New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has made a major move intended to bolster the team’s bullpen in 2012: He signed them up for Verizon’s Friends and Family package during the Christmas shopping season.

“It was too good a deal to pass up,” said Matheny, who will be in his first year at the helm after replacing retired manager Tony La Russa. It was La Russa who almost had the biggest gaffe in World Series history when his bullpen calls in Texas were first misinterpreted and then unheeded.

“I’ll be able to call the guys anytime to get them to warm up or even shoot them a text if I feel like it,” said Matheny. “The girl at the Verizon store even showed me how to set up a group so I can send them all the same message.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said the holiday season was the right time to pull the trigger.

“They had some amazing deals,” Mozeliak said. “We have up to 500 texts a month, and we can have unlimited calls within our network. I am pretty confident we can get the right pitcher throwing in most of our games this season.”

It has been a tough off-season for the usually predictable St. Louis franchise, as slugger and fan favorite Albert Pujols signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. Mozeliak said losing a player of Pujols’ ability hurt, but the new phone package softened the blow.

“When the girl at the counter showed Mike and me how to text so the word pops up before we even finish writing it, we looked at each other and knew we had found the right package,” said Mozeliak. “We immediately called pitching coach Dave Duncan to tell him about it, but we couldn’t get hold of him because he had his phone turned off during dinner.”

Matheny added, “I know it’s going to be tough to replace a Hall of Fame manager like Tony and a future Hall of Famer like Albert, but even they couldn’t do some of the things I’ll be able to do this year. Plus, my contract says I’ll be eligible for an upgrade at the 2013 All-Star break. Sweet!”