Mozeliak reviews his players' performance

Mozeliak reviews his players' performance

Here is the second half of a two-part Q&A with general manager John Mozeliak prior to the Cardinals' first game in the postseason on Friday on FOX Sports 1. In the previous edition, Mozeliak provided insight into how his club was built. In this portion, he offers his thoughts on the season and how players matched up to expectations: Who do you see as the underrated MVP of this team?

Mozeliak: You could argue Jhonny Peralta. You could argue Matt Holliday. You could argue Matt Carpenter. You could argue Adam Wainwright. But probably Pat Neshek would be the guy. For him doing what he did in a lot of ways saved our bullpen. And I don't think people are necessarily going to recognize him. But clearly, he's been an important player in what we've done this year.

Or maybe Jon Jay, right? Here was a guy who was coming off his year last year and had pressure, had to compete for more playing time year and just did a tremendous job from a performance standpoint. Everything we always talk about in terms of leadership and the type of person he is in the clubhouse, that always stood the same, even through the ups and downs of playing time. In the end, he might be one of those guys who might not get as much positive print as he deserves. What was the biggest surprise to you in terms of how this season played out?

Mozeliak: Honestly, I still scratch my head a little bit on our offense. We don't know exactly why or how we are where we are. I certainly knew we weren't going to equal last year's team (the success hitting with runners in scoring position). I got that. That's one of the reasons why we went out and got Peralta. But that being said, it's been a little bit of a confusing year. If you were looking for adjectives to describe the club's offense, which would you select?

Mozeliak: Inconsistent at times. And not as explosive as I would have imagined. To your latter point, you're talking about more than just the lack of home runs, right?

Mozeliak: Yeah, I just feel like from a club standpoint that we have a hard time piggybacking on top of hits. You had a number of players going through their sophomore seasons this year. How would you assess their abilities to handle the adversity that comes with that second-year learning curve?

Mozeliak: I think all of them took steps forward. This is a hard league, and a lot of times people have success when they first get here, but they can't figure out a way to sustain it or build on it. And when we look at somebody like a Trevor Rosenthal, obviously the pressure on him was real, and frankly, he wasn't, from a statistical standpoint, as good as he was last year. But he still was able to do the job. You look at somebody like Shelby Miller, who I think continues to grow up in front of us and mature. That's encouraging to see. I think Matt Carpenter, who had an MVP-type year last year, still showed the type of player that he is capable of being. How have you seen manager Mike Matheny grow in this, his third season on the job?

Mozeliak: I still think as a manager, you're always evolving. Every year you have a different set of tools to work with and things change. It's been a challenging year for him, because last year, from an offensive standpoint, we were clicking. But from a rotational standpoint, we were much more challenged. It was tough to balance that. This year, it was the opposite of that, so all of that helps him grow as a manager. I just think his overall confidence and his in-game strategy is becoming something that he has more confidence in. Matheny often describes himself as a "blind optimist." Do you think that served this team well, particularly during the valleys this season?

Mozeliak: It's an amazing trait, for sure, because he never got down. Even when things appeared to be going south, he figured a way with his optimistic outlook to keep things cloaked. In the end, that may be the message of this season, because there were times where you thought all of a sudden that this season might run away from us and it never did. What about this club gives you confidence about its ability to play deep into October?

Mozeliak: I just think it's well-balanced. When I say that, I don't mean just from a talent standpoint. I also mean from an experience standpoint. Teams are always trying to find a way to blend experience and youth together, and we continue to do that. This is the first time in franchise history that the Cardinals have qualified for the postseason for four straight years. Do you see that success as a nod to the organization's philosophy of the last decade?

Mozeliak: From (principal owner) Bill DeWitt (Jr.) on down, that has always been our goal. He made a real conscious effort to help us look at our long-term strategy from a baseball standpoint. When you think about getting to the postseason four years in a row, it's really a compliment from A to Z in your organization because it's not just one thing. That's showing consistent performance. That's showing that at every level you're getting positive production.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.