The defending World Series champions were one win away from returning to the Fall Classic for a second straight year before suffering three consecutive losses to the San Francisco Giants this week.
And while the pain and disappointment continues to linger, thoughts quickly turn positive when the talk turns towards next season. The Cardinals will likely lose only starter Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman to free agency and should have nearly all their key contributors back in 2013.
That doesn't mean they don't have any decisions to make heading into the offseason though. Here's a look at five key questions the Cardinals need to answer before the start of next season if they want to win the N.L. Central and get back to the World Series:
1. What is the status of Jaime Garcia?
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia made the rounds recently to have his injured left shoulder examined. The immediate decision, made after visiting with Dr. James Andrews, was to wait two or three weeks and see if...