8 lessons the St. Louis Cardinals need to learn from the terrible 2023 season

There is plenty to learn from the 2023 season, but these 8 lessons stand out above the rest for the Cardinals.

Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
4 of 9

Figure out the balance between holding onto legacy players and fielding the most competitive team

One of the things that makes the St. Louis Cardinals such a storied franchise is their ability to hold onto their iconic players. It's a beautiful thing but can create issues down the line if not done with both purpose and realistic expectations.

While Adam Wainwright's presence on the 2023 team is not the reason they fell apart this year, his $17.5 million salary and their overreliance on his production were part of the problem. They prioritized bringing him back over potentially a difference-making arm, something I think they would've handled a little differently with some hindsight.

The Albert Pujols situation in 2022 was an example of them doing this well. They brought Pujols in on a low salary, and he was filling a gap for them that other options could have stepped into if needed. He ended up being one of their best players, but they were not banking on that being the case.

While the Wainwright and Pujols situations were very unique, the Cardinals do have some more legacy player situations coming up. Paul Goldschmidt is a free agent after the 2024 season and Nolan Arenado is aging, so they will have to make some tough decisions with both players that will directly impact their championship window, both now and into the future.