Diamond Diaries

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Tag Archives: John Mozeliak

Winter Warm-Up, Day 1

The Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up kicked off today at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. Throngs of Cardinal fans, all clad in red and looking for a midwinter baseball boost crowded the 2nd and 4th floors to see favorite baseball players, buy souvenirs, collect autographs and talk ball.

As I mentioned earlier in the week (click HERE for that post), I have had varying levels of anxiety mixed with complete joy over the Cardinals’ invitation to cover the event as a credentialed member of “the press”.

My Winter Warm-Up began at the St. Louis airport, where while waiting for my bags I looked up to see Tyler Greene walking my way.  I of course greeted him with a warm “Hi Tyler.” He stopped, smiled, said “Hi,” and paused…

(This “press” thing had me all confused!  Here I’d been working on suppressing fan tendencies all week in preparation for WWU, yet there I was at the airport dressed in my not-fan press’ly attire mentally preparing to be professional and what happens? I run into one of the Cardinals.  My mind short-circuits, knowing this was not the place to ask my prepared interview questions. So…. what to do???)

I went with the obvious, and brilliantly asked him if he was on his was to WWU.  Small, mundane chatter. My mental dialogue is sarcastically critical: “Perfect, Erika.”  Tyler answers, smiles again. and pauses…  (I am not blocking his way. promise.)  We established what time he was signing autographs & I finally (mercifully) waved him on his way, ending with a mostly fan-like “I’ll see you there!”  ugh.

Awkward Tyler Greene airport conversation.  My WWU is starting off oddly.

I arrived at the Hyatt around noon, dropped my bags in the room, grabbed my camera, my spare iphone (voice recorder) and all the questions I had worked on for the day’s listed player interviews. (The players come to the press area after signing autographs and answer questions, as time allows.  Well actually, I thought the players would come after signing, but learned that they may instead come to the interview area before scheduled WWU autograph sessions.  [lesson #1]  So, I was a bit disappointed to discover that I had already missed interview opportunities with minor leaguers Jordan Swagerty, Zack Cox, and Ryan Jackson (yep, they missed out on those amazing questions I had prepared for them) as well as the big boys, Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

Despite studying maps of the layout beforehand, I was lost in the crowd on the 2nd floor while hunting for the spot to pick up my credentials.  Who should come to the rescue, but Matt Sebek (there with Josh Bacott to hunt their Joe SportsFan WWU bread-and-butter:  the elusive, but always rewarding Unusual Cardinal Fan photos).  With good directions from Sebek, I found the lovely Cardinals Care volunteers who handed over my credentials, and I was off to the 4th floor!  … into another crowd, and lost. again.  A text to a friendly blogger buddy: Kevin (covering the WWU for Daniel Shoptaw’s site: C70 at the Bat) helped me find my way to the media work room.  I had arrived!  Late, but ready to hit the ground running!

I spent the next 20-30 minutes hearing what I had missed and waiting for my first media scrum.  Yep, the word is “scrum”.  Apparently that is the term used to describe how the press crowds around a player to ask questions and record soundbites.   It isn’t actually as horribly nasty as it sounds, but the experienced scrummers definitely had an advantage and there is most assuredly a scrum pecking order.  The pros were up close, on the player’s immediate right or left.  The television cameras had front and center.  The tall guys holding the microphones were in front.  This, of course, made it hard on us shorter folk left in the back. However, later in the afternoon, I found a loophole:  stand on a chair. [lesson #3] (I was assured by Brian Stull of 101 ESPN in St. Louis that standing on a chair was perfectly acceptable and he would take the blame if it was not.)  I believe he was right because another (more seasoned-looking) photographer stood on a chair next to me during Adam Wainwright’s scrum time.  When in Rome….  😉

My first scrum experience was with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ GM.  As advised by my fellow newly credentialed blogger comrades, I set my iphone recorder on the podium and managed to snag a prime position with a clear shot of Mo – right next to the tv cameras (beginners luck).

Mozeliak talked for over 20 minutes.  Topics ranging from the opening at second base, to Yadier Molina’s no-show (again) at WWU and including bits about Kyle McClellan- is he staying or going?, how he (Mo) felt when he got the call that Albert had accepted the deal with the Angels, and the future of the organization with all the offseason staffing/coaching changes.

I learned that John Mozeliak really likes to talk about Tyler Greene’s athleticism and his being a superb athlete.  When asked about the 2B options for 2012, Mo was insistent that Tyler Greene would have every opportunity to get more playing time in 2012 and went on to be very supportive of Greene and his potential.  This ode to Tyler Greene caught me off guard, as it seemed to shock others in the room as well because Mo was then questioned about Greene’s prior chances to prove himself.  I am proud to say that I did speak up and ask Mo what getting Tyler Greene more playing time would mean for Daniel Descalso.  In response, Mo praised Descalso’s contributions, emphasizing his abililty to play multiple positions, but finished up with another nod to Tyler Greene’s ability to ALSO play multiple positions.  From the sounds of it, Spring Training may bring quite the battle for 2B, which at this time is “open”.

