Cards State Of The Union – Fall 2013: John Mozeliak + STL Brass Are Baseball’s Best ‘Rounders’

The Cardinals are the model NL Franchise, having gone to 8 out of the last 13 NLCS Matchups.  They also stand to benefit that the highest revenue teams in the MLB like New York, Boston, Los Angles (x2), Detroit, Texas and San Francisco do not reside in their Division.  At a just north of a $115 MIL payroll, they slightly hover over the Reds for highest team salary in the NL Central.  if the Cards continue to do well in player acquisitions, they will keep contending every year in the NL.

The Cardinals are the model NL Franchise, having gone to 8 out of the last 13 NLCS Matchups. They also stand to benefit that the highest revenue teams in the MLB like New York, Boston, Los Angles (x2), Detroit, Texas and San Francisco do not reside in their Division. Their team has been run the best in the MLB for over a decade.   At a just north of a $115 MIL payroll, they slightly hover over the Reds for highest team salary in the NL Central. if the Cards continue to display “Rounding techniques” in  player acquisitions, they will keep contending every year with the other big boys across baseball.  When you add the fact that the brass knows how to run a club like the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bays Rays do, but also have money to spend, then you can see how dangerous this organization has been since 2000.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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What is not to like about this team?

The club has appeared in 4 World Series in the last decade, 8 NLCS series since the turn of the millennium, and now with brilliant drafting and trades, the club is in outstanding position to keep it up for the next decade.

While I hated the fact they recently signed Jhonny Peralta, I understand the move because it was so smart.

This franchise addressed their two top needs this offseason, without surrendering any of their top young Pitching prospects, or even Oscar Taveras for that matter.

Did I also mention that when Carlos Beltran signs somewhere else – the club receives another pick?

Michael Wacha Tosses 8.2 IP Of No – Hit Ball 9/24/13

Albert Pujols in the winter of 2011. With how awesome he fared, some would say that this would be an even trade straight up. Michael Wacha, 22, was picked in the 2012 Conditional Draft Pick selection the Cards received for the Angels signing Albert Pujols in the winter of 2011. With how awesome he fared, some would say that this would be an even trade straight up. Wacha went 4 - 1, with a 2.64 ERA for the playoffs, however he was 4 - 0, with a 1.00 ERA heading into the World Series.

When Albert Pujols signed  in the winter of 2011m Wacha was the compensation pick in 2012. With how awesome he has  fared so far, some would say that this would be an even trade straight up. Michael Wacha, 22, was picked in the 2012 Conditional Draft Pick selection the Cards received for the Angels signing Albert Pujols in the winter of 2011. With how awesome he fared, some would say that this would be an even trade straight up. Wacha went 4 – 1, with a 2.64 ERA for the playoffs, however he was 4 – 0, with a 1.00 ERA heading into the World Series.

This has to scare other clubs, because the last time they received a compensatory pick (Albert Pujols), they ended up drafting Michael Wacha.  This would be a great trade straight up right now.

It is a franchise ingrained in building the right way. 

We have all heard about the St. Louis Cardinals way – that tracks all the way back to the Red Schoendienst Stan Musial days, (or the Gashouse Gang before them),  all the way to the present.

The last 85 years have been very kind to the Cards.

I recently did a Roster Tree on this squad, and discovered that it was quite easy to do a six degrees of separation on the team because the majority version of the guys were drafted by the organization.

You can find that article here.  It is a good read to show you how the current club was assembled. I must add the 2013 offseason worth of transactions to the piece.

Now that the majority of the legwork has been finished, John Mozeliak can continue to tweak his lineup even more.

In the grand scheme of things, I think he should still try for a #2 Starter via trade, but this is only for the next 1 – 2 years.

Almost 6 weeks ago, I mentioned the Cardinals should package Matt Adams, plus one of their best young Starting Pitchers (except for Michael Wacha) to the Rays for David Price – and Matthew Joyce.

I think Allen Craig is better off at 1B – and the team can find another OF if need be.

I am still of the mindset because the Cardinals are likely to do many more battles with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and their strong Starting Staff in the next 6 years.

Price would give the team another Lefty, and would be perfect to compliment Adam Wainwright.  I still would not pay Price past 2015, as I think the club’s other young phenom’s will be ready by then.

At 3B, you have the 2013 Hits, Doubles and Runs king of the NL in Matt Carpenter taking over.

At SS, Jhonny Peralta may lack defense a little, but he can still crush some bombs, hit north of .280 – and give them much more production than Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso put forth the last few years.

