I know that's asking for it, but I really think there are some interesting conversations to be had if we try to dissect the approach of Cardinals management, and why their approach is so different from what the majority of the fanbase wants.
At one time Mozeliak was considered a shrewd GM who was able to keep the Cardinals as contenders and rapidly rebuild the farm system at the same time. Then he was able to keep the ship afloat and keep success going far longer than most teams.
Then the last 3-4 years happened. The team is continually treading water in slightly-above-mediocre-but-not-quite-playoff-level quality. The team tends to give away players for head-scratchingly low value, then turn around and over-pay for the wrong players. They've been criticized for not being aggressive, and then panned when they are aggressive (Heyward, Holland, Miller, even Goldschmit to an extend).
What do you think causes the disconnect?
A couple of things i've considered:
- The team has a different player evaluation model than most teams and fans, leading them to but/sell at different levels than expected.
- The team over-values their farm system.
- Girsch and co has a lot more influence than previously recognized, and Moz is taking more of a back seat leading to a different approach.
- Mo was never that good, he just rode the coat tails of Jeff Luhnow and others.
- A large portion of GM success is luck, and the Cardinals luck has run out relative to the first part of Mo's tenure.
- Management has gotten complacent and don't feel the need to improve the team beyond borderline playoff level.
1.) The current management structure has been a victim of their own success and have gotten a little arrogant that certain uncommon risks are going to work just because they've worked in the past. Middling prospects are considered more valuable because similar middling prospects have turned into 3 win players for the Cardinals ala Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, and a plethora of other players in the first few years of this management's run.
2.) The luck pendulum swung the other way. The first half of the run, things worked out really well for the team, and either by luck or having better scouts the team was able to build an 80 win team and in up in the 90s through unexpected wins from the farm system and waiver-wire pickups. The team's core then aged out. Pujols left, Holliday got old, they couldn't find another Berkman or Beltran, Molina got old, they haven't pulled out a Jhonny CarpenCraig from fa/farm to unexpectedly drive the team in a few years.
Instead some of the big prospects the team relied on didn't pan out. From Oscar Taveras to Alex Reyes some of the more critical prospects the team relied on just didn't solidify. Even the pitching staff hasn't been able to turn out reliable starters like it did. Leake was not like Lohse. And none of the current pitchers have managed to have the consistency of a Lance Lynn.
Even the team's aggressive moves like trading for Heyward or Ozuna haven't panned out. The team chose the wrong florida OF. The scrap heap acquisitions for the bullpen haven't worked out like they did. etc. etc.
The team is doing the same basic thing it did in the early-mid 2010s. Difference is they pixie dust isn't as potent.
3.) The team has a different evaluation method for talent than the fanbase and other teams. The team is evaluating players like Pham, Voit, etc. and deciding they aren't going to be successful here. I think part of it is their attempt to create a "cardinals way" culture where the team has loyalty for those who buy in to the Cardinals system, and discard those who don't. This is also why Molina and Carpenter were extended. It's telling the league that if you take a risk with the Cardinals and buy in to their system, you'll get rewarded. I think some of that is going back to #1 where the confidence of management has started to hurt them a bit.
What do you think?