John Mozeliak Rumors

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Bruce, Cueto, Mozeliak

The impatience of the industry” is a reason Neal Huntington feels teams have been focusing on big league-ready talent rather than prospects in trade talks, the Pirates GM tells Travis Sawchik and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Owners and general managers have “the expectation that you can turn an organization around in a year. Rather than (targeting) the best prospect in the system that may be in A-ball, teams are starting to look for the guy in Triple-A that might have an impact in a year or two,” Huntington said.  Here’s some more from Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the NL Central…

  • Huntington also noted that while he hopes to upgrade the Pirates at the deadline, his roster is overall “in a good spot. There is not a glaring hole where we may vastly have to overpay.”
  • In another piece from Sawchik, he looks at the many ways that the Pirates have looked to keep their players healthy this season.  These innovative and old-school training methods have clearly paid off, as the Bucs have lost fewer player days to the disabled list than all but one team (the Brewers) in the National League.
  • Jay Bruce’s name has only recently surfaced in trade rumors, though ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link) that the Reds have had the outfielder “available for awhile.”
  • Also from Olney’s tweet, the Reds “haven’t officially” begun shopping Johnny Cueto.  The free agent-to-be is expected to be one of the most sought-after pieces in this deadline period.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak indicated to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d look to add a short-term upgrade at the deadline rather than a player or players that would impact next season’s roster.  Mozeliak stressed that his club would exercise “discipline” at the deadline, pointing to a failed 2010 trade for Pedro Feliz as an example of a deal that today’s Cards wouldn’t make.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links collected more items from around the NL Central earlier today.

NL Notes: Strasburg, Mozeliak, Boras, Fernandez

Stephen Strasburg left the mound during the fourth inning of today’s Giants/Nationals game with an injury in his left side.  The Nats ace wanted to keep pitching but “given his season, so far, I don’t want to take a chance there,” manager Matt Williams told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.  Strasburg has already had one extended DL stint to recover from a strained left trapezius and he’s been dealing with neck and back soreness all year, which has undoubtedly contributed to his 5.16 ERA over 61 innings (though an ungainly .365 BABIP also hasn’t helped).  Here’s the latest from around the senior circuit…

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’s targeting starting pitching depth and a left-handed bench bat.  While the Cards’ rotation has been one of the best in the game this season, it’s also a pretty young staff with some pitchers who have had checkered injury histories, so Mozeliak said he has to “be aware of the potential hazards” and that “my job is to make sure if it doesn’t last, then how do you answer it?
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks the July 2 prospects already signed by the Cardinals (righty Alvaro Seijas and shortstop Raffy Ozuna, both 16 years old) and how the team has evolved its forays into the international market.
  • Scott Boras tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he sees no reason why the Marlins couldn’t afford to keep Jose Fernandez, even with Giancarlo Stanton already locked up on a historically large deal.  “With TV rights and the general fund contribution and everything — every club, before they sell a ticket, they’re making $120 million,” Boras said.  “There’s a lot of revenue in this game to pay a lot of players and keep players at home.”  The Marlins believes that Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna both declined to pursue extensions last winter under Boras’ advice, but the agent said that his players make those decisions.
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein cautioned that his team may not make any huge moves at the trade deadline, telling reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune) that “if you look at the history of teams that go on and play in the World Series, very rarely is it (because of a) deadline deal.  We know what we’d like to do, but we’re realistic about what we might be able to do.”  Epstein also noted that some teams who are solely in the wild card hunt may not favor making a big push just to get into a one-game playoff; while he was “just speaking generally,” Epstein’s comments could relate to the Cubs themselves, who are 8.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.

