Baseball fans and analysts like to bark and whine about every trade at the moment they’re made, but trades and other moves are fluid things that improve or deteriorate over time. That is why we revisit and reanalyze the moves of Cardinal GM John Mozeliak every six months in this ever-changing scorecard.

Following the Cardinals’ near-miss playoff run, Mozeliak spent the cold winter offseason chasing down every 35 year-old player with less than 1 cumulative WAR and a good clubhouse reputation. Is La Russa still running this team?

As usual,  I have arranged all of the moves in backwards chronology, starting with the most recent moves. I have also updated several past moves as well.

OFFSEASON 2012-2013

CONTRACT: Ronny Cedeno (2013) – Signed to provide a fourth layer of protection for Rafael Furcal‘s unstable elbow at short, Cedeno is the ultimate junk player. The once-promising infielder has never lived up to the hype, accumulating a stunning -1.6 WAR over eight seasons. That means he’s actuall cost teams nearly two wins over that time period. I hope Furcal’s elbow holds up given this kind of option. GRADE: D

CONTRACT: Ty Wigginton (2013-2014) – After watching the punchless performance of the 2012 bench, Mozeliak moved to shore up the right side with the addition of Wigginton. The 35 year-old infielder can play multiple positions, has 10-20 home run power, and is a fabled clubhouse presence. Wigginton isn’t an exciting pick, but he’s useful. He’s also not expensive (2 years, $5M) unless his body decides to give out. GRADE: B-

TRADE: Skip Schumaker for Jake Lemmerman (2012) – Fan favorite pinup boy Schumaker mysteriously fell out of favor with Mozeliak halfway through 2012, and the relationship never recovered. Although never remarkable, Schumaker displayed the kind of team-first attitude that will always make him welcome at Busch Stadium. Sadly, Mozeliak thought so little of Schumaker that he traded Skippy for the quintessential bag of magic beans in Lemmerman. Who knows if Lemmerman will ever stop partying and become a major league shortstop. While I like the Cardinals making a move to bolster their Death Valley prospects at this position, selling out Schumaker to take on Lemmerman’s attitude problem doesn’t feel right to me. GRADE: D+

CONTRACT: Randy Choate (2013-2015) – The 2012 run demonstrated beyond any doubt that Marc Rzepczynski cannot be your sole lefthander in the bullpen. The team struggled to find another lefty who could stabilize Zeppo’s performance. Enter Choate. The 37 year-old veteran reliever has actually gotten better in recent seasons, posting ERA’s below 3.00 in his last two seasons. I think this might be a solid addition to a growing bullpen. However, a THREE YEAR CONTRACT?? Seriously?? GRADE: C+


TRADE: Zack Cox for Edward Mujica – The seventh inning proved to be a disaster for the 2012 Cardinals, a dark night of the soul haunted by three-run homers and control problems. The loss of a long-relief arm like Kyle McClellan forced the use of unsteady arms like Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez in these innings, to terrible results. Enter Edward Mujica. While prone to the long ball, Mujica has had some success in recent years (a 2.96 ERA in 2011) and has held righties to a .211 batting average. Meanwhile, Cox was blocked by David Freese and 482 other draftees at third, and he wasn’t progressing that well anyway. This is a help-win-now kind of deal. UPDATE: Mujica turned out to be exactly what the Cardinals needed, instantly shoring up innings 7-9. One could make the argument that the Cardinals don’t make it to the playoffs without him. GRADE: B- / UPDATED GRADE: A-

OFFSEASON 2011-2012

CONTRACT: Brian Fuentes (2012) – Released by the Athletics after compiling an ERA of 6.84, the Cardinals snatched him up at almost no financial risk. Fuentes is less than three years removed from his league-leading 48 save season of 2009. No, he is not the same pitcher anymore at age 36, but the Cardinals don’t need that. They just need a lefty who can throw a strike to a left-handed hitter without freaking out. Fuentes fits that bill perfectly. UPDATE: Fuentes totally flaked out after just a few appearances. A complete waste of time and money. GRADE: A- / UPDATED GRADE: F

