Three weeks ago, John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny conducted their year-end press conference. Mozeliak discussed offering arbitration to all eligible players, the health of Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, and the dificulty of finding rotation spots for Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales. Last night, Mozeliak went on KMOX to discuss these topics and had a bit more to say about potential Cardinals free agents like Pat Neshek and Jason Motte as well as the signing of Dean Anna. (Listen here for full audio of the interview.)
Some of the answers have changed. Adam Wainwright 's surgery has affected his situation. Some of the answers have stayed the same, like with Martinez and Gonzales' rotation chances. However, some answers come with a few more questions, like Daniel Descalso's future, or lack thereof, with the Cardinals.
First, the rotation. At the end of the year press conference, Mozeliak had this to say about the chances of Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales making the rotation in April. (Quote from John Mozeliak in Derrick Goold article)
Right now, you look at the starters we have in place and you see a Marco and how he's progressed, how he's impressed us all. You can see there is a spot for Carlos in that bullpen that looks pretty nice when it fits right. We'll have him continue to prepare (to start), but there are only so many innings that we have in spring for starters. He's always been an option, but we do like him in the back end of the bullpen.
Last night, Mozeliak confirmed that Martinez and Gonzales would likely begin Spring Training in the bullpen.
Mozeliak: It's going to be tough for those guys (Martinez & Gonzales) to break into the starting rotation. You can never have enough depth.— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
Mozeliak indicated the starting five is currently Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey, Lynn, and Miller. This is not a surprise at this point. All five are established major league starters, and it would take an injury or unexpected trade to displace one of those players in the rotation. An injury has to be concern, especially with Wainwright, who recently had minor surgery, and Wacha, who missed a good chunk of the regular season with an unusual arm condition. Mozeliak felt good about both pitchers heading into spring.
Mozeliak: Everything we have heard from Wainwright is business as usual. #STLCards— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
Mozeliak: Wacha is going to have a great off season. He's in a great spot, his end of the year MRI came back clean. #STLCards— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
Absent from the discussion was the potential return of Jaime Garcia. The absence from the discussion is not notable, but is another indication that the Cardinals are not making offseason plans based on a return to effectiveness by Garcia in the final year of his contract, nor should they. As Mozeliak noted, reinforced by this past season, a team cannot have too much pitching depth. It is possible, perhaps even likely that Martinez and Gonzales will see time in the rotation at some point in 2015.
Given the starter depth is likely to be in the bullpen, the Cardinals could need extra arms out in the bullpen should late-inning pitchers be required to fill rotation spots. In his interview with KMOX, John Mozeliak first discussed Cardinals free agents Pat Neshek. Mozeliak indicated Neshek was testing the market, but mentioned that with Rosenthal, Martinez, and Maness as the three main righties out of the pen, the Cardinals might not be able to provide Neshek the type of opportunity he can receive on the open market. He also said that Motte was unlikely to return.
Mozeliak did indicate the Cardinals are looking to add to the bullpen. Prior to the interview, Derrick Goold reported that the Cardinals had met with the representatives for lefty Andrew Miller. Miller, a known target for the Cardinals, spent time with Boston last season before being traded to the Orioles. He has been fantastic out of the bullpen the last three seasons after failing as a starter. In 62 1/3 innings pitched last season, Miller struck 103 hitters against just 17 walks. As a result, the price is expected to be high. Miller is reportedly "seeking at least a four-year deal and isn't listening to any other offers unless the average annual value is 'astounding'."
In his intreview, John Mozeliak discussed recent signing Dean Anna:
Mozeliak: Dean Anna gives us some depth for our system. Like his offensive projection. He was a nice type of player to add now. #STLCards— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
Mozeliak mentioned that the market right now is strong, even for potential bench players like Anna. The competitive landscape forces teams to move quickly. Where Anna's signing leaves Daniel Descalso is questionable. A few weeks ago, Mozeliak announced his intention to offer contracts to all arbitration eligible players, a list that included Daniel Descalso. Mozeliak did not exactly retract that remark, mentioning being blocked by Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong as well as a potential trade, but it appears Descalso's time as a Cardinal is coming to an end.
Mozeliak: I would imagine that Descalso will want to move on. He's going to want at-bats and it will be tough for him here. #STLCards— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
John Mozeliak has continually refused to close doors until he is certain of a particular eventuality. Mozeliak would not have mentioned Descalso wanting playing time he will not get with St. Louis if he was not sure that his time in St. Louis was over, just like he did previously with Randy Choate, and like he mentioned last night with Neshek and Motte. He also indicated A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Ellis would not be coming back.
Mozeliak used his time at the GM meetings in Arizona to set the stage for further moves.
Mozeliak: Work we are doing now is laying groundwork for future decision. We could see some things happening as early as Thanksgiving— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) November 13, 2014
Exactly what groundwork is being done is not clear. Derrick Goold has a very good piece in the Post-Dispatch this morning (I recommend reading the whole piece linked here). Goold wrote the Cardinals do have room in the payroll if needed and that Jason Heyward, a free agent after 2015, could be a decent fit.
Sometimes interviews reveal precious little interesting information, but Mozeliak revealed a few insights into the Cardinals moves going forward. The Cardinals continue their search for help in the bullpen and right field and Daniel Descalso is not likely coming back. The next month should prove very interesting for the Cardinals as they move toward 2015.