The general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, John Mozeliak, was gracious enough to answer a few questions of mine and some other members of the United Cardinal Bloggers. Of the five questions I asked “Mo”, I received three intriguing answers in return..
Me: Kolten Wong’s seventeen errors led the team in 2015. Nonetheless, it seemed as if after committing an error he’d counter it with a dazzling defensive gem. Do you see Kolten becoming a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman down the road, or do you think he’ll even out to be a mediocre defender?
Mo: Kolten Wong is certainly capable of winning a Gold Glove. I think when you look at his overall play it’s about consistency. He has to separate defense from the plate, he has to be able to put good at-bats together, and he can’t allow an error to affect how he approaches the plate. Overall, I think he’s unbelievably talented and you keep watching him mature and I think in short time he’s going to be one of those types of players that are All-Star level and Gold Glove quality.
Mr. Mozeliak is very accurate when he notes that Kolten’s overall play relies on consistency. Since Wong means a lot to the Cardinals on both sides of the game–defense and offense–it’s crucial that he divides his fieldwork from batting and not let miscues on either side interfere with his mindset for the other.
Me: It’s no secret that Matt Carpenter has become a key component to the Cardinal offense. He started 2015 on a high note, slashing thirteen doubles in April. A lineup shake that occurred around the first of May, one that moved him from his native leadoff spot, often serves as the scapegoat when it comes to determining what started his three-month-long slump. In the months of May, June, and July combined, Carpenter batted .230 with only 23 extra-base hits to speak of. Then, following his return to the leadoff spot in late July, Matt began producing like he did in April. In the 59 games after returning to the leadoff spot, Matt hit .300 and forty of his sixty-eight hits in this span went for extra-bases. Do you think that the offensive slump that Carpenter endured in 2015 is linked to his departure from the leadoff spot, or do you believe that his hitting skid and batting order change matching up with one another is only coincidental?
Mo: I don’t think any of us know the answer on exactly what happened with Carp, but I do feel like he’s the type of hitter who could hit anywhere in the lineup, whether it’s one, two, or three. I feel like at the time when a lot of this was going on there was pressure to create offense and he was putting a lot on himself. Ultimately, he did have a tremendous offensive season and you look at what he brings to our table and it’s exactly what we need. I do think Matheny and his staff isn’t necessarily saying he has to stay in the one-hole but will be open to really trying to optimize their lineup moving forward.
I feel that the possible positive outcome of Matt Carpenter’s bat could be felt to its full extent if it occupied a spot in the middle of the batting order. Twenty-eight homers doesn’t really scream leadoff hitter, does it? I don’t think so. Being that it’s hard to pinpoint just what went with Carpenter during his slump, the only way to really make a lineup transition would be to run some experiments. Slipping Carpenter lower in the batting order for a few weeks and then observing his numbers and such may be the best and only way to see his lineup versatility. As a whole, though, 2015 was a beautiful year for Matt. Even with the three-month-long slump, he still led the Cardinals in a number of offensive categories and is likely to do just that as long as he is a Cardinal.
Me: Having a team before you that’s obviously one of the best in all of baseball must give you a sense of pride. Since you’ve worked very hard to craft the team and then perfect it as the season rolls along, you apperceive this club inside and out. Through your eyes, what’s the Cardinals’ most substantial weak point? How do you go about improving a team that won 100 games?
Mo: When you look at a club that had the success we had last year and arguably, the imbalances of this team – meaning we struggled from an offensive standpoint, but we did have timely hitting, historic level of pitching – it is somewhat of a regression to the mean on both sides. I do think from an offensive standpoint that there are reasons to believe we could be better and there’s a lot of logic to say we’re probably not going to pitch as well as we did. Trying to backfill for that between now and Opening Day is something we’ll focus on.
I will admit that it’s pretty easy to forget to remind myself that the pitching is probably not going to be as superb as it was in 2015 when I am pondering what the team will be like in 2016. With Lance Lynn already hitting the shelf for all of next season, the question marks are starting to abundantly surround the pitching staff. I feel that it’s even harder to cast an outlook on the offensive side of things. Things will clear up tremendously when we find out what’s going to happen with Jason Heyward. If Jason Heyward is signed, he’ll occupy one of the outfield positions. Just for figuring, Randal Grichuk and Matt Holliday will do the same. That would leave two guys, Matt Adams and Stephen Piscotty, up for first base. If Jason Heyward isn’t signed, Piscotty, Grichuk, and Holliday will be the last line of defense. Matt Adams would be all that’s left to play first. With Holliday likely nearing the verge of retirement, the need for a player to fulfill his position and leadership role is dire. I believe Heyward could be the guy worthy of doing so.
I hope you enjoyed this transcript! If you’re interested in seeing others, I encourage you to check out the UCB website in a week or two..
Thanks for reading!