cycle to deliver players who perform and deliver here in St. Louis. With that said, we are still at a point where we do have to infuse some players, either via trade or the free-agent market, to make us balanced and keep us whole. You really want to get to the point where you're less reliant on the Major League market or having to trade. Are we there yet? No.
MLB.com: Do you feel that it is possible to remain successful, to win at the Major League level, while simultaneously stocking the organization for sustainability?
Mozeliak: Yes. And the reason is because of our ownership's commitment to our payroll. If we were limited there, it would make it so much more difficult. But the fact is that we have the payroll flexibility where we can address some of those needs in a market that has some inflation.
MLB.com: That leads right into the next question. In the past two or three years, for various reasons, this club has seen a dearth of major impact additions, and you guys have taken heat for that. What do you, as an organization, say to those who have concerns about the club's willingness to commit resources to make major acquisitions?
Mozeliak: We have the resources. But what I want everyone to understand is, is it a prudent decision to make? We're not just going to throw money at somebody because that's what other people are doing. We need to make sure that we're assessing and identifying players that can help us. And if they don't fit the financial structure that we believe their value is, why would we just overpay to say we've done something? Because in the end, if you do a bad contract, somewhere along the way, you're going to regret it.
It's easier not to make the mistake than to make the mistake and try to fix it.
MLB.com: A lot of money comes off the books, a lot of contracts end for you, after 2008. That also looks like, potentially, a much more exciting free-agent class. Does that combination of circumstances figure into any of the decision making this winter?
Mozeliak: I definitely think in our position you have to be cognizant of what the '08-'09 free-agent class looks like, and what we might be able to start inserting into our Major League club from our Minor League system. That's definitely a part of the decision process as we move forward. Because, again, if we do make a mistake on the Major League side on a long-term contract, and we start to have a vision of where we can start to add players from our Minor League system, we don't want to be stuck with that contract.
MLB.com: From broad concepts to the more specific, where do things stand at shortstop? Is there movement with David Eckstein? Have recent transactions -- Omar Vizquel re-signing, Edgar Renteria being traded, Juan Uribe re-signing -- changed the equation?
Mozeliak: It hasn't changed the equation from the Cardinals' perspective. I think what you're seeing right now is his representation is exploring the market. It's been less than 24 hours since it opened, and clearly I think they're trying to decide what's best for them. I suspect we will be talking to them at some point. I did reach out to them this morning. But really, from the Cardinals' perspective, we think we understand what's out there. I think it's their turn to have to do their due diligence and explore what's best for David.
MLB.com: Does this team need to add a front-of-the-rotation starter, depth, or both?
Mozeliak: Well, I don't think there's a frontline starter out there [in free agency]. So as much as you would like to improve your rotation by starting from top to bottom, the fact is that there's really no impact starter out there, at least in our minds. Therefore, if we can add somebody that we think has some upside, that would be our goal. But clearly, adding another arm to our rotation makes a lot of sense.
MLB.com: Is Alex Rodriguez a possibility for you guys?
Mozeliak: I don't think that's something that would fit for the Cardinals.
MLB.com: Center field is a position with a lot of big names this winter. You guys have a center fielder, Jim Edmonds, with one year left on his contract, and a center fielder in Colby Rasmus who appears to be, at most, one year away. Do you dip your toes in that market or does it not make sense?
Mozeliak: It doesn't really make sense for us, in terms of blocking somebody like Rasmus. If we thought one of those outfielders could have an impact at one of the corners, and would allow us to do something else, that might interest us or create an opportunity worth exploring. But I'm not getting the sense right now that any of those guys feel like they need to move right now. So with the timing of everything, I just don't see a good fit for the Cardinals.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.