In February Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s, was the keynote speaker for the convention I work on at my full-time job. It was fascinating to hear his talk, which was about 50 minutes long. One thing he elaborated on was why he does not watch the A’s games, which was a famous part of the movie “Moneyball.” He said he prefers to make his decisions based more on the big picture and what it will take to help the team win overall, rather than what happens in one particular game.
I thought of Beane and his comments after Thursday’s trade deadline — both in reading about the moves he made for his own team as well as after the moves John Mozeliak made to try to improve the Cardinals.
With a few days to absorb it all now, combined with a trip to St. Louis for Friday and Saturday’s Brewers-Cards games, I am glad that Mozeliak made the moves to acquire John Lackey and Justin Masterson. In addition, I’m glad he began the team’s transition about 10 days ago in signing A.J. Pierzynski.
It’s not a secret that I haven’t been too thrilled this season, since I wrote a post called “This Year’s Cardinals Don’t Do Much For Me” two weeks ago and, in it, I said that maybe something would change my mind about this year’s team. And something has — the work of John Mozeliak.
So thank you, Mo.
Sure, it’s sad to see Allen Craig and Joe Kelly leave — it definitely gave me pause on Friday to see a table and rack outside of the Cardinals team store at Busch Stadium filled with Kelly and Craig jerseys and shirseys under “50 percent off” signs. It’s hard to believe they aren’t Cardinals now, and it was difficult to see Craig’s 2013 World Series jersey on display at the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum when I was there Saturday plus even harder to see Kelly’s glasses on display too. But change is always difficult — for fans and players and the manager alike — when some likable and popular guys are moved.
Yet the goal of any team, in any season, should be winning. Any contending team anyway, which obviously the Cardinals are. And things obviously weren’t going as well as any of us liked, wanted or expected. Changes were needed.
Thus changes were made by Mo. That’s his job — to supply the team with the pieces he thinks gives the team the best chance to be successful and win. And, like Beane said, regardless of emotion.
Have the changes made a difference?
Though of course the “small sample size” clause needs to apply, there have been results. The Cardinals won Thursday, hours after the trade of Craig and Kelly, with Oscar Taveras — beneficiary of Craig’s trade since he now will play regularly — homering in his first at-bat. They won Saturday, scoring nine runs for the first time since they beat the Brewers 10-2 on July 12 — before the All-Star break. They came back to win Sunday, giving Lackey a win in his Cardinals debut after Masterson won in his debut Saturday.
Three wins in four games. A two-game leap in the standings, since two of the games were against the division leader. Wins for each new starting pitcher. A key game-tying RBI on Sunday from the new catcher. Oscar hitting .308 in those games with five RBI, one of which was the go-ahead RBI on Sunday.
Yes, we’ve heard plenty since Sunday’s game about the clubhouse and Oscar and how his teammates do or don’t treat him and how they feel about him — I’m sure you’ve read plenty already, as it was certainly a popular topic in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on other Cards blogs and on social media. It did make me wonder if The Really, Really Nice Guys maybe aren’t always all that nice — and then I realized every job, regardless if it’s for a major league baseball team or a trade association like I work for or the office you work for, has workplace politics.
There are cliques. Not every person likes everyone else. There’s pettiness at times. Sometimes even jealousy when some new guy gets all kinds of attention after he starts on the job, especially when the big boss is the one supplying a lot of the attention and talking the guy up. There can even be whining — just among the coworkers, usually, though sometimes to the boss or the big boss — about how unfair it is. Sometimes other people find out, because gossip is certainly a part of any workplace too.
But hopefully the team — whether a professional team like the Cardinals or your workplace team — pulls together when needed for the overall good of the company. I know it happens on my job when we produce the large convention and trade show every February.
So when it comes to the specific workplace team of the 2014 Cardinals, we’ll see over the next eight weeks how they continue to respond to the changes made by John Mozeliak. Or to any subsequent changes that could/will come too. It’s a gamble, sure — pretty much any move any general manager makes always is.
But the moves are made with the end result in mind that we all — fans, players, manager, general manager, owners — want: winning.
We want the 2014 Cardinals to win, plain and simple, no matter what it takes to get there.
So thank you, Mo, for making that desire to win a priority — no matter what the emotion attached to it from others might be.