ST. LOUIS -- How the Cardinals will look to build a roster for 2016 will, in many ways, be shaped through assessing how a team that won 100 games during the regular season could tally just one in October.
When the Cardinals ran into a surging Cubs team in the National League Division Series, they were already a club on fumes. That push from April to September that netted the organization a third straight division title and required contributions from so many unlikely faces had been admirable. But it had also been costly.
The October fade had many facets. There were the injuries, something the Cardinals barreled past with remarkable resiliency for six months, but ultimately couldn't hide from when the stakes were at their highest. And it wasn't just who wasn't around for the postseason. It was also who was there while compromised.
Some, like Matt Holliday and Matt Adams, had run out of time to log the necessary September at-bats to get their timing right. Others had been ridden so hard just to help the Cardinals stave off division pursuers Pittsburgh and Chicago that they had little left to give. Middle infielder Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong looked especially worn down. On the pitching side, so, too, did Michael Wacha and Kevin Siegrist.
"Does this come down to us possibly overworking guys? Possibly. Yeah," Matheny acknowledged. "We have to go when we can go, and most of these guys want to play. This is an everyday game. This is what they want to do. They want to play. They want to push. And part of the reward of this season is being able to look at the end and realize how you did push through those times when you didn't think your body or mind would allow you to. That helps to develop that toughness in a team."
It also, however, left this team with little left to give.
And so it is with that fresh in mind that the Cardinals will seek to prevent the same deterioration. It's why, despite forming a team that led the Majors in wins, general manager John Mozeliak said on Thursday that "there is a lot of work to be done" this offseason. It will start with building a roster that would allow for more coverage.
"Just looking at areas where we can touch on dealing with the fatigue factor, giving added depth to the roster," Mozeliak said. "One of the topics we talked about [Wednesday] is maybe a little more flexibility on our roster with the depth that can give players one or two days off, more than normal if you're taking it in those one-week windows."
Among the priority spots will be the middle infield, where the Cardinals' decision to carry all-glove, no-bat Pete Kozma left Matheny hesitant to rest Peralta and Wong as the club searched most of the year for an offensive spark. As a result, both Peralta and Wong saw a drastic offensive drop off in the second half.
Depth will be sought on the pitching side, too, though Mozeliak indicated that he is fairly content with the internal starting pitching options already in place. There will be a shakeup in the bullpen, and the departure of Randy Choate will free up that spot for a reliever who can be more versatile than a lefty specialist would be.
Providing capable late-inning coverage would preclude the Cardinals from overworking some of their key relievers. Siegrist led the Majors with 81 regular-season appearances. Seth Maness, with 76, was not far behind.
• Mozeliak announced that everyone on Matheny's coaching staff has been offered contracts to return in 2016, and is hopeful of having that process wrapped up by early next week.
• Matheny shed some light on what the Cardinals would have done had they pushed their National League Division Series against the Cubs to a decisive fifth game. Matheny said Adam Wainwright, had he not been needed in Game 4, would have been in consideration to start. Lance Lynn, Tyler Lyons and Jaime Garcia would also have factored in as the Cardinals would have pieced together the necessary coverage.