LAS VEGAS -- Shedding a recent reputation as a deliberate team in Hot Stove dealings, the Cardinals arrive at the Bellagio for baseball's annual Winter Meetings with some momentum already built up. St. Louis has achieved two major goals already, adding a shortstop and a left-handed reliever.
Now the Cardinals turn their attentions to the two areas that have caused fans the most angst this offseason: the starting rotation and the ninth inning. It's not a given that they'll head home on Thursday with either situation addressed, but they're going to try.
"I do think where we are today is a better situation than where we were [earlier in the week]," general manager John Mozeliak said at the end of a busy week. "But I still think we have to look at ways to improve this team. My mindset right now is that it's probably going to be a heavy focus on pitching."
Of course, the Winter Meetings aren't just about player movement. They're essentially the annual convention for the baseball industry, with meetings of every group from traveling secretaries to athletic trainers to baseball writers.
And then there are the Hall of Fame announcements -- three this year. On Monday at noon CT, the Hall will announce the results of its Veterans Committee voting, which may open the doors to former Cardinals Joe Torre, Jim Kaat and Dick Allen.
On Tuesday, the Hall's Ford Frick Award winner, recognizing greatness in broadcasting, will be announced. Former Cardinal Dizzy Dean, already in the Hall as a player, is one of 10 finalists for the Frick Award. And Wednesday brings the announcement of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for a baseball writer.
Additionally, Major League Baseball will make an announcement regarding the 2009 World Baseball Classic on Wednesday. Thursday, the last day of the meetings, brings the Rule 5 Draft.
Still, the main thing the Meetings conjure, to most fans, is the apex of Hot Stove business. And the Cardinals would love to be in the middle of it.
Things like a second left-handed reliever and a second baseman appear to be more back-burner issues at this point. The Cardinals need rotation depth, even with Friday's good news on Chris Carpenter. And they have uncertainty as far as a closer, though they have a number of candidates in-house. So they'll look at at the options, and hope to make an addition in one of those two areas.
"I don't know how the free-agent market is going to completely unfold, and I'm still not ignoring the trade market," Mozeliak said. "I think there's two avenues that we still need to look at. ... I think that old axiom, you can never have enough pitching, is something that we have to keep in the back of our minds and not forget."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.