Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak met with the St. Louis media Thursday morning to discuss a variety of topics ranging from the Cardinals collapse in the NLCS to their goals for the offseason.
Below are some of the notable items from Mozeliak, including health updates on Jaime Garcia and Rafael Furcal and the plan for several players moving forward:
On the end of the season
"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 Cardinals outlook heading into the offseason
"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."
On the coaching staff, including news that bullpen coach Dyar Miller won't return
"We will replace Dyar Miller but everybody else will be offered back. I think from a standpoint of when we were putting the coaching staff together last year we were doing it quickly and Dyar deserved that opportunity but I think when we look at this long term now, we definitely want to have Mike (Matheny) be able to put some of his fingerprints on this as well."
On the status of Jaime Garcia and his injured left shoulder
"I would say the probability of him having surgery is very remote or small at this point. Clearly we're going to go into spring training holding our breath a little bit with regard to him but he's progressing right now in his rehab. He's feeling good about that, which is encouraging, but until you really have to ramp it up and put yourself on that mound, we're not going to know for sure until spring training."
On the status of shortstop Rafael Furcal and his injured elbowforearm
"He is also in that same mindset, which is trying to avoid (surgery) at all costs. He has a few hurdles to hop before maybe the calendar turns to December and that should give us a better idea but I would also echo that I think it's a low probability of him having surgery.
"Clearly Furcal has earned the right to be given that position but it's all going to be on health and production. He has to show up to camp in shape ready to go and ready to contribute, otherwise Pete Kozma certainly put himself back on the map."
On both Garcia and Furcal deciding not to have surgery
"I think it's a personal decision on their case. As far as am I nervous about it or concerned? No, I think we have depth that no matter what happens, we'll survive. We certainly respect whatever decisions they decide to do."
On the possibility of free agent Lance Berkman returning next season
"Clearly it was a tough year for Berkman. Physically it just didn't work. When you look at the depth of what we have coming, it's hard to imagine us finding a fit for him here. I would certainly say I have not sat down with him and even talked to him about his expectations and what he would envision his role being, but clearly getting every day at-bats for the St. Louis Cardinals would be very remote.
"He has to determine what he wants to do but for us right now, its hard to imagine us giving him significant at-bats. If he looks at his career and he understands that it's going to be a reduced role, then there's a possibility of a potential fit."
On the possibility of bringing back starter Kyle Lohse
"Kyle had just a brilliant year for us. I suspect the free agent market is going to treat him very kindly and when you see the depth we have coming, it's not something I'm prepared to rule out today, but I would say it's probably unlikely at this time.
On Lance Lynn's status within the rotation heading into next season
"Lynn did a tremendous job this year. I think it's highly probable he's going to be a starter for us next year. You're always trying to create a competitive camp and we're fortunate because we have some depth there but having said that, my expectations for him are that he comes into camp strong, in great shape and wants to be in that rotation. It never behooves anybody to just put things in stone today. I want everybody to prepare to start. It's much easier to go the other way."
On the offense being so inconsistent at times
"I think hitting is a little contagious and when things are going right, things are going right. It's a very odd year to explain when you look at the run differential being one side of the equation and then you look at our one-run games and lack of success, it's not one place you can point to to explain it because you could argue that we didn't proportion our runs properly but in fairness, on average we scored what we would think we would in games. That part is hard to answer. I'm glad we're discussing it because it means we scored a lot. It is an outlier, but clearly we never regressed to the mean in that regard."
On top prospect Oscar Taveras possibly playing in St. Louis in 2013
"He's the most prolific hitter I've seen in this organization since probably Albert (Pujols). When his time comes, I imagine he's here for a while so I think we have to just see how we can best use his skills. He's still developing but he's certainly made strides this year in a positive way. Do I think he plays in the big leagues at some point in 2013? I wouldn't rule it out."
On Taveras being able to play center field at the big league level
"I think that's a great question frankly because that should be what drives the answer, but it is the hardest position to play for a rookie, especially when you look to your left and your right on this team, which is very veteran. I think it's a great compliment to (Jon) Jay on how well he did, directing traffic and having a leadership role for someone with his service time relative to the left fielder and right fielder but right now, I think Jon Jay, he's our center fielder and he played like it. At some point when you start thinking about adding Tavares to the mix, I'm not exactly sure what that looks like today. I got to watch him a handful of times and I thought he looked very into it and did a good job. He's a good athlete. He really is. And he's an unbelievable hitter."
On the need for additional left-handed relief help
"Obviously when you have one lefty going into the postseason roster, that's a concern. I certainly think that's always on the list of things we could do better at. I will say that Sam Freeman opened up a lot of eyes this year and that was good to see, but overall, I would say that would be on the short list of things to look at it."
On where Triple-A first baseman Matt Adams fits
"We know he's there. He's a young man that has had a lot of success in the minor leagues and at some point he's going to have to get an opportunity in the big leagues but I can't tell you today when."
On Allen Craig's position
"I think he's most comfortable in the outfield but right now we need him at first. I think how we utilize him might determine how our offseason shakes out but right now he's our first baseman."
On the need to improve the bench
"Obviously it's an area where you could add a veteran element to give you that little extra thump late in the game but overall there were reasons why our bench was who we were using. That's certainly something we'll look at this offseason."
On Skip Schumaker's role next season...
"It's a little too early to tell because there are other things that could happen that could change how we might view that. I think Skip did a great job when we needed him. He hit well for us, especially when we needed him. Probably the last month or so was tough on him because he didn't get as much playing time as he was normally used to but I think he handled it well."
On Schumaker's future at second base
"It's hard to imagine him getting a ton of playing time there with what we know we have and what we know what we have coming."