Another tantalizing tidbit from Mo’s moments:  Yadi will be making a donation to the Cardinals Care fund since he has backed out of Winter Warm-Up this year.  (All proceeds from the Annual Winter Warm-Up benefit Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation supporting kids.)  Mo also mentioned that Yadi doesn’t like to do public autograph sessions, which although not surprising, was disappointing to hear (from a fan’s perspective, which I would never admit to while being a member of the press.) But truthfully, Yadi… what gives??

I did discover lesson #2 after the Mozeliak ditty:  “when hurriedly putting your voice recorder on the podium prior to the scrummage, you should check to make sure it is actually recording.” In the excitement of it all, I thought I hit the little red button.  I did not.  And that is why I am relying on memory here for the Mozeliak interview…  (consider that my disclaimer).  You can check out the links below from the other Cardinal bloggers who were smart enough to turn on their recorders.

Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn

My 2nd scrum was less informative and cut short.  Matt Carpenter (AAA Memphis), pitcher Lance Lynn and the previously-showered-with-Mo-love Tyler Greene all came in together about 10 minutes before their scheduled autograph sessions.  Matt Carpenter looked as though he knew the other two would get most of the questions (he was right.)  The highlights: appearing slimmer than when we last saw him, Lance Lynn discussed how his mentality had changed from starting to relieving and how he “just wants to pitch, wherever it may be.”

Tyler Greene

Tyler Greene talked about being “ready to play… to come into Spring Training ready to play…to play as much as he can….”  When told that Mo was pretty adamant about his getting every opportunity to win the 2B job, Tyler said “it’s great! it’s an open spot… there’s going to be some competition… everybody’s going to be working for it & working hard.”  Tyler then deflected some questions about his prior efforts at the Cardinal infield, reiterating that it was in the past and he is just looking forward to Spring Training while emphasizing his extra practice at 2B this offseason.  Matt Carpenter spoke about working on being versatile and practicing other positions.  (An assumed reference to the burgeoning wealth of 3B talent with World Series MVP David Freese ahead of him and Zack Cox likely surging up to AAA this season.)  All three spoke highly of their former Memphis skipper, Chris Maloney, newly promoted to Cardinals 1st base coach for 2012, and then they were quickly scooted off to the autograph tables.

Adam Wainwright was the highlight of my first day Winter Warm-Up.  Although slumming it in a boring gray hoodie, he was darling, as usual.  Waino answered questions about his rehab (“feeling great” and saying “I am actually worried that I’m too far along instead of the other way around.”) He joked about when he might feel comfortable ribbing new teammate Carlos Beltran about “the curve” and told how Matt Holliday liked to tease him about his gardening hobby that helped occupy his time and “kept him sane” in 2011.  It was obvious Waino is ready to get back to the game.

Some more Waino highlights:  In his humble, yet upstanding way, Adam spoke about his role in the clubhouse, saying “I feel like I have a leadership role on the team.  I feel like I can help in a lot of different ways.”  He also took the opportunity to elaborate on the role faith played in his recovery, explaining “when you are leaning on somebody who is a lot stronger than any human could be and is inspiring like God is, then you are always going to be okay.”

And as luck would have it, my first day of Winter Warm-Up wrapped up with my baseball player talking about a football player.  You may have heard of him?  His name’s Tim Tebow, and Adam Wainwright is a huge fan.

For more WWU goodies, be sure to check out my partners in crime:

Chris Reed will be posting updates on i70baseball.com

Kevin‘s updates are at C70 at the Bat

Nick is covering WWU at PitchersHitEighth

and Ann is posting updates at Aaron Miles Fastball

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Tomorrow, I’m back at it again.  More pictures, more player info.  Winter Warm-Up Day 2!

LIVE From Busch Stadium!

When you get an email from St. Louis Cardinals offering you free tickets, food, drink, and a chance to mingle and meet other writers and bloggers, you would have to be absolutely insane to pass it up, right?

We are here!

We thought so too.

Erika and I are currently hanging out in the Ozzie Smith suite at Busch Stadium with some of our favorite people, despite the fact that we just met many of them today or last night. I think there are still stars in our eyes from getting to meet so many people and do the things we have been able to do so far, and it is currently only the end of the second inning!

We were ushered in through a nice area with conference rooms and an area to meet and talk with various members of the Cardinals front office, including John Mozeliak. Mo chatted for a bit about various topics, then took a few questions from all of us, which we greatly appreciated. While I am sure that he skirted around some questions and did not give answers to the satisfaction of some members in attendance, I feel like we got a decent amount of information.

