Sunday, December 11, 2011

Furcal Gets a Two Year Deal

I will say trading for Rafeal Furcal was a key move in the Cardinals postseason run this past year. He was a big improvement defensively over Ryan Theriot, and did get some key hits in September. He was a All Star in 2010, although he was hurt much of the second half. Since 2008, Furcal has played in 36, 150, 97, and 81 games. That's alot of missed games in the past four years, so Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso will probably need to fill in at some point during the season.

Furcal was signed to a two year, 14 million dollar deal this weekend. There wasn't much left on the free agent market, and 34 year old Jimmy Rollins wanted a five year deal. Furcal is also 34, and is coming off a down year. His average was down to .231 and On base pct. was down to .298 for the season, and isn't as fast on the bases as years past and has lost a step defensively. Furcal's did bat .255 with a .316 OBP in 50 games with the Cardinals this year, but he is not the ideal candidate to bat leadoff anymore. In the postseason he was 15 for 77(.195) with a .235 OBP.

If Furcal can rebound and stay healthy, it will be a good deal. Its possible last season was an off year due to injury, but its also possible Furcal is on the decline. Its not a huge deal, so if he does flop it won't be to big of a hit to the Cardinals financially. Besides Greene and Descalso, the Cardinals also have good glove weak hitting Pete Kozma in Triple A. Top SS Ryan Jackson spent last season in Double A and is probably a year or two away from the big leagues. Furcal is a stop gap until a long term option is ready or steps up, and hopefully the Redbirds can get a good to decent year from him next season.

Rafeal Furcal's career stats

Its not certain who will be Furcal's double play partner next season. Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot are both arbitration elgible, and its unlikely both will be retained. Schumaker's ability to play all outfield positions makes him the more likely candidate to stay as a utility guy. The Shredder and defensive specialist Nick Punto is a free agent. Greene and Descalso will be in the mix for the second base job as well, as both will spot Furcal from time to time. Allen Craig played some second last year, but is likely to be in right field next year when he gets healthy. There isn't much on the free agent market for second baseman, but a trade could be possible.

Tyler Greene led the team in stolen bases last season with 11 despite being in Triple A most of the year. He's put up solid numbers in Triple A batting .323 last season. He's solid defensively, and is quick, stealing over 30 bases twice in the minors. However, he's been in Memphis for parts of four seasons and turned 28 this past August. He hasn't found much success in the big leagues, but did play well in September when given the chance. Its time to see what Greene can do in the big leagues next year, or its time to trade him.

Unless Furcal can improve his On base pct., he shouldn't bat leadoff next season. Its possible that Jon Jay could be given a chance to leadoff. Its also possible John Mozeliak is looking to acquire a leadoff hitter. I'm also not sure what kind of manager Mike Matheny will be like, is he going to want a set lineup or mix and match like Tony LaRussa? I'm thinking he will have more of a set lineup when he can. I'm also unsure if Matheny will want to take more chances on than TLR did, partly to manufacture runs since Pujols is gone. Matheny will have some candidates to do it with Greene, Adron Chambers, Rule V draft pick Erik Komatsu, and possibly Furcal. Jay and Craig could and are fast enough to steal more bases if needed.

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