The Bad: Offseason Plan
To many people, the team's weakness was quite evident: pitching. The front office, however, doubled down on its starting rotation and bullpen. While having six starters is always a good thing, it really helps to have six STRONG starters. Quality and quantity are essential in a starting rotation.
The other pain from the offseason seems to be its free-agency approach. While the Cardinals have plenty of depth to trade from, the focus during the offseason appeared to be filling in Yadier Molina's absence rather than the rotation. The team could have traded for Sean Murphy and then spent its free agency money on a top-end starter. Instead, management spent its money on Willson Contreras. While I don't necessarily disagree with signing Contreras, I think there were two or three routes that would have been preferable this past offseason.
The plan after signing Contreras was to use the player depth to trade midseason for a starter. That plan clearly didn't work out, as the rotation and bullpen played to their projections, thus being a part of the reason the team is where it is now.
I'm sure signing Contreras alone wasn't Plan A for Mozeliak and Co. However, pushing harder to acquire top-end talent through free agency and trades this past offseason would have helped the team greatly.