photo: John Mozeliak via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Prior to Friday’s doubleheader in Pittsburgh, St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak addressed the media via Zoom.
His initial objective was to outline staff reductions that “started a few days ago” in both the team business and baseball operations functions.
Mozeliak called out three contributing factors “under the umbrella of 2021 uncertainty”:
- The pandemic
- Minor league changes – starting with two less teams in 2021 means 12 full-time positions eliminated
- Amateur scouting calendar changed – don’t know when high school and college play will begin – looking to better use amateur and professional scouts by “cross-pollinating” them
Though Mozeliak would not comment on the number of employees affected, he did offer some general perspective on which functions were targeted and why.
The focus was on those employees not fully “engaged”, and in areas that had grown over time. Examples he shared:
- Only one area scout was not renewed for 2021 (out of 15 by my count)
- They did not have a Performance Department in 2011
- Analytics grew from four to 17 employees
- Mental strength coaches were added
- The Cardinal Core program has been “put on pause” (This department, focusing on off-field development of targeted prospects, includes five individuals, including former players Braden Looper, Ryan Ludwick and Orlando Palmeiro)
Mozeliak said the MLB staff, another area of recent expansion, will be reviewed after the season. However, he “hopes” there will be no headcount reductions there. Mozeliak reaffirmed the need for two big league hitting coaches, noting “every player hears a different voice.”
Specifics (to be added)
Sources confirm three of the cuts in #STLCards player development staff were roving instructors Jason Isringhausen and Ryan Ludwick and Palm Beach manager Dann Bilardello, all of whom had been with the organization for years.
— Rob Rains (@RobRains) September 18, 2020
With 217 career saves, Isringhausen is the team’s all-time leader in the category. In recent years, he was a roving pitching instructor in the minor leagues. Ludwick, a former outfielder with the club, served as a roving hitting instructor along with his Cardinal Core advisory duties.
Bilardello, a former MLB catcher, was once the organization’s catching coordinator. 2020 would have been his 11th season managing in the system and 16th overall, including time in the Red Sox and Dodgers organizations. His 2017 Palm Beach team was named co-champions of the high-A Florida State League. Bilardello also managed Cardinals farm clubs in the New York-Penn, Midwest and Texas Leagues.
Team President Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Business Journal that over two dozen employees were let go. In addition to Mozeliak’s baseball operations, sales and servicing on the business operations side were affected.
Update no. 2
This is surprising. Gebhard is a former general manager and served as a special assistant and assignment scout and possesses a wealth of knowledge. He is 77 years of age.
Bourjos has been a scout for over a decade, but just joined the Cardinals for 2019. He is apparently the one area scout let go, not mentioned by name by Mozeliak.
Remember those #STLCards layoffs a couple of weeks ago? I've confirmed two names from baseball ops and they cut deep: Bob Gebhard, one of John Mozeliak's mentors, and Chris Bourjos, longtime scout and father of former Cards outfielder Peter.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) October 2, 2020
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