NL Notes: Marlins, Gordon, Dodgers, Cardinals

Giancarlo Stanton‘s injury is a loss for baseball as a whole, and the first domino likely to fall as a result is that the Marlins will become sellers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The team should trade free-agents-to-be Dan Haren and Mat Latos. Infielder Martin Prado is also worth watching if he can prove his shoulder is healthy by the deadline, and he might make sense for the Mets, since he can play multiple positions and provide an insurance policy at third base. Prado’s versatility could make him an attractive target for many other teams as well, Sherman suggests. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Dee Gordon has blossomed with the Marlins, but the seeds of his growth this season had already been planted before his 2014 season with the Dodgers, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes. “I was terrible for two years. No one has to provide any fire for me. The chip on my shoulder is self-inflicted,” he says. After struggling in 2012 and 2013, Gordon seemed to hit his stride last season, but this year, he’s been outright brilliant, currently leading the NL in batting average (.356) and hits (110). Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says he thinks Gordon might have been somewhat motivated by the Dodgers trading him to Miami last winter, but that doesn’t bother Mattingly. “He doesn’t seem vengeful or anything,” says Mattingly. “I hope when he plays San Francisco or Colorado or Arizona or San Diego that he’s really motivated to show us.”
  • More than four months after the FBI seized computers from the Cardinals while investigating their hacking scandal, the team is still waiting for the fallout, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. At this point, there’s no indication that owner Bill DeWitt, GM John Mozeliak, or any other top brass were involved. “I’m not beating myself up, because I feel I haven’t done anything wrong,” says Mozeliak. “I beat myself up because I feel the organization has taken a black eye and I feel bad for that. And I feel bad because the (front-office) team we’ve assembled might be broken up.” Commissioner Rob Manfred could punish the Cardinals with fines, suspensions or lost draft picks, Strauss writes, although there’s little to no chance the team would be denied postseason eligibility.


Injury Notes: Rendon, Johnson, Walden, Albers, Lucroy

Anthony Rendon‘s return to the Nationals appears to be on hold, as the infielder has suffered a strained oblique muscle during his rehab assignment, manager Matt Williams told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Rendon was on the mend from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee but had his rehab assignment shut down after the oblique issue popped up. The severity of the issue and timeline of his return are unknown at this point, per Williams, but the plan for now is for Rendon to rest more.

More injury news pertaining to the Nats and from around the league…

  • Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his foot over the weekend, Wagner wrote earlier in the week. Wagner writes that the 38-year-old Johnson is expected to be able to rejoin the club later this summer. Williams didn’t sound sure, however, as MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko tweeted yesterday. Asked whether Johnson would be able to return to the Nats this season, Williams simply replied, “I don’t know.”
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak expressed some concern over the shoulder and biceps of setup man Jordan Walden, who is currently on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. Walden is getting a second opinion of the MRIs taken on his arm, but surgery has not been ruled out as a possibility. Mozeliak said at this time, Walden is leaning toward pitching through the injury.
  • The White Sox will be without right-hander Matt Albers longer than expected, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Albers injured a finger on his right hand in the Sox’ benches-clearing brawl with the Royals earlier this season, and the digit ultimately wound up requiring surgery which will keep him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.
  • After a slew of bad news in this post, we’ll touch on some good news for the Brewers; Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the early signs on Jonathan Lucroy‘s broken toe are positive, and he currently hopes that he can return on the low end of his projected four- to six-week timeline for recovery.

Cardinals Notes: Taveras, Pujols, Aldrete, Trades

The Cardinals’ thrilling 5-4 win over the Giants last night tied the NLCS at a game apiece and also made some postseason history.  As ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes, the Cards became the first team to ever hit home runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of a playoff game.  That final homer, of course, was Kolten Wong‘s walkoff solo shot.  Here’s some more from St. Louis…

  • Oscar Taveras delivered that seventh-inning homer for the Cards last night, though a few issues have made the top prospect no longer “untouchable” in the organization’s eyes, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.  Taveras hit .239/.278/.312 over 248 PA in this rookie season and didn’t see much action down the stretch in September or in the playoffs thus far — he has only five PH at-bats during the postseason.  Perhaps of greater concern, Taveras put on 20 pounds last offseason and “his work habits have drawn attention from some veterans,” though Strauss notes that the 22-year-old “is not considered a toxic clubhouse presence.”  In my opinion, even if he’s not totally “untouchable,” St. Louis would undoubtedly want a massive return if they considered dealing Taveras and it’s a very long shot that the team would so quickly give up on such an elite prospect.
  • Strauss figures the Cardinals are likely to trade an outfielder this offseason, with Matt Holliday locked into the left field spot and Taveras, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk and prospect Stephen Piscotty all in the mix for the other two outfield spots.
  • The Cardinals’ decision to let Albert Pujols leave as a free agent “could go down as one of the wisest in baseball history,” Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  Rather than spend $250MM on Pujols as the Angels did, the Cards instead spread that money around and have reached the NLCS in all three seasons since Pujols’ departure.  “When we knew we had to look at the next chapter of this organization, it was really about understanding how we could redeploy those resources,” GM John Mozeliak said.  “You never know if you’re going to be able to sustain that high a level, but certainly to get close to that level, or back to it, was something we were able to achieve, first with the signing of Carlos Beltran and then [Jhonny] Peralta.”
  • Cardinals bench coach Mike Aldrete is “a very likely possibility” to become the Athletics‘ new bench coach, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links).  Aldrete has a very good relationship with A’s manager Bob Melvin and a move to Oakland would allow Aldrete to live closer to his home in Monterey.  The A’s have a vacancy at bench coach since Chip Hale has been hired as the Diamondbacks’ new manager.
  • It is generally considered a mistake to fix a roster problem by trading from the Major League roster, yet the Cardinals’ young depth has allowed them to twice make such moves, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The Cards dealt Colby Rasmus for bullpen help in 2011 and ended up winning the World Series, while this past July saw Allen Craig and Joe Kelly traded to the Red Sox for John Lackey.  “I understand the risk profile in doing what we did,” Mozeliak said. “But in both situations….I felt we had to do something different — I felt we had to pull from the club to improve.”

