ST. LOUIS — During John Mozeliak's six-year reign, the Cardinals general manager has traded popular center fielder Jim Edmonds, held firm in his contract offer that resulted in slugger Albert Pujols' leaving, and sent perennial prospect Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the revamping of a roster that essentially helped the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series.
As daring and as successful as those decisions were, Mozeliak's decision not to acquire a veteran starting pitcher or a seasoned shortstop has helped the Cardinals' long-term future remain promising.
As for the present, Mozeliak's faith in his team's youth remains intact as the Cardinals will try to take a lead Saturday night in Game 3 of the World Series at Busch Stadium.
"Nobody knows our organization better than Mo," first baseman Allen Craig said. "He knows the talent we have. He knows the guys he's looking for to step up in big spots. And I think you can see that with the young guys on the mound. We got Carlos Martinez as our eighth-inning guy and [Trevor] Rosenthal as our closer. Look at what Michael Wacha has done in the playoffs. Mo had a good idea [that] those guys were going to be successful."
Mozeliak, 44, and his scouting and player development departments currently have mastered the art of winning and developing major league-ready talent, such as Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Martinez and Wacha.
"You realize [they] are special resources and not easy to find," said Mozeliak, who began his career in the Colorado Rockies organization 20 years ago and joined the Cardinals two years later in the scouting department. "To be flipping them for some short-term gain in early July doesn't make sense to me. I understand everyone has to make different decisions along the way.
"I felt at some point, these guys were going to help our club this year. Certainly we did feel we had some needs, but the cost of improving didn't make sense."
Considering the Cardinals missed advancing to the World Series by one game last October, the decision to sit tight seemed like a risk. And it didn't help that shortstop, one of the areas that was under scrutiny in July, was flawed Wednesday in Game 1 when Pete Kozma made the first of two errors that led to three runs in the first inning of an 8-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
But Mozeliak's faith was validated in Game 2 when Wacha, Martinez and Rosenthal shut down the Red Sox in a 4-2 win.
One of Mozeliak's biggest decisions was replacing successful manager Tony La Russa with unproven Mike Matheny after the 2011 season, but Matheny has continued the Cardinals' success.
"Mike understood the culture of this organization and wanted to keep it going," Mozeliak said. "Obviously, replacing someone like Tony La Russa isn't easy, and one thing you have to admire about Mike is that he came in here with great respect for his predecessor, for the past, but he also wanted to put his fingerprints on this team and this organization."