CONTRACT: Yadier Molina (2012-2017) – Possibly the single most important player in the organization, Molina was rewarded for his Gold Glove defense and constantly-improving offense with a five year, $75MM contract that will keep the lovable Yadi in Cardinal red for life. Even better, Molina has responded with a career-best offensive performance, whacking 16 home runs at the time of this writing. UPDATE: Yadi responded with the best year of his already-spectacular career. GRADE: A / UPDATED GRADE: A+

CONTRACT: Skip Schumaker (2012-2013) – The popular Schumaker has proven his versatility on the field, and his leadership off of it. He’s a willing example of humility, gladly accepting any assignment to help the team win. Every club should be grateful to have someone like Skippy in their clubhouse. At $1.5MM a year, Schumaker has proven to be worth every penny in a troublesome year despite his nagging injuries. UPDATE: After giving the Cardinals a team-friendly contract in order to remain in St. Louis, Mozeliak traded him away for almost nothing (i.e. Jake Lemmerman). Disgusting. GRADE: B+ / UPDATED GRADE: C-

CONTRACT: J.C. Romero (2012) – By (thankfully) releasing Arthur Rhodes, the Cardinals needed a veteran lefty reliever in the bullpen. J.C. Romero should fill that hole nicely. The 35 year-old reliever is not spectacular, but has shown solid effectiveness (lifetime 4.07 ERA, 113 ERA+) over 13 seasons. The guy is a steal for just $750,000, too. UPDATE: Romero and his weird, bird-like eyebrows never meshed with the team. Neither did his 10.13 ERA. He was atrocious and a total waste of a bench slot until he was mercifully released. Thank goodness he was cheap. GRADE: B / UPDATED GRADE: D

CONTRACT: Carlos Beltran (2012-2013) – Beltran rebounded in 2011 to have one of the most productive offensive years in the National League. Mozeliak moved to sign Beltran to fill some of the offensive holes created by Pujols’ defection. In terms of pure numbers ($13M a year for two years for that kind of bat), I suppose the deal is okay. However, Beltran’s knees are no guarantee for two years. Also – how do you work him into the lineup every day when he has no set position and cannot play center very often? This feels like Spackle on a crumbling wall to me. UPDATE: Beltran has responded to the contract in spectacular, Beltran-like fashion. Although he cooled off in the second half, Beltran carried the Cardinals through most of the season. His playoff performances only solidified him as one of the greatest postseason hitters of all time.  GRADE: B- / UPDATED GRADE: A

CONTRACT: Rafael Furcal (2012-2013) – Sure, Furcal was a sparkplug (and a fan favorite) at the end of the 2011 Championship run. He’s also a 34 year-old with the body of a 75 year-old POW veteran. Furcal could get injured slicing angel food cake with a plastic butter knife inside of a padded room. Which is why you DO NOT pay someone like Furcal $7M a year for two years! This is especially true when you have cost-effective players (Tyler Greene, Ryan Jackson) coming up who could handle the position if given the chance. This signing only occurred as a reaction to the Albert Pujols defection, and it’s a shame to see Mozeliak reacting on emotion like this. UPDATE: Furcal virtually carried the team through a bizarre opening stretch of the first half before slumping. Then came the injury we all were waiting for, this time a ligament tear in his right elbow. Will he be able to come back from something like that? The front office is betting on it.  GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: B-

CONTRACT: Lance Berkman (2012) – After receiving one of the best deals in baseball in 2011, the Cardinals were forced to pony up additional money to keep their right fielder/first baseman beyond the World Series. With the Pujols situation uncertain and looming, Mozeliak moved to secure Berkman’s potent bat and clubhouse-friendly demeanor with $12M for one year. It was a well-deserved raise that can still pay off handsomely for the team if he stays healthy – a big question mark. UPDATE: Berkman spent most of 2012 on the disabled list and collecting a huge $12M payday before moving on to the Rangers. Still love the guy, but extending him was a bad idea (as I had predicted). GRADE: A / UPDATED GRADE D

NOT Extending Albert Pujols A public relations disaster for everyone concerned. Ultimately, Mozeliak and the Cardinals came out looking like the practical ones in this debacle, while Pujols (now obviously in it for the money) looked like a greedy, pussy-whipped moron. Still, this situation should never have come to this end. I applaud the Cardinals for their financial responsibility, but they let it get to this point with their mismanagement. UPDATE: Pujols is only now starting to hit after beginning the season with the worst slump of his career. Meanwhile, the Cardinals responded by actually improving their offense from the Pujols era. Still, the whole mess could’ve been better. GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: B-


