The St. Louis Cardinals are a loyal organization, from players to employees; they are also loyal to the fans, specifically those that write about the team. Each year, the organization invites non-traditional media to their annual blogger day, where they make executives available for questions, as well as different promotions that the organization runs.
This year, the Cardinals made GM John Mozeliak, President Bill DeWitt III, and VP of Event Services and Merchandising Vicki Bryant.
Mozeliak spoke first and ran through the tough season that the Cardinals are playing. Mozeliak admitted the season has not gone as planned and the team has under-performed. They have been working to get the team going (which led to Mozeliak joking that the manager was running out another different lineup that day). He also said that they would investigate the trade market to see what ways they could improve the club.
Bryant spoke second. She oversees the merchandising in both the stadium and at Ballpark Village. A majority of her time was used to build up Ballpark Village – the Cardinal Nation restaurant, roof top seating, and the Cardinal Museum.
Finally, DeWitt discussed the business side of the Cardinals. Ballpark Village again was a large topic; DeWitt praised the idea and execution of the building of the complex. He noted that many other teams try to incorporate similar ideas to their ballparks, but none has had the ability to build what is in St. Louis. He also noted that they are still working to build up phases 2, 3 and 4 if needed; they are looking for more retail stores to get on board, along with residential and corporate facilities.
DeWitt also went into the impact of the farm system. He said the Cardinals never set out to buy their farm system partners, but owning the Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, and Johnson City franchises have helped the organization. He specifically noted Memphis, which the team bought this year, and Springfield are both beneficial being as close as they are; they can cross promote easily and there is a closeness to the system – both players and fans.
During the Q&A, there were a lot of good comments from both DeWitt and Mozeliak:
- On tobacco use: Mozeliak explained that the team cannot ban use of tobacco on the field, as it’s part of the agreement with the players association. It is banned in the minors and in the Cardinals clubhouse. Any player that uses tobacco on the field brings it themselves.
- On revenues from Ballpark Village: DeWitt said that Ballpark Village was doing well; there are areas that are exceeding expectations while other areas need work. The money from the complex has not been earmarked for anything at this time. Down the line, it could be used for payroll purposes, but they can’t make that determination now.
- On the draft: The team uses a best player available philosophy. This year, they did focus slightly more on pitching because they felt they were much deeper on fielders in the system. He also noted that they knew 3rd round pick Trevor Megill would be a tough sign and picked him anyway; Megill announced earlier in the week that he’d be returning to school in the fall instead of signing with the team. Mozeliak acknowledged that they are disappointed, but they would be receiving a compensation pick at the end of the 3rd round in 2015.
- Regarding the trade deadline: Mozeliak approaches the trade deadline with the idea that no player is untouchable, but there are some that will be tough to give up. He’s reminds himself that he doesn’t want to sacrifice tomorrow to make a run today.
- On Oscar Taveras - Mozeliak said he told Matheny one thing about Taveras: he needed to play every day. Mozeliak didn’t want Taveras accruing service time while playing less than 5 days a week. Once Adams came off the DL, it was obvious that the everyday spot wouldn’t be there for him. It was important for him to play every day after missing so much time last year. He also noted that while Taveras had a big first 2 games, he did struggle over his tenure in the majors.
- On trading Scott Rolen – Mozeliak spoke with Rolen daily after the 2007 and the request for a trade continually came up. Mozeliak joked that he wanted to find a worst situation for Rolen – Toronto. When he advised Scott of the trade, Rolen and his agent went dead silent. They requested that a bonus that was due after the contracts completion be paid up front for Rolen to approve the trade. It was a situation the Mozeliak didn’t like to be in, as it was not a deal that had the best interest of the team in mind.
- On Mark Ellis – Mozeliak feels that Ellis got a rough deal this season, as he missed the end of spring training with a twisted knee; it led him to having a DL stint to start the season. Mozeliak said that it appeared the Ellis never got going. They hopped that Wong’s demotion would have been what Ellis needed to get going, but it didn’t happen. He also noted that time is starting to run out for the veteran.
After the Q&A, the group was moved to 2 adjoining party suites to taste many of the new foods at the ballpark and at Redbird Nation. There was everything from chicken mondega and pork steaks, to pretzel bites with beer cheese and loaded tater tots. They also featured some of the more traditional ballpark foods like hot dogs, brats, and a nacho bar. They finished it off with fried cheesecake, cookies and brownies. All were quite tasty.
To round out the day, the Cardinals defeated the Phillies 5-3.