The Cardinals announced today that they have signed General Manager John Mozeliak to a three year extension that will run through the 2016 season. Also, they have picked up the option year on Mike Matheny‘s contract which keeps him the skipper of the team through 2014.
Mozeliak inherited a 78 win team in 2007, a team that was mostly aging stars on offense and was missing Chris Carpenter. Since then, the team has had five straight winning seasons, one of just two teams to have accomplished that (Yankees being the other). His teams have also gone to two straight National League Championship Series’ and the future still seems as bright as ever.
Matheny will be entering his sophomore season as manager and led the team to an 88-74 record last season. He managed a team that lost Albert Pujols to free agency, as well as Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman for most of the year with injury and still finished just two games worse than the Cardinals’ did the year before. He also had the Cardinals one win away from a second straight World Series trip. Continue reading
No, not the Jesus Montero who was a Baseball America top-10 prosect for the Yankees and then traded to the Mariners. That’s his older brother. No, really. We’ve got the little brother. This Jesus Montero, 21, signed with the Cardinals in 2007 as a free agent out of Venezuela.
Being just 21, Montero still has plenty time to develop his tools. Last year he split time between Quad Cities and Batavia and put together a combined line of .287/.360/.434, 4 HR, and 25 RBI in 43 games. Though he struggled in his 10 games in Quad Cities. He shows some defensive ability, throwing out 37% of base stealers in his minor league career. He was also a New York Penn league All Star last year.
This will be his fourth year playing in the US after two years playing in the Venezuelan Summer League and then a year in the Dominican Summer League. If he can keep up those hitting numbers, it should only be a matter of time before he breaks a major league roster. But he’s done all that at A ball and below. His real litmus test is yet to come.
The Cardinals’ 6th round pick of the 2011 MLB Draft was catcher Adam Ehrlich. Ehrlich, who turned 20 in December, has yet to jump above rookie ball. He put up impressive numbers last season though, posting a line of .329/.404/.409 with 1 HR and 14 RBI in 42 games.
Now that can mean a few things from he is highly skilled to him simply being more advanced than the pitchers he was facing. All that is possible, but some still say that he may be the best catching prospect in the Cardinals’ system. Scout.com ranked him as the #34 prospect for the organization.
While his bat may still be suspect (I read that his BABIP last year was .400), being in big league camp and getting the opportunity to catch some veteran pitchers can only be a benefit for him. Hopefully he’s got his eyes open, watching and learning from the other catchers who are in camp.
You can find Adam on Twitter at @BigAEhrlich.
Audry Perez signed with the Cardinals in March 2008 as an undrafted free agent from the Dominican Republic. He took off with a boom, hitting .322 in the Dominican Summer League in his first season with the organization.
Perez, 24, moved on to Johnson City in 2009, hitting .258. Then to Batavia in 2010 where things clicked and he posted a .315 batting average in easily his best season in the US. In 2011 he split time between Palm Beach and Springfield, hitting .269 with 11 HR and 47 RBI in 81 games.
In 2012, he was he primary catcher at Springfield for the Cardinals, catching 81 games. His .263/.281/.346 slash line leaves plenty to be desired at the plate, but he appears to be a strong defender, throwing out 42% of would be base stealers last season. Most recently, Scout.com put him as the organization’s #38 prospect.
Perez gets the invite to spring training because of the catching workload early in camp. He will likely return to Springfield for 2013. With many major league teams putting a premium on a catcher’s ability to defensively play the position and manage a game, Perez may have a future on a big league squad somewhere. But it will be for that and not his bat.
Justin Robert Towles, or better known as J.R. Towles, is probably best known to Cardinals’ fans as the backup catcher for the Houston Astros. Despite being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and 2003, Towles returned to school until drafted by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2004 draft.
Towles’ highlight game came against the Cardinals on September 20, 2007, where he posted the Astros franchise record 8 RBI after being in the majors for all of about two weeks. That game included him hitting his first career home run off of Aaron Miles in an 18-1 blowout. From there, however, his career has struggled to take off.
He was expected to be the Astros’ primary backstop in 2008, but found himself headed to Triple-A by June after hitting .145 through the first two months of the season. He bounced back and forth for the rest of the season and then did so the next few years. After being cut loose by Houston after the 2011 season, he played last year for the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. He hit .214/.280/.315 in 52 games.
Towles isn’t expected to do much beyond minor league depth. He and Rob Johnson are likely to battle each other for the starting job in Memphis to fill a hole in the system. Both should be an advantage for the young pitching the Cardinals’ have.