clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What did Mozeliak and Matheny reveal about the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason and 2016 plans?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak held a press conference at Busch Stadium on Thursday. Manager Mike Matheny was also present. The two members of Cardinals management discussed 2015. They also looked ahead to 2016. And Twitter was on it.

Yadier Molina's torn left thumb ligament will require offseason surgery.

Molina suffered a partial tear of a ligament in his left thumb with two weeks to go in the pennant race. The All-Star sat out the remainder of the regular season. The Cardinals included Molina on the NLDS roster as one of just two catchers. In Game 3, Molina took an aggressive cut and doubled over in pain. After the training staff came out to tend to Molina, he stayed in the game to finish the at-bat and played in the field. But Matheny pulled Molina for a pinch-hitter when his spot came back around. After the game, Molina speculated that he worsened his injury. He was was unable to swing a bat, so Matheny benched him for Game 4. How bad is Molina's left thumb injury? Pretty bad.

That makes two thumb surgeries in two years for Molina. In 2014, he injured his right thumb and missed a good chunk of time due to surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation. Perhaps due in part to that procedure, Molina did not hit for a lot of power at the plate: .270/.310/.350 (.287 wOBA, 80 wRC+). One wonders how the aging backstop will fare at the bat in 2016, after this latest injury and surgery. The Cardinals will pay Molina a guaranteed salary of $14 million in each of 2016 and 2017 with a mutual option for 2018 worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout.

The Cardinals hope to sign Jason Heyward for 2016 and beyond.

Water is wet, the Gateway Arch is silver, Heyward is wonderful, and the Cardinals want to sign him. Duh.

Mozeliak feels good about the Cardinals' starting pitching, but would not rule out signing John Lackey or exercising Jaime Garcia's option.

Mozeliak discussed the club's starting pitching for 2016. The GM thinks the Cards are in good shape:

Alex Reyes? Yes, Alex Reyes.

Whoa, boy.

On the one hand, it would be accurate to say that the Cardinals are well-positioned in terms of starting pitching under team control for 2016. On the other, this last season reinforced the truism that a team can never have enough starting pitching. That's why Mozeliak would not foreclose signing Lackey. It's also why Garcia might very well be back in the birds on the bat next season.

Michael Wacha was fatigued, but not pitching hurt.

Of course, the GM openly talking about how fatigued Wacha is and how rest will do him will well makes Matheny's handling of Wacha in NLDS Game 3 all the more confounding. But I digress. It's at once good to learn that Wacha was not pitching hurt during the second half, but also kind of concerning. What type of pitcher can post-shoulder-injury Wacha realistically turn into? The ceiling seems a good deal lower than in May 2014. So does the floor.

Lance Lynn has work to do this offseason.

Matheny and the coaching staff have given Lynn developmental homework:

It's interesting that the major-league staff has not gotten Lynn to satisfactorily develop his secondary pitches during the four prior seasons and three prior offseasons he has been a member of the rotation.

First base will be a compeitition.

This has been evident for two months. When the Cardinals traded Rob Kaminsky, one of the organization's top prospects, for Brandon Moss, a lefthanded power-hitter who can man first base or left field and is arbitration-eligible this offseason, they sent a signal that first base would not necessarily be Matt Adams's position everyday in 2016. Add Stephen Piscotty to the mix and the first-base at-bats seem likely to be divided three ways in 2016. Mozeliak declared first base to be an open competition:

One wonders what the prize will be for the "winner" of this competition. 50% of the plate appearances?

For those of you still hankering for Matt Holliday to shift to first base, don't get your hopes up:

I don't even know what Matheny's means by "slippery slope." He probably doesn't either. I'm just going to pretend he means, "Holliday was AWFUL at third base when he was a young kid in the minors. A-W-F-U-L. Stone handed. Why would we play him at first and expect him to be able to scoop throws in the dirt?"

Matheny thinks it's possible that players fatigued from overuse.

One of the defining characteristics of the Tony La Russa era was that he took the long view when it came to playing time. La Russa liked to use his bench players and space out his reliever usage. He viewed the season as a marathon, not a sprint. La Russa wanted to keep his bench players sharp and pace his stars so they'd be fresh down the home stretch and in the postseason.

Matheny has taken a different approach as manager, often leaning hard on the players he trusts. This year, Matheny's approach appeared to wear down Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong, who had poor second halves. Kevin Siegrist also seemed to fade down the stretch.

To be fair, some of this was due to necessity (the bullpen was beset by injuries) and a lack of options (Pete Kozma?). It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals approach the middle infield this offseason. Mozeliak indicated they may look outside the organization:

It'll be interesting to see what type of player Mozeliak seeks out. Is there a better shortstop/second base option on the free-agent market this winter than Greg Garcia, the internal candidate? Either way, it appears Kozma's days in the St. Louis organization are numbered.

Mozeliak will reach out to potential free agents next week.

Correction: The original version of this post identified Matheny as having had two thumb surgeries within the last two years. That is of course wrong. It is Molina who has undergone the knife. The post has been corrected and updated. I also added the money the club owed Molina since the post I published apparently didn't save it after I added it. Needless to say, it's been that kind of week.