The Mozeliak Method vs. The Search For A Shortstop
When Cardinal general manager John Mozeliak told fans on Thursday that the team would not be seeking a shortstop to support/replace the tandem of Rafael Furcal and Pete Kozma, many of them flipped out.
With good reason, too. Furcal has the injury record of a rodeo clown, and Kozma quickly fell to Earth after a momentarily-transcendent September. Mozeliak’s words sounded like more corporate hedging, another year of patchwork infield defense and mood swing offense. After watching their worst fears of a Furcal breakdown come true following years of organizational indifference at shortstop, the boiling frustration finally bubbled over.
However, while pondering Mozeliak’s words, angry fans need to keep this in mind: John Mozeliak is a liar.
In this instance, calling him a liar isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like any poker player, Mozeliak is simply keeping his true hand hidden. His words to the press about not needing a shortstop could simply be another gambler’s ruse to undermine potential trading partners.
Mozeliak has mastered this art already. Think back to his brilliant string of lies in July of 2011 that led to the Colby Rasmus megadeal. All summer Mozeliak insisted that the club had little interest in moving Rasmus, and how the club felt confident that the bullpen woes that year would soon correct themselves.
It was all bullshit, of course, a smoke screen. Mozeliak was salivating at the chance to unload Rasmus and salvage a tattered bullpen, but he couldn’t let other general managers know the entire truth. So Mozeliak baited them, casually dangling Rasmus as a “possibility” until another GM coughed up enough quality players. Then, like any great gambler, Mozeliak struck the right deal at the right moment. It was the single best trade of the year, and it was built on a monumental platform of lies and deceit.
In gambling terms, it’s called a bluff; Make your opposition think they have you cornered and in trouble, only to blindside them with your real terms. As GM’s go, Mozeliak has, in just a few years, demonstrated a master’s skill level at the technique.
When it comes to the shortstop situation, Mozeliak knows better than anyone that the team is in trouble at the position. They owe Furcal $7 million in 2013, and they can’t guarantee he’ll play one inning next year. Meanwhile, Kozma is merely back-up material at this point. Ryan Jackson might as well be dead.
So when Mozeliak tells the media that the team “feels confident in Furcal’s recovery” from a partial tear in his elbow ligament, he must be lying again. Why? Because Furcal has yet to throw a baseball since the injury occurred. No matter what the MRI’s tell the Cardinals’ team of clown hospital doctors, Furcal’s recovery cannot instill “confidence” in anyone other than a fool.
Or a liar.
I suspect that Mozeliak is very interested in shoring up the organization’s glaring and chronic shortstop problem with someone like Asdrubal Cabrera. By downplaying the need, he gives himself a tactical advantage in negotiations. Also, it covers his ass if such negotiations fail. Either way, Mozeliak wins by lying through his teeth.
Don’t be fooled by the nerdy glasses, awkward fashion choices, or the dopey voice. Mozeliak is a shark, and he’ll say whatever it takes to get his opponents into the water.