John Mozeliak: The Man Who Gets No Credit

To the casual baseball fan the term “Front Office” means very little. Most fans do not know, or do not care, what goes on behind the scenes to put a team together. If you mentioned the name John Mozeliak to 100 Cardinals fans, I wonder how many would know what you were talking about. My guess? Maybe half of them. It should be much, much more.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak deserves a round of applause but, unfortunately, rarely even gets acknowledged by Cardinal Nation. Mozeliak has been in the Cardinals organization since 1995 but has only spent two and a half years as the GM. That has been enough time to make an impact.

Time after time, Mo has proved that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Winning is all the guy wants to do, and I respect that more than words can express. Ever since taking over in the 2007 offseason, Mozeliak has made decisions with one thing in mind. Winning.

Not all GMs are like that. In fact, most are not like that. Some couldn’t care less how the team performs. There are General Managers out there that are focused on one thing and one thing only; saving money. A handful of GMs do their job as if they are running a business. John Mozeliak runs a baseball team.

Just look at where the team was in 2007, when Walt Jocketty was fired and Mozeliak got the promotion. The Cardinals finished the season 78-84 and seven games back in the weakest division in baseball. It was the Cardinals first losing season since 1999 and, with the way the team was heading, it would not be the last.

Then stepped in John Mozeliak. He made gutsy, yet intelligent, moves and turned the club around. Now the team is, for the second consecutive year, contending for the National League pennant.

People don’t realize the job Mo has done, and because of that, the man receives little credit for what he does. Name one time that, when it was evident that the Cardinals needed to improve somewhere, Mozeliak didn’t respond. Go ahead, give me one example.

Only months after being named General Manager in October of 2007, Mo knew the team needed pitching. What did he do? Signed Joel Pineiro to a two-year deal (which proved to be genius), acquired former All-Star Matt Clement (granted it didn’t work out, but he still made the move), and picked up Kyle Lohse.

Mozeliak’s first big trade was made on December 4th of 2008 as the Cardinals sent Mark Worrell and Luke Gregerson to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Khalil Greene. Most blame Mo for this one, and label it a total disaster. However, considering we gave up hardly anything for a former 27 HR/97 RBI shortstop, I think it was actually a pretty good trade. The point is not that the Khalil Greene-experiment didn’t pan out. The point is that Mozeliak had the guts to do it. He identified a weak point on the team, and he addressed it. That’s what makes him, in my mind, one of the best General Managers in all of baseball.

Mo has the “just win baby win” attitude, and if I have not convinced you of that yet, just take a look back at the 2009 season. The Cardinals were in need of a bat, and what did they get? Three bats. All in all, the Cardinals gave up Chris Perez, Jess Todd, Chris Duncan, Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Peterson for Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo, and Matt Holliday. Mozeliak gave up a lot, sure, but he did exactly what he needed to do; bolstered the offense. Subsequently, the Cardinals went 42-29 in the second half of the season and ran away with the Central.

He has done the same exact thing this season. Even though it is a little too early to tell how deep of an impact Jake Westbrook has made to the team, Mo realized that the team needed a starting pitcher. So he traded for a starting pitcher.

The bottom line is very simple…

John Mozeliak does what it takes to win ball games. If there is a hole in the team, he’s going to fix it. Whether he trades for somebody or takes care of it in the offseason, Mo is going to fill the hole.

As long as Mozeliak is running things, winning games will continue to be the theme. You’re in good hands, Cardinal fans.

Justin Hulsey covers the Cardinals for and his blog, Cardinals Front Office, that is also dedicated to Cardinal baseball.You may follow him on Twitter @JayHulsey by clicking here.

5 thoughts on “John Mozeliak: The Man Who Gets No Credit

  1. You should be reminded that many GMs are ‘ham-strung’ by their owners. Not true with the Cardinals. They have a great fan base that supports them and more cash than probably any other mid-major market. Plus an owner who is all about winning to keep that fan base. A good GM can build a winner from a loser, i.e., Walt Jocketty and the Reds. The 2007 edition of the Cardinals was more an aberration than indicative of the team the Cardinals are. The trade for Khalil Greene was bad by any definition. The trades last year did help the team of 2009 but did not make them a winner (3 and out in the first round of the playoffs). They are now in a position where they do not have the talent to trade for a middle infielder they so desperately need. We will see how long it takes them to get out of that mess. I’m not quite ready to declare Mo a saint over his achievements of the past couple of years but I would love an opportunity to go up against him in the ‘GM world’.

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