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Friday, September 15, 2023

Cardinals’ disappointing 2023 season can and must be turned around in 2024; is John Mozeliak up for the task?

That brings us to the front office helmed by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. There’s no assailing his broader record of success as the Cardinals’ lead operator. First as general manager and then in his current role, Mozeliak has guided the Cardinals since the fall of 2007, and they’ve enjoyed a tremendous level of success during his tenure - 10 playoff appearances and a World Series title in 2011. One lost season doesn’t meaningfully tarnish those prior achievements, especially in light of the Cardinals’ market size and (somewhat self-inflicted) payroll limitations, but it does raise questions about the future. That’s especially the case since Mozeliak failed to address the rotation last offseason, and that flawed rotation was the prime mover in the Cardinals’ 2023 failures.

It’s hard to imagine that team owner Bill DeWitt Jr. is pondering a change at the top of baseball ops based on the current season, but Mozeliak has some things to prove in the coming winter. The Cardinals, according to Mozeliak’s own words, are committed to adding multiple starting pitchers to the rotation (presumably at the front end), which amounts to an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the 2022-23 offseason. Whether he does so via free agency or trade or some combination thereof, there’s a great deal of pressure for these additions to succeed and drive a return to relevance in 2024. If that doesn’t come to pass, then change may be afoot.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2023 at 09:32 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals

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   1. The Duke Posted: September 15, 2023 at 11:54 AM (#6141424)
The cardinals and giants always strike me as orgs with similar philosophies: be good every year with above average but not insane budget. This logic has worked well but also leaves these teams with lower round drafts. The cardinals have simply not been able to find pitchers and can't afford to sign big free agents. Even the hitting prospects are showing flaws. Gorman and Walker can hit but can't play the field which caps their long term value (still early, they could get better).

There's more teams trying now than there used to be as well. It's really hard to win a lot without mega spending and while it gives you a big leg up in the post-season, it doesn't guarantee a trip to the Series (it's likely the dodgers will suffer that fate this year)

The be-good, not great every year model might not work anymore
   2. DL from MN Posted: September 15, 2023 at 12:05 PM (#6141428)
The be-good, not great every year model might not work anymore

The Cardinals have done a remarkable job with player development over the years but they are an organization that needs to grow its own talent and drafting low every year will eventually catch up to them.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2023 at 12:28 PM (#6141430)
Meh, their last few post-season appearances were stymied by a lack of offense not hitting. They're a very well run organization that had a season where everything that could go wrong did. With starting pitching mattering less than ever, I think taking an approach of "we'll develop hitters and find a few mid-tier FA pitchers once inawhile" is fine. I think if they did want an "ace" they likely have the minor league depth to make a big trade if they wanted to. I think firing Mo for what was essentially a bad season due to a lot of bad luck in one-run games would be kinda foolish, but perhaps a fresh set of eyes is what the org needs at this point.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: September 15, 2023 at 12:54 PM (#6141435)
The Cardinals were the original team for two of the best starters in the NL. It's not only their draft position/budget that has kept them from having aces.
   5. The Duke Posted: September 15, 2023 at 01:40 PM (#6141448)
There's a healthy debate about whether Gallen and alcantara would have even developed for the cardinals. Alcantara appeared to be headed into relieving and Gallen was not even considered a prospect. Add to that missing out on adolis Garcia (as every team did) and Randy Arozarena makes one think they have a minor league development issue. You should never mis - evaluate guys in huge own system
   6. Cris E Posted: September 15, 2023 at 03:10 PM (#6141461)
MN had a similar season last year where everyone got hurt and the survivors under-performed. To rebuild the rotation Falvey had Grey but kept him healthier in 2023, had some callow youth that matured to perform better, got Maeda back from a UCL rebuild, and traded a big piece for Lopez. There were no huge FA signings, as mostly everyone (Grey, Maeda, Lopez, Mahle, Paddack) had been acquired via trade in the previous year or three. It's doable if you identify the right guys to trade for, and in fact STL has been good at that in the recent past, Gallen and Alcantara notwithstanding. Some clinkers have to be expected: MN lost Cano in a trade for the failed BAL Lopez too.
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: September 15, 2023 at 07:45 PM (#6141497)
I was amazed in the preseason that the Cardinals thought they had a reasonable SP staff.
They didn't.

In fact, their overall ERA+ is just 90.

BY IP, and ERA+, 5+ starts
Mikolas 176, 91
Montgomery 121, 126 - traded to Texas
Flaherty 110, 97 - traded to Baltimore
Matz 105, 112-IL
Wainwright 95, 54 (oof)
DakHudson 65, 85 as a swingman
Liberatore 54, 76
ZThompson 51, 107 as a swingman
Woodford 40, 76 as a swingman
Rom 23, 73

so Montgomery, Flaherty, and Wainwright are out of the 2024 picture.

Mikolas and Matz are ok if healthy, I suppose, but Mikolas is 35 and Matz is 32.
Hudson, a 2016 1st-round pick who turns 29 next week, has a 107 ERA+ in 76 starts/111 games - but a sub-90 ERA+ in each of the last 2 years.
huh, Liberatore is still only 23 so no reason to quit on him just yet.
ZThompson, 25, is a 2019 1st-rounder who shone in the 'pen last year.
Rom, age 23, was just acquired for Flaherty and has been promoted to The Show.
Tink Hence is a silly name but he looks like a legit prospect.

hmm, that actually is a lot better than I expected when I started poking around.

if they sign a durable, decent SP as a FA, I might go "Over" in 2024.
   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2023 at 01:29 AM (#6141522)
great summary Howie. Was interested in that.
   9. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 16, 2023 at 01:20 PM (#6141540)
Cardinals’ disappointing 2023 season

Hey Cardinals fans! This'll be your first losing season in sixteen years, and only the second in this century. When you've had, like, several losing seasons in a row, then you can complain.

A Tigers Fan
   10. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2023 at 08:41 AM (#6141591)
The Cardinals have been good for almost 30 years and haven't had any real stretch of badness since the draft has started. So no, drafting low does not eventually catch up to you.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2023 at 05:23 PM (#6141617)
Hey Cardinals fans! This'll be your first losing season in sixteen years, and only the second in this century. When you've had, like, several losing seasons in a row, then you can complain.

A Tigers Fan

I fully agree with this sentiment, unfortunately I have to listen to these know nothing semi-moron baseball fans in St Louis who seem to think that it's perfectly logical to blame everyone for everything, instead of just acknowledging that it was a bad year in which pretty much everyone underperformed the first half of the season and created a pit that wasn't able to be overcome.

If this was a computer simulation, this was the end result of about the worse random pool of events.
   12. Tom and Shivs couples counselor Posted: September 17, 2023 at 07:43 PM (#6141622)
Cardinals best position players are old except the Dutchman

Walker? He can hit but has no defensive position

The pitching staff allows too much contact, and the defense is a clownshow

And I don’t think John M can fix it all in a single offseason.

I don’t think this was a case of everything just going wrong by chance. It’s a precursor of the immediate future.

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