The Cardinals were in a 1-1 game in the ninth inning of the wild card game against a 106-win team, so clearly they had a chance to advance in these playoffs. Also, with 90 victories, they would have won the NL East this season and avoided the wild card game.
So, yes, this season met the team's baseline goal of perennial contention. Of course the Cardinals want to go deeper, as they did in 2019, but it's not that simple. The Padres built what they believed was a powerhouse and you saw what happened to them.
The Phillies didn't spend all of that money to miss the playoffs again. The Yankees did not spend all of that money to exit in the wild card game. The Dodgers did not build that monstrous team only to come within a bloop single or two of losing to the Cardinals. That's baseball.
And as I always note, when a team tries to contend every year, it makes it difficult to accumulate a huge amount of talent in a given year. That usually requires years deliberate losing, bailout trades and high draft picking.