President John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch have been a close-knit team running the St. Louis Cardinals since 2018. But they’ve never seen a season play out like the first half of this one.
The Cardinals are 33-47 through 80 games and in last place. In the power-starved NL Central, last place is an achievement, albeit a very negative one, and that goes double in St. Louis.
In fact, it’s the first time the Cardinals have been below third place this late in the season in the Mozeliak-Girsch tenure. And that raises a very obvious question for a team picked as the consensus pre-season division favorite; What’s happened?
Grading the St. Louis Cardinals at the midway point of the 2023 season
What follows is a mid-term assessment of the Cardinals’ personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the team’s performance.
The standard of measurement is Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by Mozeliak and Girsch impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved (or worsened) the team’s status this season.
A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:
1. By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.
2. By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.
3. By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.
4. By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.
5. By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.
Here’s how Mozeliak and Girsch stack up by those five yardsticks.