ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals finalized a three-year extension for general manager John Mozeliak just ahead of the trade deadline.
Team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said Thursday the team has payroll leeway to make deals but noted the team's minor league system is depleted from trades and call-ups in recent seasons. The Cardinals exited the All-Star break one game behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central but have six players on the 15-day disabled list.
"We have the capacity to take on payroll the balance of the year and into next year and I think that's an advantage," DeWitt said. "But our minor league system is thinned out. We'll just wait and see if we match up with someone."
Mozeliak's big move so far is last season's acquisition of outfielder Matt Holliday from the Oakland Athletics and signing Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million free-agent contract in January. The Holliday deal helped the Cardinals win the division.
"We're not going to be able to make an impact like that every single year, but we'd like to," DeWitt said. "[Mozeliak] is on the case."
Pitching has been the team's strength but is also their greatest area of need, given Brad Penny (upper back) and Kyle Lohse (forearm) have been sidelined since late May and neither is expected back until August. Lohse is scheduled for his first bullpen session Saturday and Mozeliak said the right-hander could return ahead of Penny.
The team initially thought Penny would be out only three weeks, but he had a setback during the team's last trip before the All-Star break and was being evaluated Thursday in St. Louis. Mozeliak remained optimistic Penny, 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA, would pitch again this season.
"He's still feeling some discomfort," Mozeliak said. "Until that goes away, it's really hard for anybody to guess when he'll return."
Two regulars, outfielder Ryan Ludwick (left calf strain) and rookie third baseman David Freese (right ankle bone bruise), are also out. Mozeliak said Ludwick is about 10 days from returning and Freese is perhaps two weeks away.
Mozeliak said the team was being cautious with Ludwick, who landed on the DL after aggravating the injury during a treadmill workout in early July. Before that workout, he had told the team he was ready to go after missing nine of 10 games.
"We just don't want to have a replay of that," Mozeliak said.
Outfielder Nick Stavinoha was placed on the disabled list Thursday with a shoulder injury sustained on a diving attempt over the weekend. Allen Craig was recalled from Triple-A Memphis and was batting fifth against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.
Mozeliak's approach mixes traditional scouting with a numbers-based analysis, and DeWitt said it gives the team a "good blend." Mozeliak said an agreement was reached last week.
The 41-year-old Mozeliak was promoted from assistant GM to replace Walt Jocketty at the end of the 2007 season and has been with the Cardinals' front office 15 years. Jocketty is now the general manager of Cincinnati, the team the Cardinals are chasing in the NL Central.
"I was fortunate working with Walt Jocketty for so many years, given a lot of different exposure and experience," Mozeliak said. "It was very helpful for my development."
The team also announced that rookie pitcher Adam Ottavino, 0-2 with an 8.46 ERA in five games including three starts, would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Ottavino was a first-round draft pick in 2006.