I’m not sure who coined the term “MoSpeak,” though I’m pretty certain it was on this website. But it’s come to mean the measured, political way GM turned President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has of talking about the club, often without revealing much at all.
I consider myself fluent in MoSpeak. The slightest shift in tone or word choice can signal a massive shift in organizational philosophy. But there was nothing “slight” in the shift in rhetoric from the Cardinals Front Office over the course of the last week.
Last Monday, Mo told Rick Hummel of the P-D that “it’s a bit premature to hit the panic button.”
Exactly one week later, after the Cardinals won just three of seven, he sounded like he had turned a corner on KMOX, saying “I certainly have been an advocate for the word patience, but at some level you’ve got to do it. And you can’t just come on a show every Sunday and come with new excuses ... So at some point, something has to change.”
But Mo’s change in tone wasn’t just with the team overall, but specifically with the coaching staff.
In Hummel’s June 18 piece, he summarized Mo’s intentions by saying that nothing would be blown up, including both the players and the coaching staff. And Mo himself said of the coaching staff “this group is working extremely hard. I don’t fault them for some of the painstaking things we’re all having to deal with... This group is doing a good job.”
One week later, on June 25, Mo said to KMOX “Where does it start, obviously with the players, but at some level you have to put some responsibility on the coaching staff and specifically the hitting coach.”
He made similarly pointed comments about the coaching staff on the Monday’s with Mo segment on Danny Mac’s new podcast, saying “that’s just not the type of baseball you want to see played. There’s always the process of winning and losing, but when you’re kicking it around and creating opportunities for the other team, it bites you.”
Now I’m sure some of you are thinking that none of this means anything - and you could certainly be right. Mo is a political actor with one hell of a poker face. But his preferred public face is the calm, steady hand on the wheel. You won’t often see him this pointed with his criticism, and especially not localized on the coaching staff the way that this is. And to see him go from “not time to press the panic button” to “something has to change” in the span of a week... that’s got to be nearly unprecedented.
If you really want to go down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole with me, (and you’ve read this far, so why not?), it was interesting that last week Fox Sports Midwest also devoted a segment to bench coach Mike Shildt... the seeming frontrunner for interim manager should the spot open up.
This front office is nothing if not conservative. That’s often been a great asset, as they’ve avoided panic moves that handcuff the organization to an almost unprecedented extent. But it’s also often frustrating, leaving many fans to call Mo & Friends complacent.
I still believe this front office is capable of leaping quickly into action, as they did in 2013 with the Allen Craig / Joe Kelly / John Lackey trade. I know some people are convinced that Mike Matheny has somehow been named Manger for Life, but I believe the ice under him is thinner than it has ever been. That’s the vibe I’m getting from the MoSpeak, anyway.