President of baseball operations John Mozeliak firing manager Mike Shildt over “philosophical differences” about the team's future was a head-scratcher.
Mozeliak saddled the team with bad contracts that created dead payroll and limited its flexibility. He sent Shildt into the season with poor depth and an awful Triple-A team at Memphis to draw from.
Mozeliak was slow to act when injuries crushed the starting rotation. He never found somebody better than hapless Matt Carpenter for that key bench role.
But the front office did have a great second half. The Cardinals found significant pitching help in Wade LeBlanc, T.J. McFarland and Luis Garcia by working the margins. They spent middling assets (John Gant and Lane Thomas) to get helpful starting pitchers J.A. Happ and Jon Lester. They wisely held on to their top prospects and still ended up with a playoff team, albeit for just a few hours. Lars Nootbaar’s arrival and a big finish from Jose Rondon solved some of the team’s depth problem.