Earlier this season, I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as the "Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball". True to form, they had another brilliant season that included their fourth World Series appearance in the past 10 years.
While they couldn't outlast the Red Sox, who beat them in six games, they shouldn't miss a beat in 2014 as long as they continue to follow the model of success that's allowed them to post winning seasons in 13 of the last 14 years.
As they've shown the baseball world throughout the season and into the playoffs, their young talent is for real, and they should continue to produce more homegrown talent that should put the team in a position so that they don't have to rely on the free agent and trade markets.
That doesn't mean they won't be active in the offseason, though.
For example, they don't have to re-sign Carlos Beltran because they have the option of moving Allen Craig to right field and handing the first base job over to Matt Adams, who posted an .838 OPS as a rookie. Or they could hand the job to Oscar Taveras, who entered the season as one of the top prospects in baseball before an ankle injury hindered him in 2013.
But that doesn't mean they can't or won't sign Beltran.
The Cardinals have the financial resources to make moves in free agency and the farm system that would allow them to do nothing and still be a good team. It's good to have those options. Some teams have neither.
General manager John Mozeliak had a quiet offseason prior to the 2013 season, opting to use his financial resources to lock up Craig and Adam Wainwright to long-term extensions. With most of his team's core of talent under club control for several more seasons and several million dollars coming off of the books, he could focus more on adding another impact bat or pitcher to push the team over the top next season.
Here's everything you'll need to know before Mozeliak and the front office get started.