Patience St. Louis Cardinals Fans: Mozeliak Treads Softly, But Poised For Action

Peter FleischerSenior Writer IDecember 2, 2008

I was all ready for it.

The MLB off season was starting, and free agents were unleashed, with the freedom to sign with whoever they pleased.

But then...nothing happened. Especially with my Cardinals.

The baseball off season has been relatively quiet so far, but luckily, it's not like St. Louis is missing out on the action. Of ESPN's top 30 free agents, only two have signed (Ryan Dempster, Jeremy Affeldt), and one retired (Mike Mussina). Although I would have liked to see the Birds sign Affeldt, there have been no real losses on the market.

So what exactly have the Cardinals been up to? This week, they released eight free agents without offering arbitration. Those eight were: Russ Springer, Mark Mulder, Braden Looper, Ron Villone, Jason Isringhausen, Caesar Izturis, and Felipe Lopez.

As you can see, not a lot of critical parts were lost, and almost $40 million in salary was freed up. So where exactly are the Cardinals turning their attention as the hot stove in Major League Baseball gets turned up?

Lefty specialist Trevor Miller was essentially a Cardinal, but never actually signed a contract. Talks are still ongoing between Miller and the 'Birds, but it's unsure whether he'll still end up in St. Louis. Miller, who made 1.6 million last season and is a solid reliever, so he'd be a deal for the Cardinals if they could get him for under two million.

The Redbirds were also in talks with Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes was murder on lefties last year with a .194 batting average against, and would seemingly be a good fit in Tony La Russa's bullpen, where lefties often come up in situational appearances for a batter or two. And at anywhere near the one million he made last season, the Cards can definitely afford Rhodes.

But what about the middle infield? The biggest area of concern for the Cardinals hasn't been addressed yet this winter. Edgar Renteria is apparently not in the club's plans, and Rafael Furcal is seemingly too expensive. Essentially, nothing has been answered. It's still completely unknown what general manager John Mozeliak has in store.

The starting rotation picture is hazy as well. There is no word on the condition of Jaime Garcia, the young lefty prospect who made his debut at the major league level this last season who was battling shoulder issues, and the prognosis on Chris Carpenter is up for debate as well.

Mozeliak should have a much better idea of the health of his team as well as the direction that the market is heading in the upcoming weeks. Look for Miller and Rhodes to become the Redbirds' lefty side of the bullpen, as well as Izzy to possible get a small but incentive-laden offer.

Other than that, who knows Cardinal fans? Mozeliak surely has some surprising moves up his sleeves, and he knows that this is an important offseason for the ballclub. There is definitely excitement in store over the next few months.