Fair or not, loss more than gain defined the Cardinals’ offseason.

Their earned-run average leader became a free agent, as did the first baseman found among the top 10 in voting for the previous season’s National League Most Valuable Player Award.

The man who strong-armed the club to its remarkable World Series championship now is out, hoping to regain normalcy in his right shoulder, arm and hand.

A utility player once deemed a starter at center field and second base was dealt.

The bullpen’s most veteran member left to rehabilitate his career in the American League.

Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Skip Schumaker and Kyle McClellan became winter casualties for various reasons.

Each represented at least a sliver and in many cases a sizeable chunk of a tight-knit team’s core. Famous for their resilience the last two seasons, the Cardinals now must reconstruct a puzzle without several of its most familiar pieces.