Cards GM says Rasmus won't be traded
Mozeliak also talks payroll, La Russa at Social Media Night
ST. LOUIS -- Speaking at the Cardinals' first Social Media Night on Thursday night, general manager John Mozeliak told fans that the club has no interest in trading Colby Rasmus, that he expects payroll to go up in the next three years and that he hopes to have some resolution regarding manager Tony La Russa's status early in the winter.
Mozeliak addressed a crowd of approximately 100 fans who purchased tickets through a Social Media Night promotion. Team president Bill DeWitt III also spoke, as did some members of the local sports media, as well as prominent figures in St. Louis social media. Mozeliak answered questions that fans sent in via Twitter as well as taking some questions from the audience.
Asked about what positions he felt could be upgraded for 2011, Mozeliak declined to name any specifics, other than to say that the Cardinals need to improve their offense. He did refer to catcher, first base, left field and center field as "locked" positions, an unsurprising statement that Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Rasmus figure in the team's plans for next year.
In response to a separate question about Rasmus, he spoke more forcefully regarding the status of the young outfielder. Rasmus requested a trade earlier this season, but has since said that he's happy in St. Louis.
"A lot of times players, out of frustration or for whatever reason, may go into a meeting and come out saying some things they may regret," Mozeliak said. "But a lot of times, you have to understand, these things never get out there. In this particular case, it's been festering for a while. But I can assure you, Colby's not going to be traded. I can also assure you that some of the things he's dealing with are typical growing pains that young players go through. When I look at the talent he brings to the table, and when I think about how I could replace that, I realize that would be a very difficult task ahead."
Asked about whether the team's player payroll might move upward from its current position around $100 million, Mozeliak said that he expects that to happen.
"When I think of payroll right now, I always think in that kind of $95 to $105 [million] range type thing -- it just depends on what the makeup of the club looks like," Mozeliak said. "When I look at '11, '12, '13, I do anticipate that we probably will have some kind of incremental increase, just to continue to make sure that we can support the current club we have, and knowing that we have to reallocate some of our resources to the payroll. So I do envision that going up at some point, yes."
And as for La Russa, Mozeliak said that he hopes to have the manager's situation sorted out sooner than later. Asked whether there would be a timetable established, Mozeliak said there would be.
"The answer is going to be yes," he said. "In terms of what that looks like today, I'm not sure. One of the things we want to make sure we do is we answer this question sooner than later. Because if we have to go out and look for a manager, it's a lot of time, you've got to spend a lot of resources. ... We want to make sure we get this team right. So we're going to be aggressive on both fronts [manager and the roster]. I don't know where Tony's head is on this, but after this season ends I'll go out to dinner with him one night and we'll talk about it. Hopefully we'll have the answer quick, though."
Cardinals promote Vuch to farm director
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals shook up their Minor League operations on Thursday, promoting John Vuch to farm director among a host of other moves.
Vuch, who had been second in command in the player development ranks, will take some responsibilities from vice president of player procurement Jeff Luhnow. Before the moves, Luhnow had served as both the director of amateur scouting and the farm director. Now those roles will be split into two jobs, a more common arrangement than to have both hats worn by the same person.
"It really frees Jeff up to do more on the scouting side, really bear down on the amateur scouting," Vuch said. "It allows me to take advantage of my connections with the Minor League staff and my relationships there with those guys. I think it will increase communication within the department. One thing that I've always been a big believer in is the fundamentals, stressing playing the game the right way and doing the things that [George] Kissell and Ricketts and Hub Kittle and all those guys taught."
While the club was careful not to couch the moves as a demotion for Luhnow, the truth is that some of Luhnow's influence over operations will be diminished by the move. He remains in control of the drafting arm of the organization, but Vuch will have a more direct hand in how Minor League players are developed.
Vuch's goals include further standardization of instructional methods throughout the Minor Leagues while also increasing coordination between player development and the Major League field staff. The latter area has been a bone of contention at times in recent years, but Vuch is one of the most popular, best-regarded people in the organization. Manager Tony La Russa endorsed his promotion on Thursday afternoon.
"Oh yeah," La Russa said. "It's well deserved."
Said Vuch, "I talked with Tony, I talked with [pitching coach Dave Duncan]. I talked with the Major League staff. And I think that's important. Our goal in the Minor Leagues is to produce Major League-ready players, and guys that can contribute at the Major League level. I think it's silly not to do things the way they want them done on the big league level."
In addition to promoting Vuch, the Cardinals made several other moves as well on Thursday. Michael Elias has been promoted to manager of amateur scouting. Matt Carroll, the club's manager of professional scouting, will assume area scouting responsibilities for the St. Louis region and will also take on some amateur scouting duties. Special assistants to the general manager Gary LaRocque and Matt Slater will have added responsibilities as well. LaRocque will serve as senior adviser to player development, working closely with Vuch, and Slater will add amateur scouting and international scouting to his areas of evaluation.
Chris Carpenter checked out fine on Thursday, a day after he was removed from the Cardinals' loss to the Cubs due to cramping in his right hamstring. Carpenter remains on track to make his next scheduled start, Monday at the Marlins. ... Manager Tony La Russa said he doesn't have any more information regarding when Ryan Franklin might return to the team. Franklin has returned home to Oklahoma to tend to what the club is calling a personal matter. ... Tyler Greene made his third start at third base this year on Thursday night.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.