photo: Bill DeWitt Jr., John Mozeliak, Bill DeWitt III, Mike Matheny (USA TODAY Sports Images)
Generally, promotions are based on evaluation over the long haul, rather than on immediate results. St. Louis Cardinals fans were reminded of that this past summer, when the club’s decade of success under General Manager John Mozeliak was recognized with a pair of key front office promotions which cemented ownership’s confidence that the organization remained on the right path.
On June 30, Mozeliak was promoted to the newly-created position of President of Baseball Operations and Michael Girsch moved up from Assistant General Manager to replace Mozeliak. Both executives received contract extensions through 2020. As is customary, salary levels were not disclosed.
On that final day of June, the 2017 Cardinals were not in a good place, however. The team had fallen into third place in the National League Central Division, with a record that was four games under .500. Even so, the 37-41 club was still just 3 1/2 games out of first place.
These moves were far more about continuity than change, as the core of both men’s job responsibilities remained comparable, along with new titles and increased job security – likely also coming with pay increases. In the team’s announcement press conference, Mozeliak explained the moves were necessary to protect losing Girsch to another MLB club.
Mozeliak, 48, is a 22-year veteran of the Cardinals front office who had served as the team’s general manager for 10 seasons (2008-2017). During that time, the Cardinals advanced to the postseason six times, winning the World Championship in 2011, and the National League Championship in 2013.
Girsch, 41, has worked in the Cardinals front office for 11 years, including the last seven seasons as the team’s assistant general manager (2011–2017). In his prior role, Girsch assisted Mozeliak with major league player transactions and player evaluations, and helped oversee all aspects of Baseball Operations, including amateur and pro scouting, player development, international operations and baseball development.
Now, as GM, Girsch has become the clear department head for the team’s entire Baseball Operations department, but Mozeliak is still not far removed from the action.
“It is as important to maintain outstanding talent in the front office as it is on the playing field,” said Bill DeWitt Jr., Principal Owner and Chief Executive Officer on June 30. “Our success as an organization is built upon our continuity in leadership and today’s announcement ensures we keep two of the best young talents in our game for years to come.”
The news came eight months after Cardinals field manager Mike Matheny had received his own extension. Its timing raised some eyebrows, as the team had just come off its first playoff miss in five years and with Matheny still having one year remaining on his then-current contract. The club’s skipper since 2012 was given a three-year extension that also runs through the 2020 season.
As everyone reading this knows, the 2017 Cardinals finished in third place and sat out the post-season for the second consecutive fall. However, that story remains to be told in this countdown, so stay tuned!
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