January 18, 2022

Stumbling Out of the Gate

March 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Well, that wasn’t the way Cardinal fans wanted to see things get started.

OK, let’s put in the usual disclaimers.  It was a spring training game.  Most of the regulars weren’t in there, and you can’t take a lot away from one game, especially the first of the year.  So I’m not drawing any conclusions from this game, just to make that perfectly clear.
About the only thing you might be able to take out of that contest is that Charlie Zink isn’t going to be going north with the team, but we knew that already.  Francisco Samuel didn’t look all that good either, though I believe command’s been an issue with him in the past.  Nice to see Adam Ottovino have a decent game, though his command apparently wasn’t all there either.
Out of those that actually are going to be on the 2010 Cardinals, Ryan Ludwick gave some positive signs, with a double and a home run.  It took a while last year for him to get going, so perhaps working with Mark McGwire (who noticed a mechanical issue early in camp) has had some results already.
It was surprising to see the defense be so shaky.  Again, there were a lot of people in that game that won’t even sniff St. Louis and conditions in Florida are notoriously tough at times, but you still hate to see Colby Rasmus lose the first ball hit to him in the sun.
On the battle front, Joe Mather chipped in two hits, which has to help his standing somewhat.  He was charged with an error, though it doesn’t sound like it was entirely his fault (couldn’t catch a throw by Rasmus, which may have been him, Rasmus, or the wind).  It’s early, but I think Tony LaRussa has Mather mentally penciled in for the bench, with the possibility of Mather playing his way out of it.  So far, that’s not happening.
Today the Cards face the Mets again, this time at home, and start Brad Penny.  Many of us here in Cardinal Nation have been very interested to see Penny in a competitive game.  The big bats will be in the lineup for the Cardinals today, as Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina make their debuts.  With more of a regular look to the lineup, hopefully it will be a more professional game, at least until the subs come in.
Before I wrap this up, I wanted to comment on the GM rankings put out by Sports Illustrated. John Mozeliak was ranked 18th.  To which I say, really?
It seems to me that the rankings were a bit of a hodgepodge.  You’ve got Andrew Friedman of the Rays on top.  I can go with that.  Built up a young team, developed them into a contender.  Sure.
Then you’ve got Theo Epstein of the BoSox.  Again, solid pick.  Even though he’s got a budget that can absorb a lot of things (and again, thanks for Julio Lugo and John Smoltz, guys!), they have done a good job of making the smart moves.
Third you have Brian Cashman.  Wow, the top three GMs just happen to be in the AL East.  Hmm, shocking.  Cashman is a fine GM, don’t get me wrong, but he also presides over a payroll that is roughly $200 million.  How much of a true test is that?
Then you have the Marlins’ GM, which makes some sense, I guess, in that they’ve also made a couple of trades, built a farm system, and have been competitive at least.
So, even if you disagree, it’s about results with the top four.  Results would seem to be the best way to go about measuring something like this, so that’s fine.  I think I’d have done a little differently, but sure, that’s our measuring stick.
So at number five we have….Jack Zduriencik?  The Seattle GM was the darling of the offseason, it’s true, but have we seen any results out of that yet?  It seems like he’s getting ranked up here solely by reputation of his “baseball mind” instead of what he’s been able to produce.  His offseason looked good, but this isn’t a ranking of offseasons.
Jon Daniels at 8?  Yeah, Texas has some young guys coming up, but do you remember Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young for Adam Eaton?  That trade alone has to knock you down into the latter half.  There’s not necessarily been a lot of return from that Mark Teixeira trade either.
Then they put our old friend Walt Jocketty 14th, while saying it’s tough to know how good of a GM he was since Albert Pujols, TLR and Dave Duncan were on the squad.  Seriously?  You are going there? Because it’s darn tough to see how good Brian Cashman is when he’s signed huge free agents and been able to put an All-Star at every position.
All that to say that I believe Mozeliak is woefully underrated on this list.  In less than three years on the job, he’s moved a third baseman everyone knew he had to trade and got back quality in return, moved an outfielder and made a smart decision on which minor leaguer to get back, pulled the trade for the most coveted bat on the market and then played hardball to get him signed, gotten freebies from overstuffed payrolls (again, thanks Boston!) that have turned out extremely well.
There’s not much that Mo’s done in his tenure that has blown up in his face, which is more than a lot of guys ahead of him on that list can say.  Honestly, Mo has to be in the top 10, I think, and possibly knocking on the door of the top five.  If he can keep Albert in St. Louis, though, we’ll all rank him #1 in our hearts!

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