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Does early exit mean so long for La Russa, Duncan?

The Cardinals performed like the Cubs of 2007 (and 2008, ahem) in the NLDS, scoring just six runs and going 4-for-30 with runners in scoring position. Pitching coach Dave Duncan may walk after 15 seasons with the Cardinals over a dispute with management, which could prelude the departure of manager Tony La Russa, who is unsigned beyond 2009.

Duncan has been left out of many front office decisions involving pitching in the past few years, and spoke openly against the handling of his son, Chris Duncan, when they traded him early this season. With several vacancies open, one of the top pitching coaches in recent years won't have any trouble finding a new job.

La Russa has been non-committal about 2010, which means he could hold out and wait for other jobs around the league to open, particularly with the Braves, Cubs, and Reds.

The early exit also doesn't help their chances for re-signing Matt Holliday, which could have long-term ramifications if they fail to sign him. Albert Pujols is only under through 2011, and if the Cardinals cannot show their commitment to winning, Pujols may walk. That means the owners need to be willing to spend this offseason.

This is a crucial offseason for GM Jon Mozeliak, whether he wants to admit it or not. Now that their season is over, now is the time to start talking with La Russa and Duncan, along with preparing a contract for infielder Mark DeRosa.