One of the reasons it was so difficult to see the Cardinals season end so abruptly is because the direction of this team can head so many different ways between now and the beginning of spring training.
There was a strong feeling at the end of August that the Cardinals might be on the cusp of a big run and if they could re-sign Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa that they would be guaranteed of having a competitive core of players through at least 2011.
Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro's NLDS game three loss was likely his last game with St. Louis. AP photo.
But does management feell like the acquisition of Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa turned out to be a bust because of the way that the team stumbled down the stretch and in the playoffs? Will it be willing to spend the money to keep them around or will they resume their tight wadded ways of the last two years and let their prize acquisitions go?
We already know that some familiar faces are all but certain to be gone. Rick Ankiel and Joel Pineiro will probably head for greener pastures. Ankiel seems to be wanted by just about every other team in the NL Central, including the Cubs, Reds and Pirates who think he can be an affordable power source if his wayward swing and approach at the plate can be improved. Pineiro says he wants to come back to the Cardinals. But if he is back, it means the Birds could swing a deal for Holliday, otherwise there isn't going to be enough cash to go around.
I hope the front office doesn't view the 2009 season as a failure based on the last three weeks. Instead it needs to view it as unfinished business and give this club a chance to fulfill it's unrealised potential in 2010.