The Cardinals opened Thursday with a $107.5 million payroll, a franchise record for the start of a season. The figure, according to general manager John Mozeliak, should not be construed as inability to adjust over the next six months.
At the same time, Mozeliak allowed the club does not see an available answer to any of its perceived needs.
"I just don’t feel like there’s anything out there at the moment that’s going to make us that much better," Mozeliak elaborated. "Right now we have flexibility with our bullpen – I probably should say our roster – if we needed to do things. We have that ability."
The San Francisco Giants earlier this week released swing man and two-time former Cardinal Jeff Suppan; however, the 2006 NLCS MVP failed to stir significant local interest. The Cardinals picked up Suppan as a starting pitcher last summer after the Milwaukee Brewers released him.
The Cardinals this spring embraced October waiver claim Bryan Augenstein in the long relief role previously held by Blake Hawksworth. The Cardinals haven’t defined how far they might expand payroll this season, but it is believed they have the ability to push beyond $110 million.
"You use it when you think you need it," Mozeliak said. "Right now there’s really not a lot of options out there to be chasing."
Of the Cardinals’ season-opening payroll figure, Mozeliak said it squared with a projection made by himself and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. shortly after last season. "It was all about allocation. Both Bill and I realized it was going to take a large investment to change the dynamics of what we were doing."
Lohse has rough outing
Deeming it both unsightly and unofficial, Monday’s scheduled starter Kyle Lohse allowed six runs in five innings Wednesday in a game against Florida Marlins minor-leaguers at Roger Dean Stadium. Lohse also surrendered a grand slam and his first walk of the spring, though in a game not counted in Grapefruit League action. Lohse called the outing "ugly" and said his pitching line "pretty much told it all." Coming off a camp in which he allowed only a 1.88 ERA while striking out 15 without a walk in 24 innings, he was able to keep the outing in perspective.
"It’s been awhile since I came in knowing I can execute the game plan that we set out," Lohse offered before Thursday’s pre-game festivities. "Obviously you have to make adjustments and stuff, but it’s been awhile where I can honestly sit there confidently knowing I can make the pitches I need to make for however long I’m out there."
K-Rob on Board as Scout
The Cardinals have hired former outfielder Kerry Robinson as a professional scout and coordinator for their recently implemented major-league video scouting. Robinson, who last played for the Cardinals in 2003 and in the major leagues in 2006, will scout the Kansas City Royals and their minor-league affiliates while performing most of his video scouting from his Ballwin home.
"I let Mo know I was interested in coming back last summer," Robinson said. "He let me know there was a position they were thinking about adding to their staff. It seemed like the perfect spot to get back in the game."
Robinson attended scout school in Arizona in 2007 and had waited for an opportunity in professional rather than amateur scouting.
Franklin no longer using social media
Closer Ryan Franklin has shut down his popular Twitter site due to a combination of security and professional concerns. Franklin quickly built a following with his irreverent and humorous correspondence during spring training but thought extending the practice into the regular season might offer the wrong impression.
"This is our job now. Spring training is a little bit more laid back. This is our livelihood and what they pay us for right now. We can’t create a distraction with something," he said.
Manager Tony La Russa, left fielder Matt Holliday and outfielder Jon Jay retain Twitter accounts, though Holliday has not corresponded since last spring and La Russa is only an occasional contributor, often on behalf of his Animal Rescue Foundation. Jay remains very active.
Franklin also became concerned about identity theft after attending a MLB Security presentation during spring training. He said he also wanted to avoid an untoward exchange. "There’s times you get knuckleheads coming after you," Franklin said. "It’s not that you feel obligated to reply but you want to. I know I can get mad and say the wrong thing. Then it’s a bigger deal."
Former Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds threw out Thursday’s first pitch to first baseman Albert Pujols. Edmonds’ young son, Landon, also participated in the ceremony with a toss to Pujols. The club had hoped to make Edmonds available to media during the game but the retired Redbird failed to materialize. ... Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III cited several changes to Busch Stadium that include the addition of about 100 seats in front of a photographer well on the park’s first-base side and renovation to the Redbirds Club. The team also installed a large depiction of a Ford pickup grill as in-park advertising. Due to chromework on the faux grill, the display remained covered for much of the afternoon game ... Mozeliak said he now believes infielder Nick Punto may be available to the club by late April. Punto was officially placed on the disabled list Thursday as he continues to rehab from February surgery to repair a sports hernia ... Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin left the game with leg cramps after reaching second base on an 11th-inning single and error that scored the eventual winning run ... Center fielder Colby Rasmus improved to 6-for-12 with a home run, two RBIs and five runs in scored on opening day. Rasmus is in his third season with the Cardinals ... Lance Berkman contributed two hits and scored a run in his Cardinals debut before being replaced by Jon Jay as part of a ninth-inning double switch ... Governor Jay Nixon attended the game and worked the press box for several innings.