Tough not to wonder how Albert Pujols will be spending the next 10 or so days at home in St. Louis.

Navigating his way through a sea of Cardinals red in the aisles when he stops for bread and milk at his local Schnucks grocery store? Threading his way through the 24-hour wall-to-wall World Series coverage with every click of the television remote? Reading Michael Wacha's life story?

Hard to believe there was a time two years ago when we wondered what October would be like for the Cardinals if they dared allow Pujols to escape.

Not only did life go on but the quality of it never wavered.

We also now know what October is like for Pujols post-Cardinals: He has a lot of free time on his hands. So do his Angels.

There's never any guarantee how things will turn out but as St. Louis prepares to face either Boston or Detroit in their fourth World Series in 10 years man do the Cardinals ever look like the cat that swallowed the canary (to ahem stick with the ornithological theme).

But for one more win against the Giants last October the Redbirds would be 2 for 2 in World Series appearances post-Pujols. As it is they're 2 for 2 in NL Championship Series appearances and now have a chance to win a second World Series in three seasons.

Not bad for an organization that said farewell not only to Pujols but to manager Tony La Russa as well after the 2011 world championship season.

“When we won the World Series right away I remember how I was thinking that this is just a fleeting moment in time” St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak says. “Because I knew we were going to have to replace the manager. I knew we were going to have a difficult negotiation coming up with Albert.

“The balance of the club was in limbo directionally where we may be going.”

La Russa had quietly given notice late in the season that he intended to retire when it was finished so Mozeliak and his staff were able to do a lot of “due diligence” in August September and October of '11.

“So the first thing we had to address was getting a manager and we did that” he says of Mike Matheny the former Cardinals catcher who played under La Russa.

“I knew we were going to have to do things differently and it really came down to re-deploying resources how we would do that. As far as expectations to repeat as world champions everybody says that's their goal. That's what we go to spring training for and that's what we point to.