ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are committing additional years to their baseball operations leadership, hoping that continuity and stability lead to growth and continued success for the organization.
During a press conference at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. announced that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, general manager Mike Girsch and manager Mike Shildt will all receive new terms and extensions on their contracts.
“What Mo and his group have accomplished since he took over is pretty impressive,” DeWitt said. “We’re very happy to have continuity here with our baseball operations and look forward to great success in the future.”
Mozeliak has led the baseball operations department since 2007 and will be in St. Louis for at least another four years, as his new contract added three years onto the one that was going to expire after 2020. Under Mozeliak’s leadership, the Cardinals have never had a losing season and have been to the postseason seven of the 12 years.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on here,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously on a personal level, excited to know that I’ll be part of the organization for four more years, and I feel like we are positioned to have continued success. Very fortunate to work with Mike Girsch. … The relationship we have, the relationship we have with people working with us, is something that continues to get stronger. We continue to have more confidence in our decision making and what that looks like, and that’s our responsibility.”
The Cardinals exercised Girsch’s option for 2020 and added another two years onto the contract. Girsch was named general manager in 2017 and has been a member of the Cardinals organization since 2006.
“I want to echo the thanking to ownership for the opportunity to grow what we’re doing in the front office to keep the stability together and expand what we’re working on,” Girsch said.
Shildt, who is a finalist for the National League Manager of the Year Award, had a new contract written for three years, extending through 2022. Shildt took over as the interim manager in '18, then signed a two-year contract later that season. In his first full year as the manager, he guided the Cardinals to a National League Central championship and back to the postseason for the first time since '15.
The Cardinals also announced that the entire coaching staff under Shildt will return for 2020. This includes hitting coach Jeff Albert, first-base coach Stubby Clapp, bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd, assistant hitting coach Jobel Jimenez, pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach Ollie Marmol, third-base coach Pop Warner and assistant coach Willie McGee.
Despite the inconsistency of the offense this year, the Cardinals are confident that Albert’s coaching philosophy -- which focuses on analytics, video and controlling the strike zone -- will help develop the young hitters the team has and make the offense more effective in Albert’s first full year within the organization. The Major League coaching staff will meet next week to build an offseason strategy with a large focus on the offense, similar to last year’s focus on defense and baserunning. Shildt and his staff turned around the performance in both of those fundamental areas, and the Cardinals believe they can do the same with the offense.
“I think everyone that sits up here is still very excited about what Jeff brings to the table,” Mozeliak said. “His philosophy, but also how he teaches, is very important to long-term success. One of the key things I’ll remind everybody about when we hired Jeff Albert was having the overarching strategy throughout our system, and I still think he’ll be very much a part of that.
“He’s just someone who understands modern technology, understands modern analytics and he understands how to bake that into his teaching strategy. I’m not saying that everyone will hear what he has to say, and part of what he has to do is adjust in his messaging. But the way he looks at the world is in a lot of ways what we wanted to see happen as we move forward.”
Additionally, the Cardinals promoted Jeremy Cohen to the director of baseball development, Kevin Seats to baseball analytics director, Patrick Casanta to systems director, Matt Bayer to project director, Javier Duren to coordinator of technology and innovation and Tyler Hadzinsky to assistant director of scouting.
The contract extensions all revolved around a key theme that the Cardinals hoped to address: continuity, from the front office into the clubhouse. As they turn toward a more analytic philosophy, they want leadership to be able to put a plan in place and develop it. The contract extensions for Mozeliak, Girsch and Shildt, as well as shuffling around the operations department to make room for new hires, helps do that.
The timing is important, too, given the Cardinals are looking toward 2020 and with roster complexity and payroll limitations that come with it. Committing additional years to baseball operations leadership gives the Cardinals more time to build for coming years.