Cardinals GM John Mozeliak spoke about several notable topics impacting the team in an interview with 101sports.com. You can find audio of the full chat at the link, but here are some of the highlights:
Generally, Mozeliak said that he is “still sort of reflecting on our past year,” which just ended a hair shy of qualifying for a sixth-straight postseason. That means that he doesn’t quite yet have a clear picture of how the club will tackle the winter to come. “I’m still sort of reflecting on our past year and I haven’t necessarily set out our offseason strategy,” says Mozeliak.
That being said, the veteran executive obviously has a good idea of where the needs will be. The rotation, in particular, suffered a significant fall-off in 2016. Mozeliak suggests that he sees room for more from veterans Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake, though he notes that’s hardly a sure thing. Michael Wacha remains a bit of a wild card, too, while the club sees reason for optimism in Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes. With Lance Lynn returning to join a list of possibilities that also includes Luke Weaver, Marco Gonzales (if he makes it back), Tim Cooney and others, Mozeliak says he hopes to “have the depth we thought we were going to have a year ago,” though he notes “that just means maybe something else is going to go wrong.”
Notably absent from that list of hurlers? Lefty Jaime Garcia. The club is reportedly still weighing whether to pick up his option, though Mozeliak’s comments seemed to throw some doubt on the idea that he’d be with the organization in 2017.
“What we’ll do is spend the next two to three weeks sorting through our roster and getting a feel for what we think makes the most sense for us,” Mozeliak said when asked about Garcia. “I just went through our rotation and I didn’t mention Jaime because I think, given how he finished, it’s going to be tough for him to fit in there. But I also would say last year when we were sitting here talking, I thought we were going to have Lance Lynn and then two weeks later he ends up having Tommy John. So you just never know.”
Of course, even if Garcia doesn’t end up with the Redbirds, he could have his option exercised and then be traded. Mozeliak also says he won’t hesitate to trade young players to drive improvement, though he suggests that he won’t overreact after just missing the playoffs.
“You can’t always react to just today’s needs,” says Mozeliak. “When you’re looking to build long term success you damn well better be keeping some assets in your system. I think, historically, we’ve proven right on that with that strategy. We’re not going to deviate.”
Otherwise, the organization has already stated an intention to improve defensively, and Mozeliak adds that he’d like to see the team become “a little bit more aggressive on the basepaths.” For the former, he notes that getting Kolten Wong more time at second base and “trying to find a consistent position for Matt Carpenter” would help with the infield, while the team has to figure out a center field solution.
Reading between the lines a bit, since Jedd Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz seem all but certain to command significant playing time, it’s fair to wonder where this assessment leaves Jhonny Peralta. He could conceivably share time at first or end up on the trade block. It also certainly seems as if the center field spot could be filled from the outside, with Randal Grichuk sliding over to a corner role. Perhaps there’s also a way the club can address the baserunning issue through a new up-the-middle performer; Mozeliak notes that he’s interested in “trying to get a little smaller on the basepaths, trying to add a little speed to this team,” and this may be the spot to target to find such a skillset.
Certainly, speed and defense are not the calling cards of slugger Brandon Moss, though defensive metrics rated him surprisingly well in the outfield in limited time there this season. Mozeliak says that the overall results from Moss were good, and praised his work in the clubhouse, but added that it was tough to deal with his lengthy slumps. Ultimately, there’s interest in bringing him back, says Mozelik, “but it’s going to be at what price?”