UPDATE: TEAM READY TO EXPAND PAYROLL

Alright, there are some semantics to get to, though they seem way less important today.

Adam Wainwright says he’s putting no deadline on contract talks and that he and the Cardinals were hashing out a deal as early as last season, though he wisely tabled talks until now after several lesser pitchers have signed enormous contracts.

Wainwright said he liked where the negotiations were headed, which is scary to me since I’m of the belief that the Cardinals don’t need to break the bank for something they already have plenty of.

But Wainwright did wear a t-shirt to the convention interview that said, “Just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub,” and any player who fully embraces and makes fun of baseball cliches can’t be that bad to have around, right?

UPDATE: Bill DeWitt says the team is ready to increase payroll in the coming years, starting with about a $15 million increase this year.  I’m guessing that means a Wainwright deal is close.

> At the teams’ fan convention yesterday, John Mozeliak talked about the middle infield situation, saying that second base is Daniel Descalso‘s job to lose.  Put another way, this is an offseason in which Ty Wigginton was given $5 million over two years while the middle infield with an injury prone shortstop, a no-hit second baseman and no depth remained unmaintained.

> That could change, though; at least at shortstop.  Mozeliak touted Rafael Furcal‘s renewed health, though obviously he wasn’t exactly sold on it given that he added this caveat:

“We have to have contingency plans.  Between now and Opening Day, if we feel like we still need to address the middle infield, we’ll still consider it.  We haven’t turned off any of our exploration on that either.  We’re still open to that. We’re still looking at things.  As we move closer to Jupiter, we’ll continue to try and find ways to improve this team.”

The Cards will survive even with this middle infield, of course.  With potential All-Stars at every position, a solid starting five and a loaded bullpen with several candidates who can invigorate the rotation if need be, they will win more than a few games.

However, while the division champion Reds only got better in the offseason, the Cardinals possibly got worse and didn’t do anything to cover up their one weak point.

> Also wanted to pass this along.  Most of the interesting links have been exclusively on Twitter this offseason, but this is a must-read.  If you still hate Albert Pujols after reading that, there’s no hope for you.

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