That's partly because general manager John Mozeliak was trying to make a major move to fortify the bullpen corps. The Cardinals focused heavily on Colorado's Brian Fuentes, but couldn't come to terms with the Rockies on a deal that both clubs felt made sense.
"In the end, it was just something where we couldn't get to an agreement," Mozeliak said. "Nor do I know if they were going to move him or not in the final hours [for any package of talent]. That's where a lot of the energy was spent. ... We're always looking at ways to improve. But it's just not something that we could get done."
Mozeliak asserted repeatedly before the Deadline that the cost of doing business seemed prohibitively high, and he never saw those prices come down. Tellingly, only one left-handed relief pitcher, Arthur Rhodes, changed hands on Thursday, indicating that Mozeliak wasn't the only one who felt that perhaps sellers were asking for a bit too much.
Members of the Cards' front office feel that with the additions of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, their roster will be drastically fortified in the coming weeks even without a deal. Carpenter returned Wednesday after missing a season and a half due to an elbow injury, and Wainwright is progressing in his return from a finger injury.
"I really think our 'something' looks like Carpenter, Wainwright, and currently we're looking at [rookie Jaime Garcia] in a reliever role," Mozeliak said. "When we started looking at what was out there, we saw marginal, incremental benefit from some of these left-handers that were being touted."
Still, pressure was heavy from fans for the Cardinals to make some move to improve a club that entered Thursday in a virtual tie for the National League Wild Card lead. The St. Louis bullpen has struggled in 2008, with 23 relief losses (tied for most in the Majors) and 25 blown saves (most in the bigs).
In particular, the club has sought lefty relief help since the beginning of the season. With Randy Flores optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, the need became even more glaring. But no deal materialized, with nearly all of the Cards' potential targets -- Brian Fuentes, George Sherrill, Ron Mahay, Will Ohman and John Grabow, to name a few -- staying put.
"I was optimistic that we would likely do something," Mozeliak said. "I will say, though, as the clock started to tick, more so yesterday than at any time in the process, I lost a little bit of that."
So the Cards will turn their attention to waiver deals. Between now and the end of August, players can still be traded. However, they must first pass through waivers before a deal can be completed.
Leading up to his first Trade Deadline as general manager, Mozeliak did complete one deal, but it was of the minor variety. On Saturday, St. Louis sent Triple-A pitcher Anthony Reyes to Cleveland for Double-A reliever Luis Perdomo.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.