Cards garnering better understanding of market
While not close to making any deals, club touching base with agents, other teams
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While the Cardinals remain transaction-free so far in their Winter Meetings stay, general manager John Mozeliak said they have accomplished some of their information-gathering objectives.
Mozeliak is using his time at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort to meet with agents of players who could complete the organization's search to add a right-handed infielder before Spring Training opens. The club feels no urgency to consummate a deal before departing from the Winter Meetings, but it would like to return to St. Louis with a better understanding of the market.
"We're trying to identify the likelihood of creating some sort of match there, if possible," Mozeliak said. "I think the other thing we are focused on is exploring any potential trade options that might make sense for us. But overall, it just isn't something that I think our greatest needs are creating that much of an interest. We're somewhat a little bit in some paralysis, just because where we're fishing in the shallow end and it's not drawing a ton of attention."
While the Cardinals' pitching depth is the envy of other organizations, Mozeliak said those young pitchers have garnered only limited interest by other clubs. The inquiries began to decline after teams watched the Cards address their two biggest holes -- shortstop and center field -- without having to part with any pitching. Most of the calls before that point had been from teams that believed they could help the Cardinals upgrade in one of those two areas in exchange for pitching.
"There have been some teams that have inquired about it, but not to the extent of, I think, maybe public perception," Mozeliak said. "And by us filling the need at short already and addressing our center field without having to move pitching, I think it sent the message that it wasn't about us just giving up on it."
Mozeliak added that the Cardinals do not see a need to add any more pitchers this offseason, either. With a plethora of starters and a cavalry of young arms, Mozeliak believes the organization already has sufficient depth to fill out the bullpen internally.
Bell set to become Cards' assistant hitting coach
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cardinals are in the process of finalizing an agreement that would bring David Bell to St. Louis as the team's next assistant hitting coach. General manager John Mozeliak chose not to comment on those negotiations while meeting with the media on Tuesday, but he did confirm that the rest of the Cardinals' Major League staff will be returning in 2014.
Bell, who most recently served as the Cubs' third-base coach, will fill the coaching vacancy created when Bengie Molina left to accept a coaching position with the Rangers last month. Bell will work alongside John Mabry, who is entering his second season as the Cardinals' hitting coach.
The two know each other well, too, as they were teammates in St. Louis from 1995-98, and again with the Mariners in 1999. Bell played with six teams over 12 Major League seasons, primarily as a third baseman. He has climbed the coaching ladder since his retirement in 2006.
Bell managed the Reds' Double-A affiliate for three seasons before managing the organization's Triple-A club in 2012. He joined Dale Sveum's staff in Chicago prior to the 2013 season, but began seeking a new employer after Sveum was fired as Chicago's manager after the season. Sveum's entire staff was dismissed with him.
Matheny helping lead charge vs. collisions at plate
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, along with Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, will lead a discussion on Wednesday urging Major League Baseball's general managers and managers to eliminate home-plate collisions.
The two have already helped the discussion of a rule change gain momentum by speaking publicly about the concussion and injury risks that come from allowing such runner-to-catcher impact. While there remains some resistance to eliminate that play, the Cardinals remain fully behind pushing for a change.
Some of that is due to how personal this is for Matheny, whose playing career ended prematurely due to concussions he sustained as a catcher. But it also has much to do with Yadier Molina, one of the organization's most important assets. If there is a way to reduce the risk of injury to their All-Star catcher, the Cardinals will offer their full support.
"Obviously, we have Yadier Molina -- who is probably the most elite player at that position -- and we want to do everything we can to keep him on the field," general manager John Mozeliak said. "It does seem a little odd that everywhere else in the game of baseball, you can't do it. But at the professional level you can. From our perspective, we would like to see that rule change."
Mozeliak said he believes opposition to Matheny's stance is waning in the wake of larger contracts. As teams increase their financial investment in players, there becomes more of an urgency to keep risk low. Molina, for instance, is about to begin the second year of his five-year, $75 million contract in 2014.
Buster Posey's season-ending injury and Matheny's repeated public pleas have brought additional attention to this issue. So too has recent research into the effects of concussions.
"I'm proud of the league for taking a step forward," Matheny said. "I don't know how it's all going to play out. But people who know me know my stance on this. I just believe it's something that we can't turn a blind eye to what's going on in these other sports. Let's learn from what's going on there and see if we can make our sport better."
Mozeliak reacts to delay in Memphis vote
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A day after the Memphis City Council delayed its vote on the Cardinals' proposal to purchase their Triple-A affiliate, Cards general manager John Mozeliak said he is "still optimistic we can find a way to get this done."
Council members will reconvene to discuss this issue next Tuesday during a meeting that Mozeliak plans to attend. They have now twice postponed their vote on an agreement that would allow the city to finalize its purchase of AutoZone Park and the Cardinals to assume ownership of the Redbirds franchise.
"Obviously, I thought last night was disappointing," Mozeliak said. "But I understand that the city has an obligation to do what they feel is right. I certainly respect what is happening from an administration standpoint and from a city council standpoint."
During Monday's lengthy debate on the topic, city council members brought up the possibility of perhaps asking for a change in the financial structure of the deal. As it is written now, the Cardinals would purchase the affiliate for $15 million and Memphis would pay $20 million to own the ballpark.
Mozeliak would not comment on whether the Cardinals would be willing to change any financial figures on their end.
As it stands now, the Cards' player development contract with the Redbirds is set to expire after the 2014 season. If this proposal passes, the Cardinals would be agreeing to another 17-year lease. Mozeliak said it is too early to know whether St. Louis would pull out of Memphis if the proposal fails. The Cardinals have made Memphis their Triple-A home since 1998.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.