DeRosa deal shows commitment to now

DeRosa deal shows commitment to now

ST. LOUIS -- By acquiring Mark DeRosa from the Indians on Saturday night, the Cardinals' front office sent a message that it views 2009 differently from 2008. General manager John Mozeliak made no bones about the fact that the trade addressed a short-term need with a potential long-term cost -- nor did he apologize for that fact.

"There are times when you have to react to situations that are about now," Mozeliak said of the deal that sent Chris Perez and a player to be named to Cleveland. "There are other times when you can have vision and look to long-term planning. One of the things that I get beat up a lot [about], and the organization does, is that we fail to make these shorter-term decisions. From where I stand, it's a great message to our fans and to our Major League players that we do care about today and we are focused on winning."

A year ago, St. Louis was in fact more hesitant to part with pieces of its future in order to win in the short term. This year things definitely look different.

"There's a good chance the organization is less surprised this year," manager Tony La Russa said. "How well the team competed last year was a little bit of a surprise to a lot of people, including our organization. ... I think there's more to bank on now, that these guys are good."

DeRosa played left field and batted cleanup in his first game in a Cardinals uniform, and received a hearty ovation from the Busch Stadium crowd. The St. Louis fan base had grown restless in recent months and years over what was perceived in some quarters as the club's unwillingness to move aggressively.

On Saturday, though, the Cardinals bucked that perception. Perez is under team control through the 2014 season, and he's considered to be a pitcher with a tremendous amount of potential. However, the club was struggling mightily against left-handed pitching and clearly needed an infusion of offense. The possibility also exists that St. Louis could sign DeRosa beyond 2009, though both Mozeliak and DeRosa hesitated on that topic.

"I won't put that pressure on myself, but that's definitely out there," DeRosa said. "I go out there and play the same way every day. Play hard, hustle, move guys over if I have to, get bunts down, whatever it takes to win. Hopefully I'll perform well. I plan on doing that. But at the same time, I don't think I'm really worried about that."

Moreover, the Cardinals may not be done dealing. Mozeliak said the Cardinals are not likely to strike again imminently, but did not rule out further additions. He also indicated that the club may have additional financial flexibility even after taking on the entirety of DeRosa's contract. DeRosa is owed approximately $2.9 million in this, the final year of a three-year deal.

"I think the way I'd like to approach it is, let's just see where we are in a couple weeks," Mozeliak said. "See what we may need to address. See how he fits in with the club and how he's being utilized. ... As far as, 'Do we have the resources available if we need it?' There's always the potential for that."

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