Lilliquist Won’t Return, Cardinals Leadership Talks Offseason Moves

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, general manager Mike Girsch and manager Mike Matheny met with media to put a wrap on the 2017 season. Here is a recap of topics they hit on:

Lilliquist won’t return next season:

Mozeliak says he expects to have a new pitching coach announced in the “next couple weeks.”

“We felt this was an opportunity to improve,” Mozeliak says. “Cleary when you look back at the success of our pitching it’s been good, but I feel like the process was not ideal for future growth.”

The likely candidate from inside the organization would be Memphis pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd, who has worked with pitching prospects like Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty.

Former Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter’s name was brought up, but Mozeliak says the more likely role for him in the near future is in a part time.

“He’s not ready to commit full-time to a position, so it would be one of those hybrid-type jobs that we’ve cleverly come up with in the past,” Mozeliak says.

Who is likely to stay, who is likely to be moved this offseason?:

Mozeliak often repeated the phrase “a lot can happen,” talking about what next year’s roster might look like. Although he gave few specifics, he did make a few strong statements about what the roster needs are:

“Clearly what we had this year didn’t get us to the finish line that we wanted, and so the goal of our group and our team is to make changes that we feel can better our chances.”

He was asked if catcher and second base are the only two positions that might be “spoken for” going into 2018?

“I would say catcher… For this group up here, we’re active, we’re motivated and we hope to see change.”

The importance of adding a true No. 3/4 hitter:

The Cardinals leadership didn’t mention a specific position that would the No. 1 need this offseason, like center field was after the 2016 season. But Mozeliak did say he is looking for a stand-out threat.

Will St. Louis pursue Lance Lynn?:

Lynn will demand a hefty price this offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Mozeliak was asked if Lynn does not return, what kind of hole does that put the starting rotation in?

“There’s a lot of confidence, but there are some concerns about how young it could be,” Mozeliak says. “Not getting into to what it might look like or who it might look like, we’re not closing any doors today.”

Who is the closer in 2018?

Trevor Rosenthal will likely miss at least half of the 2018 season with Tommy John surgery, Seung Hwan Oh pitched his way out of his closer role in 2017 and Juan Nicasio is a unrestricted free agent this offseason. So do the Cardinals promote from within, or jump into an expensive closers market.

St. Louis hasn’t ventured outside its own roster for a closer since signing Jason Isringhausen in December 2001. Girsch was asked if the team’s strategy will change this offseason.

“Ideally, you don’t pay retail for closers and we’ve been lucky for the last long period of not having to dip into that end of the market,” Girsch says. “We don’t have an obvious next heir apparent at the moment so we’ll have to evaluate what our options are.”

Mozeliak says his focus to improve the bullpen will not be so much on finding clear-cut seventh, eighth and ninth inning guys, but building bullpen depth.

“I think everybody in the bullpen wants to understand what their role is and what’s expected of them,” Mozeliak says. “Just as a manager has certain expectations on performance, but when that doesn’t work, where do you go? And so when I think about depth, and when I use that phrase depth, it’s not about just brining up a 13th man or 12th man, it’s really about someone that we can bet on, that we can count.”

How Mike Matheny improves on this season:

Matheny, who often calls himself his own toughest critic was asked about what he feels he needs to improve on this offseason.

“All across the board I want to be better. You mention communicating, I think that changes as you bring in new people and personnel. Obviously strategically, and using some of the resources we have, being more forward thinking, always trying to figure out ways that we can take things to the next level,” Matheny says.

This story will be updated with direct quotes from the press conference and more information

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