QUESTION: What were your biggest takeaways from the end-of-season Cardinals media availability?
BENFRED: Running through my notes, these comments from Mo jumped out:
• 88 wins was not good enough. Mozeliak hardly ever talks about other teams, but admitted the division is not getting any easier and that it's going to take "both investment and intelligence" to get "over the hump"
• "For two years I told all of you it wasn't a loss, but it's a loss." — Mo on the loss of Oquendo.
• Mark Budaska stays as assistant hitting coach — that's a big win in my opinion.
• The hunt is on for a middle of the order bat. Preferably lefthanded, though the team is being coy about that. Mo said the lineup "missed that hitter." Said he wants to "find some way to strengthen the lineup on a regular basis."
• I would not bank on changes at second base, shortstop, catcher, left field or center.
• Left side of the bullpen needs help. Would not be shocked if Cecil is gone somehow before next season. No surprise there.
• Mo finally vented a bit on the Ozuna shoulder issue. Said you can't lead someone to water. Ozuna was the intro to an increased accountability this offseason that will require with needed improvements and attention (be it baseball related or health) are going to be monitored more closely. Sounds like surgery is off the table for Ozuna for now and this will come down to rehab. He has a doctor's appointment at the end of the month that could change that.
• Alex Reyes is being prepared as a starter and should be ready by the start of the season -- unless there is another setback. That's significant.
• Dakota Hudson is a starter for now.