1. Their model was tested, failed, and now change is coming
John Mozeliak was spot on when he said their model would be tested this offseason. That quote came in reference to the major spending done by teams like the New York Mets and San Diego Padres, both of whom imploded this season as well, but nonetheless, the Cardinals' model failed as well.
Clearly, spending big money does not mean instant success. Ask Steven Cohen about all the money he ate at this year's trade deadline. But what this season has shown, and frankly, the past five to ten years have shown, is that teams who can balance the pressure of high payrolls while still drafting and developing talent at a high level will have sustained success in today's game.
The Cardinals may be the best in baseball at drafting and developing talent. Since 2015, the club has accumulated the most WAR from the MLB Draft of all teams in baseball outside of the Houston Astros, who had two top-5 picks in 2015. The Cardinals have done this without drafting higher than 19th in any draft, and continue to crank out impactful big leaguers. Where they have missed the mark is in two specific areas - how they go about spending their payroll and the development of pitching.
While there are some promising arms coming through the system now, the Cardinals are currently feeling the ramifications of the deterioration of their pitching development over the last decade. While there have been a number of arms that failed to reach their potential as front-line starters due to injury, in general, the pitching depth has been razor-thin. Remember 2013 when the club was loaded with pitching? Well, it's been downhill since then. Funny enough, that was the last World Series appearance they had.
Mozeliak has been very open about taking accountability for this season, rather than placing blame on the players or manager Oli Marmol. The roster construction doomed this team, and he knows major changes are needed to fix this.
My biggest question is about whether or not ownership will empower Mozeliak to spend the money necessary to reshape this pitching staff. I tend to think a season as bad as this one will force ownership to make changes to the budget they allow Mozeliak to use, but time will tell if that is the case.
If the Cardinals are not aggressive this offseason, then I do believe it will be time to look at changing front-office personnel. But for now, I do believe change is finally coming.