This morning’s online edition of the Post Dispatch included a story by Rick Hummel regarding the Cards’ “cash flow” concerns (see link at the end of this piece). The story was, as per The Commish’s usual style, well done and insightful; but ol’ Mozeliak’s spin-session was nauseating to say the least.
Tell you what…we’ll skip all the excuse-making parts where Mo gets busy laying the foundation for his Spring Training excuse-making session (“Well…you see…as I said back in January…we really don’t have as much money as you thought we did…”), and we’ll just jump right to the point – the part where Mo employs his Fuzzy Mo-Math.
Near the end of the story, the following appears in regards to using Perez and/or Motte in the closer role for ’09:
“I know it’s not optimal the way Tony (manager Tony La Russa) looks at it,” Mozeliak said. “But we went with a very young outfield last year that got the same type of scrutiny and questions that now our bullpen is getting. I’m using that as a barometer that it works.
“We had the same type of faith in Ludwick and Ankiel and that group as we do with Perez and Motte and (Kyle) McClellan.”
First of all, let’s clear up history a bit…Ludwick was, at no time, seen as a potential everyday starter. Did the club have confidence in him? Sure…as a back-up outfielder off the bench. No one predicted the kind of season he had last year…especially not Mo. Mo’s attempt to establish a track record by using Ludwick’s 2008 season is a blatant attempt to rewrite history. It just didn’t happen that way. Ludwick bailed Mo out and saved him from having to deal one of his precious prospects to get an impact bat. He was a surprise – not an expectation.
Second, let’s be clear on Kyle McClellan (who Mo has all kinds of confidence in)…if not for Dave Duncan, K-Mac wouldn’t even be in this position. It was Dunc’s experience, eye, and faith in the kid that developed him as a viable option last year and this year. It was Tony’s confidence in the kid during the 2008 season that established his track record of performance. Mo had nothing to do with it. And yet – ironically – Mo chooses to use K-Mac as evidence of their reliable bullpen while categorically ignoring advice and warnings from Tony and Dunc about the vulnerability of that same pen. It just doesn’t add up. Tony and Dunc are responsible for the K-Mac we have now…a pitcher Mo is willing to build his bullpen around…but Mo refuses to listen to them when they say it’s not enough? A little consistency, please…
Third – and this is the part that really gets me – does Mo really not understand the game of baseball? Or does he just think we’re stupid? He literally equated the outfield position to a pitcher. Here’s where the Fuzzy Mo-Math really kicks in…to Mo, a Relief Pitcher = an Outfielder. For you math geeks out there, the equation would be something like 3RHP + 3LHP = 3OF. It’s ludicrous!
Here…let me explain…Mo wants us to believe that relying on a bunch of rookies and kids in the outfield is exactly the same as relying on a bunch of rookies and kids on the mound. But that’s not the reality! A young outfielder steps to the plate maybe 4 times in a game. Maybe 1 or 2 of those AB’s really has a chance to make a difference…maybe. A young relief pitcher, however (especially in the closer’s role), comes into a game and throws every pitch in a critical, difference-making scenario – and many times against the team’s best hitters. Completely different situations!
Let’s look at it a different way…you take a young outfielder off the bench and throw him into a few AB’s…chances are, he’s going to get a hit. The skill set is totally different. A free-swinging outfielder who doesn’t know the first thing about baseball could still survive on talent alone to the tune of a .260 average and a few dingers. You take a young relief pitcher, however, and throw him on the mound against a team’s best in a save situation – he better freakin’ know what he’s doing and how to control himself or he will serve it up more times than not. Maturity and experience counts on the mound in ways it never counts at the plate! At the plate, experience and knowledge of the game is a luxury that takes a so-so hitter and turns him into an All-Star. On the mound, experience and maturity are a necessity! You throw a kid out there and rely on him in pressure situations…you’re flipping a coin with his career – Heads he gets it done/Tails he’s baggin’ groceries in Memphis.
Look…I like Mo…I really do. I like his approach, his long-term concern, and his faith in the development system. And, honestly, I love the idea of Motte or Perez inheriting the closer’s role late in the season. But let’s not be stupid. Using the unexpected success of a young 2008 outfield as a guide to construct a reliable 2009 bullpen is nothing short of baseball idiocy. And Mo knows better…it’s just more spin-session posturing to try and appease the part of the fanbase that doesn’t know any different.
Bad form, Mr. Mozeliak…bad form indeed…
I’ll close with this paraphrased quote from a Cardinals closer (I believe it was Jason Isringhausen in 2008): “I know that everytime I go out there and step on the mound, if I have a good day, we win – if I have a bad day, we lose.” Exactly.