#2 - Be thankful for Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
Every Opening Day, the Cardinals remind fans that they've had a Hall of Famer in uniform every year for the last century. After the retirements of Pujols and Molina in 2022, two new players have replaced them as the future Hall of Famers on the team: Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Though both players had down years in 2023, they're just one year removed from both finishing in the top 3 in MVP voting. Both were a key component in the division-winning 2022 team, and they should not be overlooked as top players in the league going forward.
With the old veterans retired, Goldschmidt and Arenado are the new clubhouse leaders. The younger players count on them and look to them to provide mentorship. Despite not having the World Series success of the old guard, Goldschmidt, and Arenado solidify the middle of the Cardinals lineup with threatening power and hold down the infield defense at the corners. Without them, the Cardinals are in complete shambles. No strong pitching staff and no strong lineup.
With all the criticism John Mozeliak gets for trading Adolis Garcia, Randy Arozarena, Zac Gallen, and Sandy Alcantara, he should get equal praise for acquiring Goldschmidt and Arenado from the Diamondbacks and Rockies for absolutely nothing. The two have been invaluable to the Cardinals' elite lineup and will continue to win games next year. If they can bounce back to their 2022 heights, count on the Cardinals to win the NL Central and make a deep postseason run.