A History Lesson in Vengeance

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After much thought from the news reports and articles in regards to a St. Louis Cardinals front office personnel  hacking into Jeff Luhnow’s computer for information, it dawned on me I remember the problems that were occurring back in 2007. This is a story about two very smart business savvy baseball executives. The St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak came to the Cardinals in 1995 as an assistant to the scouting department, this is also the same year the Cardinals hired Walt Jocketty as there new GM.  In 1996 the Cardinals hired Tony LaRussa as the manager. Soon after Mozeliak moved up in the ranks as an assistant to the GM,  In 1998 he became the assistant scouting director and then promoted to scouting director and oversaw the drafting of Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina] He garnered much attention as a major up-and-coming GM in the industry and interviewed with the Reds and the Astros. In 2003 Jeff Luhnow was hired to work in the front office to  run DeWitt’s team in a more analytical, data-driven manner. It was the hiring of  Luhnow as Vice President in 2003 that initially raised eyebrows, Luhnow had no baseball background but was able to make a big splash with the Cardinals farm system. Luhnow established a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and extended the Cardinals’ scouting in Venezula. The Cardinals promoted him in 2005 to the role of Vice President of Player Procurement, which made him the director of amateur, international and domestic scouting. He was named Vice President of Scouting and Player Development in 2006.

During his time with the Cardinals, he developed a reputation for scouting and player development, and he is credited with having a key role in the team’s successes in the minor leagues. The Cardinals won five minor league championships under his watch, and had the best system-wide minor league record in 2010. From 2005 to 2007, the first three Cardinals drafts overseen by Luhnow produced 24 future major leaguers. With Luhnow having more power over the past few years, and he’s often seen as a trusted advisor to Cardinals ownership.

This has, naturally, created the perception of a divide in the orgnaization. Jocketty, LaRussa, and Duncan are all old school, despite their ties to the A’s organization, and they’ve garnered significant success through traditional evaluative methods. They are among the most respected men in the game. Luhnow’s group is far more aggressive in adding new evaluative techniques to the organization and approaches the game from a very different direction than the Jocketty guys. At this point Jocketty was very unhappy but did not regard Luhnow as an imminent threat to his job, but Luhnow’s promotion led to the reassignment of Jocketty’s longtime friend and confidant Bruce Manno and has been the source of tension in the team’s baseball operation. The relationship between Jocketty and Luhnow is so chilly, assistant general manager John Mozeliak has to serve as a buffer between them. In 2007 tragedy struck when pitcher Josh Hancock died in a car accident in which he had a  high alcohol blood level. Later in the season Juan Encarnacion was struck in the eye and severely injured with a foul ball. Encarnacion was diagnosed with severe injuries to his left eye and multiple fractures of the orbital bone. The injury ended his season and career but the big blow was Walt Jocketty getting fired because of emphasis of baseball operations to statistical analysis. In announcing he was parting ways with Jocketty – under whose stewardship the Cardinals had gone to the postseason five times in the last seven years, twice to the World Series and winning it all just last year – DeWitt cited an irreconcilable division within the Cardinals’ front office. But it was a division DeWitt created when he promoted Luhnow one of the new-wave stat practitioners, as head of both player development and scouting. Jocketty viewed that as a usurping of his powers – especially since Luhnow clearly had the chairman’s ear – and let it be known to his friends and associates that he was not comfortable with the new arrangement. The new GM was not going to be Jeff Luhnow, it was given to John Mozeliak. I think the GM was never meant for Luhnow, it was for Mozeliak. What I am getting at is the person/persons behind  the hacking I believe is a part of the old regime that still dislikes Luhnow and Mozeliak. This is probably a person that has been around when Jocketty and LaRussa was at the helm. It was a known fact that the old regime would rather get a veteran player than bring up a rookie and when a rookie was brought he sure didn’t stay long. As we wait for the FBI to release the findings of their investigation we need to remember that the St..Louis Cardinals are and will remain a very classy organization.

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