CONTRACT: Jaime Garcia (2011-2015) – The Cardinals locked up their talented young lefthanded starter for around $7 million a year for four years, which puts them one year into free agency. Most baseball people agree that Garcia’s best years are still ahead of him as long as he stays healthy, a concern given his Tommy John surgery. Still, an excellent, foresighted deal. UPDATE: Garcia has continued his infuriatingly inconsistent performance, going 3-4 with a nasty 4.48 ERA this season before going on the DL with a “moderately torn labrum” in his left shoulder. Sounds promising, eh? Who knows if Garcia will ever put it all together. GRADE: A- / UPDATED GRADE: C-

TRADE: Alex Castellanos and CASH for Rafael Furcal – After trading away a light-hitting/great defensive shortstop in Brendan Ryan, the Cardinals acquired another one in Furcal, who was hitting under .200 at the time he was moved. It crowds the infield with a bunch of replacement-level parts, rather than a permanent solution. UPDATE: Furcal definitely inspired the team down the stretch, which is something. But he also made for a terrible leadoff hitter, and committed 10 errors in 50 games. Now Furcal is the starting shortstop for two more years, setting back the Cardinals’ youth movement. Still, Furcal has produced impressively in 2012 (see above) GRADE C / UPDATED GRADE: B

TRADE: Colby Rasmus, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters and Trever Miller for Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and Corey Patterson (Trade deadline 2011) – Mozeliak’s biggest deal thus far was a massive three-team swap that sent away a valuable, potential All-Star outfielder in Rasmus for some talented hired guns (Jackson and Dotel) and a real lefthanded specialist in Rzepczynski. Mozeliak’s hand were tied with Rasmus, as TLR was spending every waking moment destroying Rasmus’ trade value in the press. In return, Mo received many important fixes for the current roster in a “win now” approach. Much of this grade depends on whether we actually win, and how Colby does in Toronto, but I’m grading this trade up right now simply because Mozeliak managed to convince someone to take Miller and Tallet off of our hands. UPDATE: Simply put, if Mozeliak doesn’t do this, we don’t win the 2011 World Series. It turned out brilliantly – Rasmus flamed out in Toronto, while Jackson became a sturdy horse, Dotel mostly dazzled, and Rzepczynski shined once TLR learned how to properly use him. A masterstroke. GRADE: B / UPDATED GRADE: A

OFFSEASON 2010-2011

CONTRACT: Nick Punto (2011) – The celebrated glove-only infielder proved to be a perfect fill-in during the Cardinals’ troubling first half defensive woes … WHEN HE WAS HEALTHY. Our little potato-headed Punto bean spent more time disabled than abled, leading to catastrophe. Punto wasn’t great at the plate, either. Still, the whole Shredder thing was kinda fun. GRADE: C

CONTRACT: Lance Berkman (2011) – Mozeliak spent $8 million for Berkman, which is outrageous considering that Berkman has struggled to be effective for the last three years on crumbling knees. Even worse, Mozeliak did this in order to play Berkman in the outfield, where he will be able to run as fast as the corpse of Bea Arthur. But it is only for one year, so we’ll give him some points for that. UPDATE: It turns out that Berkman saved the 2011 season single-handedly with his huge power and awesome personality. GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: A

CONTRACT: Ryan Theriot (2011) – At the moment, the Theriot contract felt right. Theriot would be a solid alternative to the Cards’ rotating shortstop situation. However, after Theriot committed around 109 errors in the first half, the club moved to grab Furcal, leaving Theriot without a job on a World Championship team. The fact that he was let go without a pat on the ass tells you much. GRADE: D

CONTRACT: Gerald Laird (2011)– Rather than play prospect Bryan Anderson, Mozeliak bowed to LaRussa’s wishes and signed Gerald Laird to a million dollar contract. Laird has almost none of the possibilities of young Anderson, and he’s also twice the price. In the larger scheme of things, though, this is a fairly minor signing. GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: B-

