With all due respect to the magnificent late James Gandolfini, it seems there is a new contender for if and when any version of The Sopranos is remade or made into a film — St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. It seems Mozeliak has developed quite the penchant for being over the top with criticism and overly secretive with the “family business”.
A case in point was just last evening when announcer Dan McLaughlin was relaying information from Mozeliak’s laptop concerning rookie Randal Grichuk‘s bat speed. It was explained that he would not give out a specific number but it was rarefied air. Considering Grichuk has been swinging and missing more than a drunk sailor in a country bar fight, the one hit he struck might not be worthy of hyperbole. Of course, rarefied air could also mean the patrons in the front row were getting free air conditioning with the rookie’s fanning.
But this is okay, as Grichuk is going to be very good and has the work ethic to get there. The larger problem is that Mozeliak is becoming a problem for team chemistry. Twice this season, Mozeliak has accused one of his prospects of not being tough enough mentally. First with Oscar Taveras, when it was clear the young man was still concerned about his ankle (let’s not get into how badly the club mishandled Taveras’ original injury just yet), and now with 2B Kolten Wong, the victim of a whisper campaign relating to his ability to handle failure, or some such cop out.
Taken individually, none of these things is a huge issue, but collectively a pattern of mendacity and manipulation begins to emerge. Aside from the fact Mozeliak feels a need to defend what is rapidly becoming a disastrous offseason of wheeling and dealing, he is being heavy-handed with the kids and it seems this may be affecting the clubhouse. Shane Robinson and Pete Kozma are not legends, but they are beloved in the clubhouse, and optioning them to Memphis left a clubhouse full of even more strangers and much role confusion.
Yes there are problems in the “Cardinalese” family. Some of these are on the field, but more and more it is beginning to look like the wannabe Tony Soprano is upsetting his captains and not promoting his earners. Nobody knows for sure how it ended for the TV Tony, but if this club fails, essentially the first he is solely responsible for without now Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow‘s help, it can be assured how it will end for him: with a pink slip. So it seems, when it comes to the promise of the Luhnow farm, the best advice I can give to Mozeliak is “Don’t Stop Believin'”.