St. Louis Cardinals: Does John Mozeliak Have an MLB GM's Balls and Strikes?

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St. Louis Cardinals: Does John Mozeliak Have an MLB GM's Balls and Strikes?
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Should St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak make sure his next move is his best move—his own relocation from the friendly confines of Busch Stadium? 

The fact that this question has even been put forth is not good, but it’s definitely floating around Cardinal Nation. Don’t worry, my dear readers and fans, your friendly former Soulard area scribe of St. Louis is ready, willing and able to spark a debate on this topic.

Since the Colby Rasmus matter and ensuing decline of the Cardinals, Mozeliak reminds me of a college debate team member who has lost confidence; he approaches speaking in public like it’s extraordinarily embarrassing—the last thing he’d like to do. 

What I want to do is go over his record with a fine pen and keyboard for you. In the wake of the team’s latest collapse in the NL Central, the key to maintaining his position with the organization seems now to be whether or not he’s able to bring Albert Pujols back.

Pujols and his people are playing around .500 ball since the Rasmus trade. While Pujols' batting average is rising, Rasmus’ main replacement in center field, Jon Jay, has watched his average dip under .300. 

The bullpen has been dipping and dabbling in losing leads virtually all season—21 blown saves and counting. Instead of getting a bona fide saver, Mozeliak dealt Rasmus for mediocre pitching at best.

According to SporstDayDFW.com, a site powered by the Dallas Morning News, All-Star closer Heath Bell, 33, was available. SportsDay’s sources were ESPN.com, FoxSports.com and CBSSports.com.

Colby Rasmus was supposed to be the source the Cardinals could build around. So what happened? Rasmus was shipped to Toronto, possibly the worst location for him in Mozeliak and Tony La Russa’s minds. 

Yes, I’m insinuating they probably wanted Rasmus in the best position to fail. That’s what venomous general managers and managers do in MLB and other professional sports.

The Blue Jays play in a sporty division featuring three of the best left-handed pitchers in the majors: CC Sabathia (Yankees), Jon Lester (Boston) and David Price (Tampa Bay). 

Rasmus had been struggling all season against lefties, but he smashed a bases-clearing double off a southpaw two nights ago against the Mariners.

Last week, Mozeliak acquired veteran left-handed short reliever Arthur Rhodes, 41. Rhodes has been a reliably tough pitcher for years, but he gave up a walk-off home run in extra innings to Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones the same night as Rasmus’ double. 

Jones’ jolt flew over the seats, out of PNC Park and into the Allegheny River. Reasoning on the banks of the Mississippi River, it seems the home run symbolized the NL Central title chances for St. Louis sinking into the river seven games behind the Brewers.

The situation put Mozeliak back in the spotlight because of the lack of a reliable bullpen. Incumbent closer Fernando Salas isn’t overpowering, but he’s tricky enough to fool hitters into padding his saves count. The Cardinals needed an overpowering closer on their roster. 

Mozeliak strikes me as overwhelming in his gutlessness, a character come to life from George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984. The GM appears to be a classic loyalist who goes about completely unquestioning Big Brother on the bench.

In St. Louis, “B-B” is Mozeliak’s supposed subordinate—the man known in the media as "TRL." Throw corporate hierarchy out of the window in this case. La Russa has been around the game almost longer than Mozeliak’s time on planet earth.

What planet is the crying shame of a general manager Mozeliak from, though? Wherever it is, they must not play hardball.

The guy seems like he’s afraid to stand up to La Russa. J.M. should have recognized that the Philadelphia Phillies are the class of the NL and let this season play out with Rasmus and La Russa not getting along.

He then should have allowed La Russa to walk out in a somewhat dignified manner by not renewing his option for 2012. A new manager should have then been brought in by Mozeliak who could better relate to the young Colby Rasmus. 

I’m asking you, Mr. Mozeliak: How about a public reprimand or at least a sly warning to TLR about all of the embarrassing complaints and tirades? 

The do-nothing, say-nothing, laissez-faire approach is so passé. The strong, silent type of general manager doesn’t usually win championships. In St. Louis, we want and expect World Series contenders and champions.

Mozeliak was an underling of the architect who built the last one, Walt Jocketty, and replaced him amid controversy the following year. Last year, Mozeliak signed a three-year extension that could keep him in Saint Louis through 2013. Yikes!

On his watch, La Russa allowed an admitted steroid user to become the batting coach. Then this year’s trade deadline moves proceeded to woefully backfire. 

The moves were fine and dandy for some people, including Bobby Valentine and Peter Gammons. But, I believe Valentine is posturing for a managerial position in St. Louis. That’s another article for another day. 

The trade deadline moves, meanwhile, could prove to be both La Russa and Mozeliak’s unraveling. Both men’s next moves should be out of the new Busch Stadium so that Cardinal Nation can regain a measure of class and respectability. 

Mozeliak doesn't have the balls or strikes to make it happen. Are you reading me, Mr. William DeWitt II? 

This has been the witty Lake Cruise row, row, rowing gently down the stream, while the Cardinals are now seemingly caught up the creek without a paddle. 

Catch me on the next edition of Reasoning About Mozeliak on the Mississippi River. But, for now my dear readers, I want to hear from you. 


Comment or contact Lake Cruise at rjspann@swbell.net.

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