ST. LOUIS — There will be no red October this year in St. Louis after the Cardinals missed the postseason for the first time since 2010.
St. Louis finished 86-76, missing a wild-card berth by one game as the rival Chicago Cubs won the NL Central Division by 17 1/2 games over the second-place Cardinals.
“We didn’t meet our goals. There’s no other way to say other than it’s disappointing,” general manager John Mozeliak said after Sunday’s season-ending win over Pittsburgh. “There’s a lot of things we could talk about — defense, base running or record at home. These this will have to be addressed at some level this offseason.”
Still, the GM said he believes the Cardinals are in a good spot and said he was “very confident” about the talent in the farm system.
“Hopefully, can we can address the right pieces, whether it’s in either trade or free agency to improve on where we are today,” he said. “We finished strong but not strong enough.”
There are questions at pitcher and the outfield, too, with Matt Holliday not expected back. Adam Wainwright, the starter in the season finale, was simply trying to come to grips with not playing any more this year.
“Missing the playoffs by one game, that’s hard to swallow,” Wainwright said. “There’s a lot of different ways we could have won different games. I could have pitched better in a lot of them. You can’t do it now. It’s more painful to know we just missed out. We never played our best baseball.”
By not playing in the postseason, Mozeliak quipped, the organization has more time to decide what direction to go.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to take a step forward,” Mozeliak said. “There’s room for growth. There’s going to be some activity. You look at our club, there’s faces at each position. How do we get that better?”
Some things to watch for with the Cardinals this offseason:
ON THE MOUND
Left-hander Jamie Garcia enters the option year of his contract. He will be due $12 million or the club can pay him $1 million and cut ties. Garcia finished 10-13 with a 4.67 ERA. Lance Lynn will return from Tommy John surgery. Michael Wacha, in his fourth season, struggled and finished 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA. Wainwright will turn 36 during the next season. Carlos Martinez is the No. 1 starter and rookie Alex Reyes looks like a solid starter. Free-agent signee Mike Leake went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA.
Who will the Cardinals go with as their closer in 2017? Seung Hwan Oh, signed as an extra arm for the bullpen, collected 19 saves after he took over the job. Trevor Rosenthal struggled early and spent nearly two months on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Rosenthal has wanted to be a starter and in his final outing of the year on Saturday covered three innings for the first time since 2012, throwing a career-most 52 pitches.
The contract situation for Brandon Moss will be worth watching. He finished with 28 homers and 67 RBIs but hit just .225. He had been mired in a 7-for-97 stretch that included 34 strikeouts before he hit a home run in Friday’s game against Pittsburgh. He earned $8.25 million this season. Moss will be 33 next season.
OUTFIELD SHIFT IS ON
The Cardinals are expected to decline the $17 million club option on left fielder Matt Holliday. In his third season, Randal Grichuk won the job in center field and hit .240 with 24 homers, but he was demoted twice during the season to AAA Memphis. With Stephen Piscotty in right field, two spots may be open. Do the Cardinals want to try Tommy Pham or Jeremy Hazelbaker there? Second baseman Kolten Wong also played some center this season.
UP THE MIDDLE
The Cardinals pride themselves on good defense. That wasn’t really the case this season. Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz had 16 errors. Second baseman Matt Carpenter made 13 errors and Jeff Gyorko committed 10. First baseman Matt Adams has seven errors. Jhonny Peralta, who switched third when he came back from injury after Diaz won the shortstop position, had four. Gyorko, who hit 30 homers, also can play in the outfield. Second baseman Wong, who had eight errors, signed a five-year $25.5 million contract before the season. Diaz is a lock to stay at shortstop but there may be some musical chairs in the other positions.