Cards to survey talent before spending

Cards to survey talent before spending

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals will be keeping their powder dry for now, but maybe not for long.

General manager John Mozeliak explained that while the club has no plans to make any additions before camp opens in Jupiter, Fla., things can and probably will change during Spring Training. The Cardinals aren't holding onto money for a midseason trade as much as they are for an acquisition during camp.

That would fit with recent behavior by St. Louis. In each of the past two years, the Cardinals have signed a free agent during the spring: Kyle Lohse in 2008 and Dennys Reyes in 2009.

"I don't know what our greatest need is today," Mozeliak said. "As we move forward and get into spring, we should have a better idea of what that might be. It may be nothing. But it usually is always something and more than something."

It would appear that the club has about $6-7 million in wiggle room within a projected $100 million budget for player salaries. Another year of greater-than-expected attendance, meanwhile, could provide some additional leeway as the season goes on. But in the absence of such a surfeit, that $6-7 million needs to last the club not only until Spring Training starts, but until Opening Day, the non-waiver Trade Deadline and the end of the year.

It's not just about money, though. In fact, Mozeliak argues that financial considerations aren't even the primary motivation. Instead, the Cardinals want to spend the early portion of camp getting a better look at what they have, and allowing young players to receive innings and at-bats for evaluation.

As it becomes clearer to the front office what the team needs and what areas are in good shape, it will be easier to make decisions as to acquisitions.

"If we were to fill [spots] today, that might take some opportunities away from some of the players that we want to make sure get their opportunities," Mozeliak said.

The Cardinals have several potential needs, including left-handed bench help, outfield depth and possibly bullpen depth.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.