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Dan Kantrovitz the latest example of the Cardinals' brain drain

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The Cardinals' incredible success at the major and minor league levels has made members of their front office a target for poaching employees. However, the Cardinals have done very well at keeping continuity by promoting from within.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

John Mozeliak took the General Manager position for the Cardinals in 2007. Among current National League general managers, only the Giants' Brian Sabean has held his position longer than Mozeliak with Neal Huntington in Pittsburgh hired in the same offseason as Mozeliak, the Cardinals' Senior Vice President and General Manager. (Note: the original post left out Doug Melvin of the Brewers. Thanks to brewersfrostymug.net for pointing out the error). Mozeliak has continued the success of Walt Jocketty, refocusing on the minor league system, and helped keep the Cardinals in contention for the entirety of the Dewitt era of Cardinals' ownership. Over the last few years, the Cardinals have lost quite a few members of the front office, with former Director of Scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, the latest member of the Cardinals organization to pursue his career elsewhere.

The Cardinals brain drain did not begin with Kantrovitz. It was years in the making. When Mozeliak took over as General Manager, there were questions about the direction of the franchise. The Cardinals were just one year removed from a World Series Championship, and the team constructed by Walt Jocketty had been successful. Mozeliak did not walk into his job with instant credibility. After several years of building up the farm system, the Cardinals still had just one playoff berth (out of three) under Mozeliak's tenure heading into 2011. The Cardinals won the World Series, then lost their best player and a Hall of Fame manager. The offseason losses were not limited to uniformed personnel as Jeff Luhnow left to take the General Manager position with Houston Astros.

Luhnow, who had risen to Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for the Cardinals, was seen as an architect of the Cardinals' youth movement that figured to allow sustained success for the Cardinals. Luhnow was not the only person who left the Cardinals for the Astros. Sig Mejdal was the director of draft analytics and went with Luhnow. Mike Elias left the Cardinals and is currently the Astros director of amateur scouting. Oz Ocampo, formerly with the Cardinals, is the Astros International director. Houston Pitching coach Brett Strom spent six seasons with the Cardinals, including time as the minor league pitching coordinator. Dyar Miller also took a role with the Astros.

The Astros most recent hire from the Cardinals organization, former scout Charlie Gonzalez, was just the first defection of the offseason for the Cardinals. Gonzalez left to join the Astros as special assistant in October. The bigger loss for the Cardinals occurred the next month, when Dan Kantrovitz took the Assistant General Manager position with the A's, a position newly vacant after the Dodgers hired Farhan Zaidi. Kantrovitz served as the Cardinals Director of Scouting. Kantrovitz was with the organization from 2004-2008 and then again from 2011-2014 with a couple years with A's mixed in between. While the Cardinals have lost important personnel to outside organizations over the last three years, they have tended to promote from within.

When Katrovitz moved on, the Cardinals promoted Chris Correa to Director of Scouting. Correa had been Director of Player Development, a position he had held for just a single season. From the MLB story on his promotion:

Correa joined the Cardinals in 2009 working in statistical analysis. He was promoted to Manager of Baseball Development in 2012 and named Director of the department last season, a role in which he provided statistical analysis and decision support tools to all areas of baseball operations.

This is Correa's third promotion in five years. Correa is not alone. Assistant General Manager Mike Girsch began with the team in 2006 and has had multiple promotions before achieving his current position. John Vuch, the Cardinals Director of Baseball Administration, has been with the Cardinals nearly his entire adult life. Even those with experience outside the Cardinals organization, like Matt Slater and Gary LaRocque, have spent many years in the Cardinals organization and have received internal promotions.

Another big wave or two of losses like the one that occurred when Luhnow departed would certainly damage the strength of the organization, but the Cardinals have done a good job of promoting those within the organization. Competition for jobs in major league baseball is extremely fierce. Rewarding current members of the organization for their hard work is not necessary going to yield the applicant with the greatest resume, but the Cardinals apparently believe the best candidate is one who they have trained and is familiar with the organizational structure. It is hard to argue with their success.

The Cardinals have had some losses near the top of their off-field depth chart, but much like with the on-field Cardinals, the team is attempting to bring up their own prospects in an attempt to provide greater stability and sustained success. The model has worked out well on the field. The results are easy to see with four straight playoff runs. The off-field success is perhaps less obvious, but it too has been incredibly important to the Cardinals success.