CHICAGO • It became official Sunday that Dan Haren will not be joining the Cardinals.
Unofficially, the same may be true regarding Roy Oswalt.
Shortly after the Los Angeles Angels announced their acquisition of Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for four pitchers, general manager John Mozeliak dampened expectations of a major pitching move in the Cardinals' near future.
Mozeliak described any move as "certainly not imminent at this time," then hinted that the market may be too steep to find any significant upgrade for the rotation. He relayed the sentiment after a brief dugout meeting with manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.
"At this point, it's entirely possible that there may not be a deal out there" for pitching, Mozeliak said. "We're continuing to explore avenues, but as we speak I can't say I'm encouraged."
On Saturday Oswalt reiterated his wish to be dealt to St. Louis to at least one Cardinals player. However, Oswalt's willingness to restructure a $16 million option for 2012 may not overcome the Astros' steep asking price in personnel. One club official senses squeamishness by Astros management to deal Oswalt within the division.
The Cardinals' stipulation that the Astros assume at least a portion of the $32 million due Oswalt the next two seasons offers a further complication.
With Haren off the market and Oswalt apparently too pricey, the Cardinals must avail themselves of a secondary market that may offer little upgrade over a recovered Kyle Lohse. The Cleveland Indians' Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona are examples of such pitchers, along with the Cubs' Ted Lilly and Baltimore Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie. Another potential candidate, Oakland A's oft-injured veteran Ben Sheets, is out with an elbow condition and may miss the remainder of the season.
Lohse, out since May 22 with a forearm problem that required surgery five days later, begins a rehab assignment tonight at Class AAA Memphis that he hopes will allow his return to the active roster early next month.
Mozeliak offered less optimism regarding Brad Penny's availability. Sidelined following an abortive simulated game in Colorado on July 6, Penny has not thrown since.
Mozeliak said he has no idea when Penny might resume a throwing program but admitted that he believes Penny's season over if he has not made significant progress within three or four weeks.