BJ Rains of Fox Sports Midwest reported the following from John Mozeliak on Thursday:

“I think October is about who’s hot and for three weeks we were one of those hot teams. We just weren’t able to sustain it for one more game to get us to that next challenge. I do think it was a microcosm of our season to some degree. We had defensive breakdowns. When things were going bad for us, that’s what was happening. Starting pitching, which was such a strength for us late, all of a sudden wasn’t taking us deep into games and a lot of that was because of our defense. Timely hitting for some reason went south for those three games and obviously you score one run in three games, it’s highly unusual for this team.  And I think the hottest team in the game was who we were playing. They did every little thing right. That’s how you’re successful.”

On the upcoming offseason, Mozeliak said:

“It’s certainly a lot different offseason than last year. I remember sitting after the World Series, realizing it was going to be pretty daunting with the manager, coaches, Albert’s situation. I think this year it’s much different. I think our team as a hole is set up to envision it still being successful. I think the one thing we don’t want to do is get into a situation where we’re not aggressive or not thinking about how we can get better. I think back to all the years I’ve been with the Cardinals and there’s always times where you wonder if you could have done more.

“We haven’t had a lot of time to start our 2013 planning but I will say that I want to challenge the group upstairs to be looking at creative and innovative ways to try and get this team better. If you go around the diamond right now you would assume all of these jobs are pretty much locked up and that sort of scares me looking at next year. I just want to make sure that we’re really taking a step back and as we enter the GM meetings, Winter Meetings, free agent market, that we’re not closed-minded to anything that might improve this team. But it’s a far different landscape from a year ago.”

I think Mozeliak said all the right things here. As for that first passage, the Cardinals were not the best team in 2011. Nor were they the best team in 2012. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), that’s not necessarily who wins the World Series. The difference between the best and worst teams in the playoffs tends to be so minuscule that it’s impossible to quantify. In the NLCS, the Cardinals got beat by good pitching and a lack of good defense, and though the chances were high that they would make the World Series after being up 3-1, we Cardinals fans know from experience that you’re never done until you’re actually done.

In terms of what they should be doing this off-season, there really are not a whole lot of “missing parts.” I’m not suggesting the best man for the job is necessarily at every position, but the Cardinals as they are right now would definitely be a competitive team for 2013. They obviously need some starting pitching help. Lohse won’t be back, who knows what the future is for Jaime Garcia, and the health of Carpenter & Wainwright slightly concern me. There is certainly no shortage of young pitching help, with Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, and Shelby Miller all viable options. But, I would love it if they could go out and get one more solid number two starter, because it is pitching that ultimately wins championships.

They also absolutely, 100%, need another left-handed reliever in addition to Rzepczynski. You can’t go through a season with one lefty in the bullpen. It just doesn’t work. If you throw Rzepczynski in the middle of the seventh inning to get a key out and have to take him out because he’s due up in the batting order in a tied ball game, you’re out of lefties. There has to be more than one weapon in there. ‘Til next time…