At 2B, the job will be potentially given to Kolten Wong, however don’t be surprised if the Cards do pick up another guy who can play the position.  Mark Ellis might be a perfect guy to platoon there with Wong, and act as a safety net.

With Carpenter able to play the spot too, you could work out a rotation.  Omar Infante might also be a candidate to be brought in here for Free Agency, but it all ends there for possible FA needs.

Yadier Molina is putting up a late bid for a Hall Of Fame Career.  He has significantly improved his offensive numbers over the last 4 years, while still being the quintessential backstopper in the MLB (Defense wise).  This season, the 30 Year Old 3 Slashed .319/.359/.836 - with 12 HRs and 80 RBI in just 136 Games Played.  Had he not been hurt, the guy could have won the NL MVP hands down.  Molina is also clutch in his 272 Post Season AB, he is .298/.357/.752.  The Cards have him locked up until 2018.

Yadier Molina is putting up a late bid for a Hall Of Fame Career. He has significantly improved his offensive numbers over the last 4 years, while still being the quintessential backstopper in the MLB (Defense wise). This season, the 30 Year Old 3 Slashed .319/.359/.836 – with 12 HRs and 80 RBI in just 136 Games Played. Had he not been hurt, the guy could have won the NL MVP hands down. Molina is also clutch in his 272 Post Season AB, where he is .298/.357/.752. The Cards have him locked up until 2018.

At Catcher, Yadier Molina continues to improve offensively every year, despite climbing up the age bracket a little more, and is quietly putting together a good Hall Of Fame bid when done playing.

At 1B, you have the potential to run with Allen Craig or Matt Adams here, depending on the OF situation.  Either guy is solid.

Matt Adams can probably crush you 35 – 40 HRs if given a full allotment of AB, and with Craig, he is perhaps the best new clutch hitter in the game.

In the OF, Peter Bourjos will give you exceptional defense and he can rack up some good offensive numbers if given a chance in the lineup.

Matt Holliday is always good for decent averages, strong power numbers, and great second half’s of every year.

In RF will be either Allen Craig manning the post, or extremely high touted OF prospect Oscar Taveras.

I liken John Mozeliak to the John  Turturro character in the movie ‘Rounders’.  

The man doesn’t like the limelight, but proves his formula of never taking a risk works.

Over the course of time this translates into a solid living of great success, respect in the business and always around to compete every year.

He is not flashy to go for a risky run (like Matt Damon’s character IE..Boston Red Sox, as year to year they can go off and win the Word Series), but to do it slow and steady –  and  to see others to be jealous of your situation over time.)

The Red Sox are not ashamed of flashing their talent when trying to win it all.  They will go for it all at times, and have the mantra to take down the championships every few years..

Then there is the Edward Norton character ‘The Worm’ – who will always circumvent any rule to win a championship, lie and swindle with all of his friends and family, and throw them under the bus at any moment before bailing.

The Miami Marlins ownership is a perfect reflection of this character “The Worm”.

Teddy KGB, the master poker player is the evil empire “The New York Yankees”.  Who for years dominated the scene, but now have shown their weakness to the teams like St. Louis (Turturro) and Boston (Damon).

While we are putting all of the guys in the ‘Rounders’ movie, which guy would be best describe to name for the character of the Russian Thug who beats up Edward Norton?  I don’t know – but give me your suggestion, if you have any thoughts.

I am not sure who would play the Gretchen Mol character either, but I think there is a striking resemblance with Martin Landau and Bud Selig.

Although they do both end up having blind faith as a character trait, Selig’s is more misdirected.

The Cardinals are the perfect ‘baseball rounders’.  They are the best masters of this because they have more money than the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s – who also like to do some effective ‘baseball rounding’.

The baseball definition of ’rounding’ can be described as ‘never giving away assets – while always acquiring them.’

It is picking up guys on waivers, maybe Rule 5 and have them pan out on your club.  Signing Free Agents who may have had a tough time in a different franchise, and being able to harness his strength for your club afterwards.

Also knowing when to sell high on players, or walk away from pending Free Agents that are going to blow your salary structure out of the park.

The Cards squad is so rich and deep in prospects, that you can even sustain a few season ending injuries.

By having maintained such a frugality point of view, coupled with an immaculate drafting record, the team is littered with low payroll, team controllable contracts. 

As such, you can give up some free dollars to obtain a player without compensation such as Peralta.

Matt Holliday was given the richest contract ever by the organization prior to the 2010 campaign.  It was a daring move by the squad, as it made it tougher to resign their franchise player Pujols a few years later than that.  But this has been a blessing in disguise, as the team has appeared in 2 World Series in the last 3 years, and made it to Game #7 of the NLCS in the other.  Holliday is the one offensive player they locked up.  He makes $17 MIL to Pujols - $25 MIL per annum.  The Cards did okay even between these 2 guys.

