Tag:John Mozeliak
Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: January 29, 2012 4:37 pm
 

Cardinals shopping RHP Kyle McClellan

Kyle McClellanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals are "actively shopping" right-hander Kyle McClellan, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss writes, but general manager John Mozeliak told him he expects McClellan to be with the team when pitchers and catchers report next month.

According to Strauss, the Orioles are the leaders if the Cardinals do indeed move McClellan, who is due $2.5 million next season. The Padres and Diamondbacks are other teams who have expressed interest. However, an Orioles official told MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko that he didn't expect the Cardinals to move McClellan.

The 27-year-old McClellan began 2011 as a starter, but moved back to the bullpen after the team acquired Edwin Jackson. He was not on the team's roster for the division series or World Series. Overall, McClellan was 12-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 43 games and 17 starts last season. He was 6-6 with a 4.21 ERA in his starts and 6-1 with a 4.14 ERA in 26 games. He struck out 76 batters in 141 2/3 innings.

McClellan was a starter in the minors, but didn't start a game in the majors until 2011. He had a 2.27 ERA in 68 games in 2010 with 60 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings. He's 19-22 with a 3.61 ERA in his career, picking up six saves.

THe Cardinals have a surplus of relievers, with Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas and Mitchell Boggs as right-handed set-up men for closer Jason Motte, with lefties Marc Rzepczynski and J.C. Romero.

The team could also use the money saved on McClelllan, a St. Louis native, for starter Roy Oswalt, who has expressed interest in joining the Cardinals.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:19 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 9:45 pm
 

Cards' pitching coach taking leave of absence

Dave Duncan

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence, the team announced on Thursday.

"As far as how long he'll be gone, no one knows," general manager John Mozeliak told FoxSports.com.

Duncan, 66, is leaving the team to be with his wife, Jeanine, who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in August. Duncan missed more than a month of the season to be with his wife, but returned for the postseason. Bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist served as the pitching coach during Duncan's absence. However, the team has not named an interim replacement for Duncan.

The team's release said Mozeliak and new manager Mike Matheny will meet "in the near future to determine the team's course of action to fill Duncan's position during his absence."

Duncan is considered one of the best pitching coaches in baseball. 

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:29 pm
 

Manager interviews finishing for Cubs, Cards, Sox

Sandy Alomar Jr.By C. Trent Rosecrans

The interviews, it seems, are done for the three managerial openings. The Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox are all done with their first round of interviews and it appears the hirings could come relatively soon.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals' next manager will come from one of the six candidates the team interviewed. The Cardinals interviewed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

"I'm fairly confident that it will," Mozeliak told Goold when asked if the team's next manager would come from that list.

That does not mean there will not be further questions asked of any of those six, but it doesn't appear that a surprise candidate will emerge.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wasn't quite as definitive about his team's next manager coming from the list of four interviews that they have already conducted.

"I wouldn't guarantee that it is (the entire list), but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The team interviewed Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. on Friday. It has also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The "additional candidate" could be Francona. Hoyer said Theo Epstein has already talked to Francona, and with the history between the two, a formal interview wouldn't be a necessity. There's also Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was the other finalist when Epstein hired Francona in Boston. Maddon's resume would certainly make an interview unnecessary, although the Cubs would have to work out a deal with the Rays for compensation -- something they've still been unable to accomplish with the Red Sox.

As far as Francona's successor in Boston, Alomar, Sveum and Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox. Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo interviewed on Friday and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont will interview on Saturday. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters after Louvullo's post-interview news conference that the team had no plans on bringing in additional candidates after interviewing Lamont on Saturday. He also added that the team had not been formally turned down by another other organization when seeking permission to interview candidates.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:25 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Cardinals start with Francona in manager search

FranconaBy Evan Brunell

The Cardinals begin a 10-day process to find Tony La Russa's successor as manager, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will be among those interviewed, as will former Cubs great Ryne Sandberg, who was passed up for the Cubs job last season and will not be considered this year. The Cardinals received permission from Sandberg's employer, the Phillies, to interview for the Cardinals opening. Also joining Francona in interviews is longtime St. Louis third-base coach Jose Oquendo, who would be the best internal replacement.

Sources also say GM John Mozeliak will interview St. Louis Triple-A Chris Maloney, minor-league instructor and former Cardinal catcher Mike Matheny and White Sox coach Joe McEwing. Rays manager Joe Maddon is apparently not in play, with sources saying the club has not asked permission to interview Maddon. Maddon's bench coach, Dave Martinez, also has not received an invitation, although that could change. What Mozeliak will prioritize, along with chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., as the head the search committee, will be a good working relationship with Mozeliak and a track record of player development.

