MLB: Rating the front offices of the NL Central

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals

John Mozeliak, president of baseball ops; Mike Girsch, GM: -3.9

The Cardinal front office is legendary for its efficiency, but 2020 threw obstacles in the Cardinals’ way that even Mozeliak-Girsch couldn’t overcome.

Forced in part by the team’s two-week run-in with COVID-19, the Cardinals’ personnel changes involved 34 players who affected the fortunes of the 2020 club. Several were called up or brought down three or four times. But only seven of those players generated positive value for the Cardinals; 21 turned negative.

The Cards’ fate was foreshadowed when they extended pitcher Miles Mikolas for four years at $68 million back in February of 2019. That deal began in 2020, but by then Mikolas had gone under the knife, a surgery that took him out of the picture for the full season.

That, COVID and unrelated events forced Mozeliak-Girsch to lean more heavily on their farm system. The Cardinals employed a remarkable 18 rookies in 2020, only one of whom generated positive value to the team…and that positive value was a fractional +0.1.

The sum total of the rookies’ impact on St. Louis’ standing was -4.5 WAA.

Statistically, the one saving grace was St. Louis’ signing of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to a five-year extension, another move dating back to March of 2019 but whose impact didn’t begin until 2020. Goldschmidt returned to his Arizona form, batting .304 with a 142 OPS+. That translated to +1.2 WAA.

Here is the annual short-term performance rating of the Cardinals front office since the Girsch-Mozeliak tandem was put in place prior to the 2018 season:

  • 2018:     – 2.4X
  • 2019:     +4.5
  • 2020:     -3.9

XThis was a greater negative impact than the margin by which the Cardinals failed to qualify for post-season play.