Matt Holliday was given the richest contract ever by the organization prior to the 2010 campaign. It was a daring move by the squad, as it made it tougher to resign their franchise player Pujols a few years later than that. But this has been a blessing in disguise, as the team has appeared in 2 World Series in the last 3 years, and made it to Game #7 of the NLCS in the other. Holliday is the one offensive player they locked up long term for big money. He makes $17 MIL to Pujols – $25 MIL per annum. The Cards did okay even between these 2 guys.

Prior to 2010, they were able to sign Holliday to a 7 YR/$119 MIL.  The players that were shuttled to Oakland for the guy have not appreciated in value to be flattering. 

Had they waited until the muscled player was a Free Agent, they would have had to forfeit a Draft Pick.  Instead, they pulled the trigger on the deal near the 2009 Trade Deadline, and then resigned their own player before 2010.

St. Louis may lead the NL Central in payroll currently, but that is only a recent trend.  The Cubs and Astros had both been perched on that mantle for years – until recently.

With having that amount of success in the last 13 years, players are only bound to start costing more at some point.

What separates the Cards from other teams, is knowing when to sell high.

Since the club has developed such an overabundance in talent, it also can work in their favor to only pull the guy up to the big league teams when he is ready.

In the case of Michael Wacha, you can draft a guy who had honed his craft in college for years (and is more closer to entering your big team’s Roster than drafting a younger athlete.)

Whatever goes in the board room of the Cardinals franchise, I would love to be a fly on the wall to learn their magic elixirs.

The Cardinals development team in the Minors is so good with their young players, that they can draft guys in any round, teach them their organizational way, and see this come to fruition once they are in the Major Leagues.

St. Louis can withstand long injuries to key players like no other club can in today’s modern game of baseball.

Adam Wainwright goes down for the year, a guy like Jaime Garcia or Lance Lynn step up.

Ryan Franklin bottoms out as a Closer, and Jason Motte comes to the rescue.  Motte goes down, Mujica has a lights out performance for a few months – until flame thrower Trevor Rosenthal takes over to finish the season out.

Jamie Garcia and Chris Carpenter go out for the year.  No worries, they had Shelby Miller (15 – 9, 3.06 ERA) and Joe Kelly (10 – 5, 2.69 ERA) to hold the fort down – until Wacha (4 -1, 2.78 ERA – and nearly unhittable in the postseason) came onto the scene.

The top 5 Relievers all carried an ERA under 3:  Kevin Siegrist – 0.45 ERA, Randy Choate –  2.29, Seth Maness – 2.32, Trevor Rosenthal – 2.68 and Mujica 2.73, all of them with significant time.

Oh Yeah.. you still have some guy named Wainwright, who is one of the top 2 Starting Pitchers in the NL every time he plays a full season.

Watch how the Cards do business. 

They know when to walk away from players like Albert Pujols, Kyle Lohse, Jim Edmonds and J.D. Drew, but are smart enough to have taken the conditional picks – or have maximized a great trade in return.

Even signing Peralta was a calculated maneuver, yet they never had to surrender a pick there either.

For years they took on reclamation projects like Chris Carpenter, Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan, Jake Westbrook and placed them in the capable hands of Dave Duncan to repair.

The last time the franchise was really burned in a deal was to trade for Mark Mulder from the A’s.  Even then, the club returned the favor by picking up Matt Holliday a few years later in a steal.

If you don’t overprice yourself, the club will retain  you – as they did with Holliday, Carpenter and Wainwright.

I honestly think that the remaining Free Agents the club may sign, aforementioned in this post, would be the only moves worth doing for St. Louis.

So like the movie ‘Rounders’ – John Turturro’s character, St. Louis continues building a successful business, have a great family life, and didn’t have to resort to gambling very much with their cash like some of the other characters (teams) did in the movie or on the field.

In the movie Rounders, the characters show many different ways to win at poker.  In a way, baseball franchises gamble similarly to what players have to do in in this form of gambling game.  The Cardinals seem to be holding their collective 'Cards' Closer to the Vest' than any other franchise in the MLB.

In the movie Rounders, the characters show many different ways to win at poker. In a way, baseball franchises gamble similarly to what players have to do in in this form of gambling game. The Cardinals seem to be holding their collective ‘Cards’ ‘Closer to the Vest’ than any other franchise in the MLB.

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on November 29, 2013, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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