Chattin’ it up with Mo

When asked about Pujols, we did get the company line of, “We tried really hard to get a deal done, but negotiations have been shut down as of right now, and we do not anticipate to bring them back up until the end of the season. At that point we feel confident that we can still get a deal in place, but we have to do what is in the best interests of the club.” What did you expect?

When asked about the status of Wainwright’s contract, in light of him being on the disabled list and not able to fulfill the stipulations of his contract extension, Mo said that the team had not as of yet had extensive discussions with the Waino camp, but that he has certainly earned the right to all that and more. Good answer! (Yes, I am wearing my Waino shirt. What did you expect?)

An interesting question to me was one about if he as a general manger ever looked back at guys that he had traded away, a form of “buyer’s remorse” as it was. He said he did not, as it wouldn’t really do him any good anyway (and then joked, “Isn’t that what the media is for?”).

When asked if he had any plans to get more involved with social media, namely all of us, Mo just kinda of went, “Well… no.” At least he’s honest! He said it is definitely a conversation he can have in the future, but he had not as of yet.

We were here!

I know there were other questions and answers, lots of information he passed out, but those are the clear ones for me. After Mo took off we learned about the new dynamic pricing program, which changes the prices of tickets based on the demand for each individual game. We also talked about about the 1120 program, which gets you a pair of vouches for $11.20 that will then get you into the game that night. The trick of it is that based on the game that day and the availability of tickets, your seats could be anywhere from field boxes to standing room only. It was at this point that I realized (again… still… some more) that I need to move to St. Louis so I can take advantage of programs like that!

A few other random pics, since it’s now the fourth and I actually want to, you know, watch some of the game…

We met Fredbird!
Jim “the Cat” Hayes with Daniel Shoptaw from C70
Our view. No complaints!

There will be more later, but it might not be until tonight. Enjoy the game! GO CARDS!

Making Peace with the Hot Stove

When my own mother called last week, legitimately worried that I might be burning all my Cardinal gear in a big bonfire out back, I realized that my previous blog post may have been a tad…. ummm, overly dramatic.
I do continue to randomly spout off (to anyone within earshot) that Mr. Mozeliak and the Cardinal ownership are dumber than a box of rocks if they dump ol’ Brendan and his magic glove, but I have adopted a few mental strategies that (so far) are helping me survive each day with that big stupid boulder hanging over my head.
Happy Thought #1: 
Maybe this is all just a clever Cardinal experiment created to motivate Brendan to step up his effort. You know, push him harder to fix whatever is broken and get him to apply himself. Let the Boog think he has to fight for his job and watch the magic return.  After all, a little friendly competition (disguised as brutal rejection) is good for everyone, right?
Happy Thought #2:
As hard as it is for me to spit this out, maybe it is best for Brendan if he gets the heck out of TLR territory. Perhaps the pressure of the Albert thunder grumbles, the Carp death-stare and the LaRussa doghouse are the reason for Ryan’s performance issues at the plate.  That’s a lot of pressure for a quirky young ballplayer from California, regardless of his defensive wizardry.
Aside:  Blame this thought process on a sappy little poster from my childhood bedroom wall. It was of a stunning black horse running majestically through a field of yellow wildflowers. “If you love something set it free” was printed in the corner.  (Looking back on it now, the horse was a poor choice.  Who is going to set a horse free? It should have been a chipmunk or a squirrel or something…)
Anyway, if we truly love our Brendan – and hope to continue to enjoy his acrobatic athleticism on the field – we may indeed need to set him free. Let him go play with a team who will appreciate him in all his mustached goofiness.
A California team would be best. With an outfield full of yellow wildflowers.
Happy Thought #3:
That Ryan Theriot guy is kinda cute. 😉
More Happy Thoughts…
And of course there are amazingly awesome Hot Stove contributions from wonderful Cardinal bloggers that make me smile and forget my Brendan worries.
Today Daniel over at Cardinal70.com composed “A Cardinal Christmas Carol”.  It is *amazing* incredibly funny stuff… and yes, Brendan’s got a part in it.  So, if you suffered through this dribbly post here, consider yourself rewarded – here’s the link to a future Cardinal Holliday classic (yeah… I meant to spell it like that.)  😉
psssst… Mom (if you are reading this): See? I am doing just fine.
I am making peace with the Hot Stove, and Hubby has hidden the matches.

Your weekend project: the chance to be Mo

The Cardinals are on a roll after the All-Star break, winning Thursday and Friday against the Dodgers and scoring 15 runs in the two games while giving up only 5. Also on Thursday, general manager John Mozeliak was given a three-year contract extension. That will keep him on as GM through 2013 with an option for 2014, which means he has some pretty important decisions coming up.

So, as a project this weekend, let’s pretend you’re Mo. Two questions for you:

1. What moves, if any, would you make in the next two weeks before the trade deadline? Who would you trade, from the major or minor leagues, and for who?

2. What are your plans for Albert Pujols?

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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