The Cards are hoping to name their manager by Nov. 14's GM meetings, which is a more aggressive timetable than Boston has laid out for its own search. The Red Sox have interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, the latter interviewing on Wednesday. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wants a new manager by Thanksgiving. Cubs GM Theo Epstein fired Mike Quade on Wednesday, so he is entering his own search as well.

"They know what they're doing," outgoing manager Tony La Russa said on Wednesday, saying he would only offer his opinion if asked. "I expect they'll make a sound choice."

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 3:38 pm
 

2 p.m ET weather meeting to decide Game 6 fate



UPDATE: Game 6 has been postponed

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals have a meeting at 1 p.m. CT with Major League Baseball to determine if Game 6 of the World Series can be played Wednesday night, or whether to postpone it due to the threat of rain in St. Louis, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

"I also think it makes a lot of sense not to play if it's going to be sort of stop-and-go baseball and we're going to be pulling the tarp multiple times," Mozeliak said. "Not being a weather forecaster, it doesn't look good based on what I read. But 1 p.m. I have a meeting where they're going to hone in on what's best for the fans."

Mozeliak said MLB would like to announce a rainout early, if possible -- "not to string it out."

This postseason has already been marred by a couple of bouts of rain. Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees was suspended in the second inning and resumed the next day. Game 1 of the ALCS had two delays totaling 110 minutes and Game 2 was postponed a day.

Mozeliak also noted that if there was a rainout, it would help the Cardinals, giving ace Chris Carpenter an extra day of rest and the possibility of starting a Game 7, if it gets that far.

"I really think if we got to a Game 7, it wouldn't matter because you have all hands on deck, throwing everything out there including the kitchen sink, if it meant winning," Mozeliak said. "I wouldn't over think that too much, because everyone's available. I think it would be an exciting environment, but I'm not overly concerned who would start that game."

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:16 am
 

Cardinals' Holliday could miss entire NLDS

Matt Holliday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday will have his hand examined in St. Louis on Monday and may not be able to play in the National League division series against the Phillies, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

2011 playoffs

Holliday missed the first two games of the NLDS with a strained tendon in his right palm. After taking batting practice before Saturday's game, Holliday didn't take batting practice on Sunday. Holliday has declined taking a cortisone shot, fearing it would hurt his chances to play, but has used a cortisone cream and received acupuncture.

"I left that (left field) spot open until it was confirmed as yes or now. And quickly the answer was no," La Russa told Strauss. "So I don't know about Tuesday. I know right now I'm more concerned than I was before (Saturday's) game because he took an at-bat and he did had soreness when he swung."

The Cardinals placed Holliday on the 25-man roster for the NLDS hoping he'd be able to play, but if he's replaced now, he would not be eligible for the next round of the playoffs.

"Obviously, when we put our roster together (Saturday) morning, we were optimistic he would be further along," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the newspaper. "But I"m not prepared to say we may have to make a roster move at this point."

The Cardinals have used Lance Berkman in left field in Holliday's position, while using Allen Craig in right.

Holliday hit .296/.388/.525 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in an injury-filled 2011. Holliday needed an emergency appendectomy in the first week of the season, but missed just seven games, avoiding the disabled list. He struggled with a quad injury in May and June before finally going on the disabled list on June 1. And then in August, he had to leave a game after a moth flew into his ear. HIs latest injury came late in the season while swinging, but he had to leave last Monday's game with the Astros because he couldn't throw the ball without pain and hasn't started a game since.

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:52 am
 

Report: Cards sign Carpenter to 2-year extension

Chris CarpenterBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may or may not be a Cardinal the next two years, but Chris Carpeneter will be. St. Louis has signed right-hander Chris Carpenter to a two-year, $21-million contract extension, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The team has not finalized the deal, but will do so later this week, Strauss writes.

The team had a $15 million option for 2012, but this replaces this and saves the team roguht $3 million a year. The contract doesn't include another option and no appearance incentives.

The Cardinals are hoping to lock up key pieces before having to deal with the Pujols situation this offseason. According to the Post-Dispatch, the team has already reached out to shortstop Rafael Furcal and right-fielder Lance Berkman about extensions. General manager John Mozeliak has also said the team would pick up the team's two-year, $21 million option on Adam Wainwright.

St. Louis also has to decide on what to do with second baseman Skip Schumaker, who is arbitration-eligible after the season and it also has a $7 million option on catcher Yadier Molina.

The team's opening day payroll was just more than $109 million and will only drop if the team doesn't keep Pujols.

Starter Edwin Jackson is a free agent and unlikely to return. The team also has an option on left-hander Arthur Rhodes, one it is unlikely to exercise.

Also arbitration eligible are infielder Ryan Theriot and right-handers Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte.

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