"Our approach right now is wait and see," said general manager John Mozeliak. "We were aggressive early and had some things to show for it. We made offers (during the winter meetings) and didn't get much response. We tried those approaches. Now we have an opportunity here to step back -- to step back and see where the market goes next and what makes the most sense for us."
The Cardinals tired of waiting for a response to their two-year offer for free agent reliever Brian Fuentes, and it is believed the Cardinals ultimately withdrew that offer. Mozeliak said only that there had been "very little dialogue" with Fuentes' representatives.
Even with the All-Star Game coming to St. Louis in July, the Cardinals are preparing for the fact they might not draw three million fans to Busch Stadium for the first time since it opened in 2006.
Club president Bill DeWitt III, who had suggested the payroll might go higher this year, said of the club's stance, "I would categorize it as a slight shift. We can no longer look at 3.2 (million in attendance) as a lock and a growing payroll as a lock. The economy has gotten a lot worse, and we don't want to be caught unprepared."
Not that the Cardinals haven't tried to make more of a splash. They explored a trade for Colorado All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday, who then went to Oakland.
"We wanted to address our immediate needs," Mozeliak said. "We needed a lefty reliever, and we did that. We needed a shortstop, and we did that. We always want to be as opportunistic as we can be (but) we also want to position ourselves to have some flexibility going into '09. A deal, right now, would have to be compelling, so compelling that we couldn't walk away from it."
NOTES AND QUOTES
--Still seeking starting pitching, the Cardinals are looking in the direction of free agents such as LHPs Oliver Perez and Randy Wolf but could be content to see what shakes loose in spring training.
--LHP Katsuhiko Maekawa was signed to a minor league contract. Maekawa, 30, was 31-45 with a 5.26 for his career in Japan.
--RHP Kyle Lohse will get a night start whenever possible this season. While going 4-5 by day with a 4.75 ERA in 15 starts last year, Lohse was 11-1, 2.97 in 18 starts at night.
--The club will not play a game on artificial turf again next season. The Cardinals' interleague road games are at Kansas City and Cleveland, both of which have grass fields.
--World Series combatants Philadelphia and Tampa Bay both will pay rare visits to play the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., next spring. The Cardinals have played the Devil Rays only once in the exhibition season, and that was at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., 11 years ago.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Number of bunt hits by the Cardinals last season. Five of those were by SS Cezar Izturis (two), no longer with the club, and INF Aaron Miles (three), who wasn't tendered a contract.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We need to be careful because maybe everything is rosy, but if it's not, we have to build in some flexibility. It's the team that has the dry powder that will ultimately get the benefit of this market. ... From that standpoint, we want to be in great position to take advantage." -- Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III on the club's stance of waiting until the financial climate changes before making any broad expenditures.