Rosenthal On Cardinals, Miller, Price, Beane

Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…

  • Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.  “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal.  “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.”  Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
  • The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles.  Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
  • Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman.  The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
  • In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter.  Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.

NL Central Links: Reds, Singh, Rolen

Here’s the latest from around the NL Central…

  • With Jay Bruce possibly needing knee surgery and facing a 3-4 week absence, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (all Twitter links) looked at the Reds‘ options for replacing the slugger on the roster.  They could recall Donald Lutz, who owns a 1.172 OPS in 82 Double-A plate appearances this season, but with Lutz currently suffering from the flu, Fay thinks the Reds could pursue a trade if Lutz doesn’t recover soon.  Fay thinks Cincinnati will try to bring back Roger Bernadina, who is currently in DFA limbo after being designated for assignment on Saturday; if Bernadina isn’t claimed by another team, the Reds can outright him to the minors and immediately recall him.
  • Rinku Singh‘s journey from teenage javelin thrower to Indian reality show winner to Pirates farmhand will be chronicled in the upcoming film Million Dollar Arm, and Singh tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (who has a cameo in the movie) that he hopes his story can help inspire children in his home country.  Singh missed last season due to injury and is sitting out the 2014 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery but had he stayed healthy, Rosenthal notes, the southpaw would probably be in Double-A by now.  Singh posted a 3.00 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 72 relief innings at high-A ball in 2012.
  • The trade of Scott Rolen to the Blue Jays in January 2008 is the one move John Mozeliak really regrets, the Cardinals GM tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (subscription required).  A rift between Rolen and then-manager Tony La Russa drove the deal rather than baseball-specific reasons, Mozeliak admits.  Troy Glaus, who St. Louis received in the deal, had a strong 2008 season but quickly declined, while Rolen delivered 11.3 fWAR between 2008-10.

Cardinals Extend John Mozeliak

USATSI_7748197The Cardinals have announced that they have extended senior vice president and general manager John Mozeliak for two years, through the 2018 season. Last February, the Cardinals had signed Mozeliak to a three-year extension covering the 2014 through 2016 seasons.

Since Mozeliak's hiring following the 2007 season, the Cardinals have won one World Series (2011), appeared in another (2013), and made the playoffs four times, including in the last three seasons. They've had at least 86 wins in every season since hiring Mozeliak. Their farm system and player development program are highly regarded, and they've bolstered their current team with a number of products of Mozeliak's drafts — the Cardinals' 2009 draft, which included Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Adams, is one of the best in recent history.

Other teams have attempted to emulate the Cardinals' success both at the big-league level and in player development. Most notably, after the 2011 season, the Astros hired Cardinals vice president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow to be their GM, citing the farm system he and the Cardinals had built as a key reason why.

Mozeliak's key moves this offseason included signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year contract, extending Carpenter for six years, and trading David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Notes: Ibanez, O’Flaherty, Cardinals, Halladay

Earlier today, MLBTR posted a batch of notes from the National League West. Now, let's take a look at the other teams playing in the Senior Circuit:

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Cardinals, Braves, Starting Pitching Market

With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.

  • The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells — all of whom are 34 or older — the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
  • The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
  • The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
  • The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
  • Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.