CONTRACT: Jake Westbrook (2010-2012) – Giving Westbrook $8 million a year for two years feels like the perfect contract. Not too long, right amount of money, and the potential to really pay off with Westbrook under Duncan’s spell. This was a solid signing that cements the rotation and makes it one of the better staffs in the National League. UPDATE: Westbrook was mostly terrible all season with a good team behind him. Duncan did nothing to help Westbrook, either. How can a starting pitcher who played al season end up with a WAR of ZERO?? Only a big hairy marshmallow like Westbrook could do that! Still, Westbrook redeemed his awful 2011 performance by losing some weight and becoming one of the steadiest arms in the rotation. He’s pitched so well that many in the organization have reconsidered his option in 2013. GRADE: B+ / UPDATED GRADE: C

TRADE: Ryan Ludwick for Jake Westbrook – Mozeliak traded away one of the best RBI guys since 2008 for two reasons: (1) LaRussa didn’t want to give him playing time and Luddy didn’t like it, and (2) LaRussa and Duncan coveted Westbrook. This gets a higher grade simply because Luddy had a terrible year after the trade, while Westbrook provided a solid year on the mound. But it gets a lower grade because the team didn’t need a pitcher as badly as it needed offense, and the trade took the wind out of the 2010 team’s sails. UPDATE: Westbrook was so awful down the stretch that he pitched exactly one inning for a team that was struggling to find enough pitching in the postseason. When TLR would rather pitch a bullpen-by-committee than pitch a starter (not) earning $8M a year, then something’s wrong. GRADE: C- / UPDATED GRADE: D+

TRADE: Blake Hawksworth for Ryan Theriot – The Hawk wasn’t very valuable to a strong Cardinals bullpen, and they traded him for a guy who will most likely solidify team’s attitude. Unfortunately, Theriot will be playing every day in an attempt to replace the game’s best defensive shortstop with his meager offensive output. By itself, this is a good trade … but it’s not so good in the larger scheme of things (see below). UPDATE: Theriot’s attitude was terrific down the stretch, but attitude doesn’t make the ball bounce into the glove. Theriot was so bad by August that Mozeliak had to get Rafael Furcal to take over the position. Slight bump due to Theriot’s quiet acceptance of this. GRADE: B- / UPDATED GRADE: C+

TRADE: Brendan Ryan for Maikel Cleto – An awful trade for anyone not named LaRussa, the Cardinals gave away the game’s best defensive shortstop for what amounts to 180 pounds of ground beef. Even worse, LaRussa bad-mouthed Ryan before trading began, destroying any potential value he held. All sides should be ashamed. This only receives a higher mark because Ryan would have been abused further had he stayed. GRADE: D / UPDATED GRADE: D-

CONTRACT: Matt Holliday (2010-2017)- Although most people gulped in horror at the cost of keeping Holliday as a Cardinal (seven years, $120 million), Holliday proved once again why he earns that with a remarkably consistent 2010 campaign. If he stays healthy through the duration of that contract, it will end up one of the better contracts in Cardinal history. GRADE: A-


TRADE: Chris Perez and Jess Todd for Mark DeRosa – The first of two major moves by Mozeliak to bolster a sagging team (see Greene above) saw the Cards giving up two huge prospects to the Indians in exchange for the dynamic DeRosa. For this deal, the Cardinals gave up a powerful relief pitcher (see Perez 2010) for three valuable months of DeRosa that eventually went nowhere. The team refused to offer DeRosa much to stay, so the trade is mostly meaningless. GRADE: D+

TRADE: Chris Duncan for Julio Lugo – One of Mozeliak’s ballsier moves. Although Duncan had heart, his blatant inability to play baseball kept interfering with the team’s attempts to win. So Mozeliak, over the ridiculous objections of LaRussa and Daddy Duncan, traded the kid to Boston for Lugo, who proceeded to do NOT MUCH in return. As it turns out, Duncan is a better broadcaster than a ballplayer. I will give this a higher score simply because Mozeliak showed guts in the face of a fractured and contentious on-field staff. GRADE: B-

TRADE: Brett Wallace, Matt Mortenson, and Shane Peterson for Matt Holliday (2009) – A brilliant deal. Mozeliak traded away three overvalued prospects (will Wallace EVER reach his potential?) for one of the game’s most consistent offensive forces. Mozeliak put the cherry on this one by making it count with a deal (see below). GRADE: A+


