As he traced the transactions that built the Cardinals to rule the National League Central for a decade, executive John Mozeliak referenced Monday the trades they made for Mark McGwire and later Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds and “those players who ended up signing.” There was the luck of Albert Pujols’ supernova and sustenance from a farm system that provided players for four consecutive NL Championship Series appearances. There were, Mozeliak detailed, clear trends to how the Cardinals constructed contenders and how they maintained their success, just as there’s an obvious hole hindering them now. “The one thing that we feel that we’re missing is maybe that elite-type bat,” Mozeliak said, leaning back in his chair in the team’s suite at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort. “As we continue to pursue things that’s how we’re trying to think about it. If it doesn’t happen, are there incremental ways for us to get better? That is what we’re going to have to pursue. You cannot force something like this. “If it’s not there, it’s not there.” It still could be. On the first day of the annual winter meetings, the Cardinals mostly held conversations with other teams about trades. Mozeliak had not had a face-to-face with an agent by Monday evening, though some are scheduled for later in the week. In recent years, trade talks have become conducted increasingly by email and text and phone. On Monday, the Cardinals visited in person with two teams. “Old school,” Mozeliak said. His staff declined to disclose who the two teams were but the Cardinals, according to multiple sources, have remained in contact with the Miami Marlins and pursued conversations with Tampa Bay. Mozeliak acknowledged that the team’s description of the “impact bat” they wanted to add was Giancarlo Stanton, who vetoed a trade to the Cardinals and muscled his way into New York Yankees pinstripes Tuesday. Not getting Stanton meant the Cardinals “lost a little wind from our sails on that particular point,” Mozeliak said. But it was not wasted time.