So, yesterday somehow I found myself at the 2013 Cardinals Blogger event. I was invited to write for one of the UCB blogs, http://www.85percentsports.com. I've been writing a few articles on both baseball and football for them, and I invite you to check it out. One of my favorite things we do there is a roundtable discussion with the writers.
Anyway, on to talking about the event. I got to bring a guest, so I invited fellow VEB'er Tackle Box to go since I hadn't seen him for a few years and I knew he'd be super excited about it. We arrived at Busch Stadium well in advance of the earliest time we could get in to the event (11:15am) and saw that we were not the first ones there. Many people had lined up for the Beltran bobblehead giveaway already, and probably for the First Pitch Tickets. After checking out the many statues of Cardinal great from Ozzie Smith to Rogers Hornsby, etc. we went to the Cardinals Administrative entrance and waited to head up the elevator to one of the conference centers.
We were treated to soda, water, or coffee while we waited. Eventually, right around noon Bill DeWitt III and John Mozeliak were in the room! This was probably the coolest part of the day, as the other bloggers had some great questions and Mozeliak had some interesting answers. Here are some highlights:
- Farm system success, Jermaine Curtis mentioned as someone who worked really hard and got promoted
- Dewitt talked about Ball Park Village and the upcoming Cardinals Hall of Fame (which will include Cooperstown players as well as "really good" Cardinals). They are buying a lot of memorabilia as well as going to display items they already have. This is all supposed to be done by Opening Day 2014. Over a hundred events are scheduled to be at Ballpark Village.
- Success of Dynamic Pricing campaign
- Ongoing efforts to improve wifi access and cell reception in the stadium
- The general consensus is that the Dewitt family does not like the DH, and both Bill Dewitt III and John Mozeliak feel that the DH being in the NL is far from inevitable. None of the owners or the commissioner are currently talking about bringing the DH to the NL, and they seemed to indicate that it is more of a media buzz thing, rather than being something that is gaining momentum. Dewitt said "zero discussion in the owner's meetings". Mozeliak said in the event that DH would be a part of the NL, a Matt Adams type of player would be the DH. As someone who is also not a fan of the DH in the NL, it made me happy to find out that the Dewitts are not fans of it either, and that they don't see it as an inevitability as some people do.
- There was a question about Field Fx analytics, and Mozeliak said that these are not accurate enough yet to be a replacement for scouting, but that they are looked at to some extent. He also mentioned that the Pirates use them a lot, and that you might see fielding shifts by them mid-count.
- Mozeliak spoke of one of the successes of the farm system being valuing players that are not being valued by the market. Gave Descalso and Matt Adams as examples of this type of player.
- Broke down valuing offense in players as players who hit the ball "hard and often", and beyond that, that they like gap hitters.
- Compared Taveras to a mix between Albert Pujols and JD Drew, and said that the Vlad Guerrero comparison was not the best since Taveras has more plate discipline.
- Mozeliak said that he asked questions of Bing Devine for GM pointers
- Mozeliak said unfortunately there are no great options for a shortstop in this year's draft
- also commented on how Matheny takes a great interest in the Cardinals' minor league system
- used the phrase "having said that" many times
- came off as being an open-minded and intelligent guy, was pretty interesting to hear him divulge all this info but not going too in depth about anything
- commented on the greater velocity in pitchers around this time being more of an improvement in technology in measuring the speed as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand than there being a ton more high velocity pitchers in the league
- someone asked at the end if they could use Mozeliak's office to fire Wigginton, but John just said that since Wigginton is just meant to be a pinch hitter that he has value in preventing the ballclub from starting the clock on players that would end up not getting enough playing time being a PH
At this point Mozeliak left and Dewitt took over, talking a little more about Ballpark Village and the new merchandise available. Some of the items included neon hats, Cardinals golf club covers, pet gear, some cool Stan Musial commemorative t-shirts, and a number of other things I forgot to go over and look at... this because they ended up giving us all Stan Musial pins that are unavailable to the public! I put the one I got on my hat. We were also given a short speech by the Cardinals head chef for Busch Stadium, who talked about what was available to us in the Legends Club: several types of brats with sauerkraut, some vegan options, the "4 hand nachos" which included seasoned ground beef, cheese sauce, jalapenos, onions, salsa, and more; and last but not least Bill Dewitt's favorite pasta dish which included penne pasta, tomato cream sauce, prosciutto, chicken, and mushrooms that I might add was delicious and will probably be what I get next time I'm at the stadium. The chef also mentioned that his dad too hates the DH.
So after getting my Stan Musial pin we all headed over to the Legends Club and got to feast on all that good food and some of the best tasting Budweiser I've ever had. I was very impressed how they treated the bloggers and how open the Q&A with Mozeliak and Dewitt was. The game ended up being an afterthought as it was a terrible game. All the fun was in getting all the free goodies and hearing all that info. A hearty thank you to the Cardinals organization for a fantastic event!
Other things I remember that I didn't list are that Rosenthal and Kelly are still getting used to the big leagues and how to harness their pitches, how Mozeliak had a certain sense of awe when talking about Taveras and even Wong and Wacha, which I would guess are his top 3 prospects if I had to guess. He was also very high on Carlos Martinez and to expect him sooner rather than later in the big leagues.
And one last thing: the road cap controversy was referenced by Bill Dewitt III! He said that the online polling was a virtual tie, and that they probably did the poll too soon. So for now they are going with the idea that the team will wear the blue cap vs teams with a red hat when on the road. He seemed to be on the side of the red cap people though. So the issue does not seem to be a finished one and we can probably expect another poll.
I will post another article on all of this at http://www.85percentsports.com in the next few days, so check it out!