I got a glimpse into the inner workings of the Cardinals organization and I was impressed by what I saw.
The Cardinals hosted their invitation-only 2012 Blogger Event on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. General manager John Mozeliak and team president Bill DeWitt III, son of the owner, met with select members of United Cardinal Bloggers in the Busch Stadium Conference Center, an elegant area ringed by glass-enclosed conference rooms that overlook the statues of Cardinals legends at the ballpark’s front entrance on Clark Avenue.
Mozeliak and DeWitt appeared relaxed and approachable, seated before the bloggers about an hour before the Cardinals began their game against the Brewers. They treated the bloggers with respect and answered them with candor.
Both of these progressive baseball executives opened their remarks by showing they understand how social media and credible bloggers benefit the Cardinals.
Mozeliak said the bloggers produce an “amazing amount of insight and content” about the franchise and complimented the bloggers for “the new ideas and nuances you bring to the table.”
Mozeliak reads the blogs. He said Cardinals bloggers generate “almost too much” information because there isn’t enough time in a day to read it all.
“You truly have a passion for a topic we hold close to our hearts,” Mozeliak said.
DeWitt said the Cardinals’ front office is seeking to become “an outreach organization at the social media level” and soon would develop ways to be more proactive in sending news and information direct to bloggers and through social media. He indicated more information from the front office may be geared for retweeting on Twitter rather than first being sent directly for mainstream media use.
Mozeliak and DeWitt also answered questions from the bloggers. The questions were smart and thoughtful and so were the answers.
Among the highlights:
— Mozeliak admitted it “has been a frustrating year from a baseball standpoint” for the Cardinals. He said the Cardinals knew there was a risk in counting on aging players such as pitcher Chris Carpenter, first baseman Lance Berkman and shortstop Rafael Furcal and that the breakdowns by those players because of injuries have been “an Achilles heel.”
With Berkman, for example, Mozeliak said, “Last year we rolled the dice and won the lottery. This year we lost all our money. That’s the cost of this game.”
— Mozeliak sees a bright future for the Cardinals because of a strong farm system that is stocked with talent. “We have a lot of depth. It is the strength of our organization,” he said. While some suggest the Cardinals should use the depth to make trades, Mozeliak sees it differently. “I look at those chips as assets (to be kept),” he said. That matches with an organizational philosophy to “focus on the long view” rather than the short view.
— DeWitt said the Cardinals, unlike the Astros, likely would have rejected $50 million to $60 million to move to the American League in 2013, partly because “I hate the designated hitter rule. My dad does, too.”
— Asked to assess the performance of first-year manager Mike Matheny, Mozeliak replied, “He has done an amazing job.” Mozeliak explained that Matheny’s “leadership is superb” and that the rookie manager “commands the respect of the players.” He indicated Matheny will be around for a while, calling the investment in Matheny “a long-term decision.”
— Mozeliak indicated the Cardinals work to prepare their minor leaguers for success because “St. Louis demands winning.” He cited outfielder Jon Jay and first baseman Allen Craig as examples of players whose success in the minors prepared them to handle well the pressures of performing for the Cardinals.
— The Cardinals are experiencing “challenges internally” about which avenues to take in investing in international player development and the franchise “doesn’t have a concrete path going forward.”
— Regarding Dave Duncan, the pitching coach under former manager Tony La Russa who resigned to tend to his ailing wife, Mozeliak said, “Dave is where he needs to be. Tony is where he wants to be.”