St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak joined Chris Hrabe and Mike Claiborne on the first hour of Wednesday night’s Countdown to Opening Day show.
Below is a transcript from parts of their conversation, and you will be able to listen to the full chat here:
On the intensity of Cardinals fans waiting for offseason moves.
“You can’t run from it, and I think that’s a compliment to the Cardinals, to the city and to our fanbase because they really are engaged, they know what’s going on and for people who don’t experience it, it’s hard to articulate, but for people who see it like we do everyday, you just always have to remind yourself, don’t take it for granted.”
Should fans believe the rumors and reports on Twitter?
“Some agents you deal with there is a little bit more chatter, sometimes you deal with a club and within 15 minutes what you just talked about is already on Twitter. So for us I feel like it’s just managing our own game if you will and trying to keep as much as we can under wraps as best we can. But from a strategic standpoint, sometimes having some things out there isn’t the end of the world.”
Giants GM Bobby Evans talked to media about their meeting with Giancarlo Stanton, will you do the same?
“Surprised is probably not the right word, but for me I can only worry about ourselves. I think a lot is going to be said or written about over the next two weeks and hopefully the Cardinals are part of some things that are positive.”
What was it that you liked about Miles Mikolas?
“He is someone who can fit right into a rotation. We think he can be an impactful starter, I’ve read something where some people see him as a fifth, we definitely see him with higher expectations than that… He’s always had arm strength, now he’s been able to couple that with command.”
With the influx of outfielders, and adding another one by trading Aledmys Diaz, what’s the plan?
“When you envision the next couple of weeks, it’s how do we take that depth and put it towards finding a way to help the club and so far we haven’t gained enough traction to make anything like that happen, but to our earlier point of pace and timing, I still feel like when everybody gets down to Orlando (at the Winter Meetings) you’re going to see a lot more activity.”
Last year the mission was to be “more athletic,” what’s the biggest need this offseason?
“Clearly one-run games were important and we need to address that or be more efficient that way. And I do think from a defensive standpoint, we started to play towards the end, but when you look back and April and early parts of May there were some frustrations there… I will Mike Matheny and his staff are focused on those, the last couple of days we’ve had meeting here in St. Louis with the new major league staff.”
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How do you now recruit players, now that nearly every team has more money to spend?
“We’re lucky, we still play in front of over three million fans. The cost of living, traffic, travel, spring training facilities, locations, all these things are variables. I still think St. Louis is a very attractive place to be, I still think it’s a very desirable place to play and when we sit down with that agent or that players, that’s what we are selling… We had a playbook that we could use 15 to 20 years ago that’s changing and why is that changing? People got smarter, people got more money. So we need to reflect on that.”
What does Jose Oquendo’s return to the Cardinals mean?
“His presence and what he means to the club, he bring a lot of value and not only is he a good coach, good communicator, hard worker but I think he is specifically driven on what he wants to see accomplished and who he works with and why. And I think when you have that kind of purpose it really increases how you think about your strategy to be successful. So he’s been missed and now we get him back.”
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It was a big surprise that Willie McGee wanted to come to the Major League club, how did it get done?
“When Mike Matheny told me this was a possibility I think I called (McGee) within minutes and I think within the hour he was a Cardinal. I mean like full-time major league coach. And when you really think about what he has seen and really been through as a player I just think he is going to make a tremendous asset to our coaching staff… He’s someone that is going to be admired by our players and really help move the needle on some things we’ve been frustrated with. I.e. base running and outfield defense.”
Another surprise was that pitching coach Mike Maddux was available, how will the young pitchers benefit from him?
“I think we needed to bring in someone that had the experience, that understands where we are trying to go, that wants to win, that wants to be apart of winning who wants to win and someone that could partner with Mike Matheny and really click.”
What’s left to get done before Spring Training?
“When I think about Spring Training, I’m not quite there yet because I still think there’s some work to do before we get there and I’m still looking forward to that challenge. But I do feel there is going to be a lot of positives for our organization and I think that my biggest message here is that, look, we’re not satisfied with where we are and if you look at where this organization is and you look at it with sort of a prospect-depth scenario you realize there is a lot to build on there.”
The Winter Meetings begin next week, what should we expect to happen?
“The next few days is ultimately coming down to working on roster, I do have a rules committee meeting on that Wednesday that is scheduled for three hours. But I’m hoping by the time I enter that, that we have a lot accomplished.”