Mozeliak on Shift from Right to Left

Pleased with what the St. Louis Cardinals were able to do before the MLB trade deadline, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak also acknowledged that not everybody may feel the same way.

“They’re probably not the most exciting moves to all the people out there watching or hearing, but for us, we did feel like we accomplished some goals,” said Mozeliak.

Describing the situation as a chance to get a “peek” at the future while competing in the present, Mozeliak stressed the internal expectations of winning or how they plan to finish the season are the same today as a month ago.

“Candidly, I feel like they’re different and they’re more positive,” he stated. “I really feel like what you’re feeling in the clubhouse and what you’re seeing is refreshing. I can imagine if you’re one of those younger players that are getting this chance, you’re excited. Now again, it boils down to wins, losses, and performance so in the end that’s how we’ll be judged.”

Around the NL Central, there were more high profile moves like the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired pitcher Chris Archer and the Chicago Cubs added reliever Brandon Knitzler.

“It’s a competitive division, but when you look at our season if we play well we’ll be okay,” said Mozeliak. “We’ll be in that. But it comes down to creating that environment, and I think right now we’re in a good spot. The feeling in the clubhouse is very positive. Let’s go see how we play.”

A question was asked how the team was better today after losing their best hitter from a year ago in Tommy Pham and their top starting pitcher in Carlos Martinez going on the disabled list?

“Certainly losing Carlos is a hit, but we don’t think it’s season ending and ultimately, when you look at our rotation, we feel like we have some depth there,” replied Mozeliak. “And to just go out and make a knee jerk reaction to appease you is not the right strategy.”

In their first move of the day, the team traded outfielder Tommy Pham to Tampa in exchange for three minor leaguers.

“I think we said we felt we were pretty right-handed,” said Mozeliak. “We were hoping to add some left-handed bats to our system and I feel we did that. In terms of really what was the strategy going into this, it really hasn’t changed from what we said two weeks ago and that was we’re going to give some of our younger players a chance. That’s why you saw the big change last week in our bullpen, and ultimately now you’re going to see the opportunity to give some of our outfielders a chance.”

In exchange for Pham, the Cardinals received outfielder Justin Williams, left-hander Genesis Cabrera, and right-handed reliever Roel Ramirez.

“Starting with Williams as the bat and the outfielder, one of the things that we were just trying to do was get someone that we’d have a left-handed option in the outfield,” said Mozeliak. “That was something we felt was important. When you look at what he’s done in the minor leagues, these are projections. He’s been a solid player. One of the things we were trying to do is not get too heavily involved in outfielders but when we were talking with Tampa that was a place we felt comfortable with.

“When you talk about the left-hander, that’s an electric arm. A lot of our pitching depth right now is on the right side so having someone that we feel can start and be on the left side made sense, and the other guy that we got in the deal just has a power arm, older pitcher, but you’re trying to take a chance and we feel good about that.”

The desire for more left-handed bats in the outfield factored into the decision in moving Memphis outfielder Oscar Mercado, which also allowed the Cardinals to add some prospects below the higher levels and at younger ages.

“When you’re looking at our depth at Triple-A, I just felt like it was getting very crowded,” said Mozeliak. “We were able to move him for two younger outfielders that when you’re looking at sort of spacing and projection fits our timeline a little better.”

While there has been some new youth brought into the organization with these moves–and the likes of Bader, O’Neill, and young arms will get a chance out of the bullpen, there is not an immediate plan for more Memphis call ups.

“This team is the team we’re comfortable with at this point,” said Mozeliak. “I think a lot of times the trade deadline allows some people just to breathe because they weren’t traded or they’re still here and you hope that they’re still happy that they’re here. I think in this particular case there are a few individuals that would say yes to that. So now, there’s still the ability to trade, it’s just a little trickier and it has to be handled appropriately with waivers. But I think for us, again, I feel like where this club is and the energy you’re seeing in that clubhouse is a positive.”

photo credit: Jeff Curry, Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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