CONTRACT: Yadier Molina (2008 – 2012)– By giving Molina four more years, Mozeliak assured Cardinal Nation that they will have one of the most dynamic defensive catchers in decades behind the plate at a reasonable cost. However, who knows what Molina, now a star, will make in 2012. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mozeliak extends Molina again in 2011. UPDATE: Once more, my prediction is perfect. See above for details of Yadi’s brand new contract in 2012! GRADE: A

CONTRACT: Adam Wainwright (2008-2013)– It was clear from Wainwright’s late-season dominance in 2007 that he was something special, but nobody could be sure just how good Waino could be when Mozeliak extended him for four years. Mozeliak’s foresight was rewarded as Wainwright has competed for the Cy Young the last two years (and, in my mind, won it in 2009). UPDATE: Wainwright’s Tommy John surgery took him out of the 2011 campaign, and he’s struggled mightily in his return in 2012. Wainwright is still worth the money, but we haven’t received our money’s worth just yet. GRADE: A+ / UPDATED GRADE: B

CONTRACT: Kyle Lohse (2008-2012) – Worst deal in decades. Based on one pretty good year in 2008, Mozeliak gave Lohse a four year, $42 million dollar contract. Lohse has been a disaster since. The high cost means the Cards can’t really deal Lohse, either. So we’re stuck with this guy for two more years. UPDATE: Lohse pitched well in September 2011, contributing to the team’s startling comeback win in the division. But Lohse has really shined in 2012, becoming our ace following the injury to Carpenter and the rehabilitation of Waino. He’s been invaluable in 2012, which happens to be his contract year. His agent, Scott Boras, is probably sporting wood. GRADE: F+/ UPDATED GRADE: B

TRADE: Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus – Like many players, Rolen simply could not co-exist in the same clubhouse with grouchy overlord Tony LaRussa, so Rolen had to go. Mozeliak made an even swap here, trading for third basemen with Toronto. Glaus gave the team one good year before falling apart. Meanwhile, Rolen eventually recovered to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a divison win last year. Of course, Rolen could never do that with LaRussa running the show, so Mozeliak’s move was sadly necessary. UPDATE: Look at Rolen go for the resurgent 2012 Reds! I guess there was still some gas in the tank after all. GRADE: B / UPDATED GRADE: C

TRADE: Anthony Reyes for Luis Perdomo – Another “must trade” situation, as promising righthander Reyes had made himself a thorn in the side of LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan (see a trend here?). Perdomo is a hard-throwing righthanded reliever with great strikeout rates. So, of course, the Cardinals let him escape the following year in the Rule 5 draft. Reyes, meanwhile, required Tommy John surgery and is currently in Triple A with the Indians. The real problem with this trade is that a promising righthander like Reyes should’ve garnered more than Perdomo. GRADE: C-

TRADE: Mark Worrell and Luke Gregerson for Khalil Greene – Attempting to find a solid shortstop, Mozeliak dealt promising young relievers Worrell and Gregerson to the Padres for nutcase Greene. The Khalil Greene saga of ’09 was a monumental disaster for the team, but, prior to the trade, Mozeliak couldn’t have known about Greene’s psychological issues. It was a solid trade on principle (i.e. trying to get a solid player to man his natural position), but it didn’t work out. GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: D


TRADE: Jim Edmonds for David Freese – In one of his first moves, Mozeliak traded slumping and injured 37 year old Jim Edmonds to San Diego for 24 year old prospect David Freese. At the time, Freese showed tremendous possibilities as an impact bat and a smooth glove. As it turns out, Freese still has those qualities. He also has ankles made of the most delicate crystal that are prone to shattering with the slightest breeze. UPDATE: Freese’s performance down the stretch and in the postseason is already the stuff of legend. In fact, he reminds Cardinal fans most of Jimmy Ballgame with his Big Moment clutchiness. If he can stay healthy, Freese is going to be a force – see his magnificent 2011 postseason as an example of what he can do. GRADE: C / UPDATED GRADE: B+

About The Author

Lifelong Cardinal fan and general loudmouth.