St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking GM John Mozeliak's Best and Worst Roster Moves

Derek Piper@@FeelDaPaignCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking GM John Mozeliak's Best and Worst Roster Moves

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    Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has been a popular man in St. Louis since casting the squad that won the World Series last fall.

    Overall, Mozeliak has done a good job after taking over for Walt Jocketty in October of 2007. The 43-year-old GM sports a 420-351 regular season record (as of 8/22/2012), with one NL Central title, two playoff appearances and a World Series ring.

    Mozeliak took some heat for his trade of Colby Rasmus for pitching help last summer, but there is no doubt the Cardinals would not have made it to the Fall Classic without his creativity.

    However, Mozeliak has been far from perfect, as some roster moves have left Cardinals Nation scratching their heads.

    Here are three of Mozeliak's best and worst roster moves since 2007.

Worst: Trading for Khalil Greene

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    The Cardinals have struggled to find the answer at shortstop since Edgar Renteria left town after the 2004 season.

    Mozeliak tried to fill the void by trading for San Diego Padres shortstop Khalil Greene, but it was an epic fail. The Cardinals didn't give up much, sending away two minor leaguers, but the swap was not even worth the price of the phone call.

    Greene batted .200 with six home runs in 77 games for the Cardinals in 2009—not great numbers for a player who earned $6.5 million on the season.

    Greene battled social-anxiety disorder during the 2009 season, cutting his year short. It is also the reason the 32-year-old has not played a game in the MLB since then.

Best: Trading Colby Rasmus for Pitching

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    Colby Rasmus was supposed to be the Cardinals' mainstay in center field after Jim Edmonds was traded away in 2007.

    Rasmus was once the Cardinals' No. 1 prospect, but Mozeliak became frustrated with his streaky hitting and jagged relationship with Tony LaRussa last season.

    The Redbirds were also in need of pitching after Adam Wainwright's season-ending surgery.

    So, Mozeliak pulled the trigger, sending Rasmus to Toronto in exchange for pitchers Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel, in addition to outfielder Cory Patterson.

    The traded proved to be huge for the Cardinals' postseason run.

    Jackson was a vital piece in the rotation, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in the regular season. Rzepczynski and Dotel were also key additions to what was a weak bullpen.

    The pitching acquisitions performed well in the playoffs, combining for a 4.46 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. Without them, the Cardinals would have never hoisted the World Series trophy.

Worst: Trading Chris Perez for Mark DeRosa

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    The Cardinals took a big risk in the 2009 season, trading relief pitcher Chris Perez to the Cleveland Indians for a rental of Mark DeRosa.

    As it turned out, the trade was one that Mozeliak probably would like to have back.

    DeRosa hit only .228 with 10 home runs in an injury-ridden stint with the Redbirds. After a wrist injury in early July, it was obvious DeRosa was not the same player who performed well for the Chicago Cubs in previous seasons.

    For the Indians, Perez was a steal. Assigning him to the closer's role, Perez has combined for 91 saves throughout the last three seasons. His success has led him to two consecutive All-Star appearances.

    The trade is still paying dividends for the Tribe, as Perez's 32 saves this season ranks fourth in the MLB.

    As for the Cardinals, DeRosa left for San Francisco after his contract expired at the end of the 2009 season.

Best: Adding Lance Berkman

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    Lance Berkman was everything the Cardinals could have asked for, and more, in 2011.

    After the Astros refused to bring back their former star, the Cardinals inked Berkman to a one-year deal in what was arguably the biggest acquisition of the season.

    Berkman hit .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs in a resurgent season in St. Louis. The veteran showed doubters that age was just a number on his way to an All-Star year.

    The "Big Puma" was clutch in the Cardinals' World Series run, hitting .312 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in the postseason.

    This year, Berkman has yet to live up to his $12 million contract, as injuries have kept him sidelined. Berkman is hitting .267 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 28 games in 2012.

    However, the Cardinals hope to have their slugger back by September in another sprint for the playoffs. Berkman's bat may be the difference in whether the Cardinals are on the field or on the couch in October.

    Nevertheless, a World Series ring is proof that this Mozeliak addition has already paid off.

Worst: Trading Ryan Ludwick for Jake Westbrook

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    Cardinals Nation was displeased when Mozeliak traded fan-favorite Ryan Ludwick for Jake Westbrook during the 2010 season.

    Ludwick was an All-Star selection in 2008, hitting .299 with 37 home runs and 113 RBIs.

    The trade has not been a failure, however. Westbrook has been the definition of "good but not great" for the Cardinals in two-and-a-half seasons.

    The 34-year-old right-hander has produced a 28-22 record with a 4.01 ERA since arriving in St. Louis. At the time of the swap, the Cardinals were in need of an innings eater in the starting rotation, and Westbrook has been just that.

    However, his absence from the postseason rotation last season is evidence of a less-than-stellar trade.

    Currently, both players are having quality seasons for their clubs. Westbrook has a 12-9 record with a 3.50 ERA in 24 starts in 2012.

    Ludwick, on the other hand, is impressing for the rival Cincinnati Reds, hitting .267 with 25 home runs and 69 RBIs.

    Mozeliak can't be blamed too much for this trade, though, as "need" took priority in the process.

Best: Trading Jim Edmonds for David Freese

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    Mozeliak didn't know it at the time, but he traded one Cardinals legend for another in 2007 when Edmonds was swapped for David Freese.

    It was hard to watch Edmonds leave St. Louis, as he was one of the best players in franchise history, but it turned out to be a gigantic trade for the Cardinals.

    Edmonds struggled in 2007, hitting .252 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 117 games.

    "Jimmy Ballgame" was a postseason hero in 2004, hitting a walk-off home run against the Astros in Game 6 of the NLCS. In 2011, Freese got his turn.

    Freese cemented himself into Cardinals history with a remarkable postseason last year. The Missouri native hit .397 with five home runs and 21 RBIs (a MLB postseason record).

    Redbirds fans will never forget where they were when Freese shocked the world with a walk-off home run in Game 6 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers. The Cardinals went on to capture their ring, and Freese was named the World Series MVP.

    The legend is still growing for the 29-year-old third baseman.