The St. Louis Cardinals are still alive and well in the 2013 season. That doesn't mean that it is too early to look forward to 2014 and what the team can do to improve, though.
The Cardinals are a strong team offensively. The youth of the franchise gives General Manager John Mozeliak a lot of freedom to work within the confines of the team's budget. With homegrown stars around the diamond, the team does not tend to dabble in the free agent market often. There is room for improvement on this team and there are a few free agent hitters that can fill those needs.
The Cardinals can afford to improve at three key positions: shortstop, center field, and on the bench.
The team shows depth within the organization, but the bench remains an area that can be improved. The lack of solid hitters coming off the bench in key pinch hitting situations leaves St. Louis looking for options late in games that it simply doesn't have.
There is help out there in free agency at the shortstop position and it is a name familiar to the franchise. Most seem to believe that the team will go by way of trade to fill this need. They may not have to if the interest is mutual.
Finally, Jon Jay has been an adequate center fielder that has failed to produce at the level at which many would like to see him. There is an answer in free agency to address that need as well if the team is willing to make a big move this offseason.
All statistics in the following slides of this article are sourced from Baseball-Reference.
The projection of players that will be free agents this offseason is sourced from MLB Trade Rumors.