Friday, August 31, 2012
Furcal Hurt, Who Will Play Short?
During yesterday's game, Rafeal Furcal looked to hurt his arm pretty bad throwing to first. He will undergo an MRI on his elbow today, and its quite possible he tore his UCL. Furcal said he felt his elbow pop, and couldn't straighten it. Even if he didn't tear his UCL, the club thinks he could be out for four weeks in the best case scenario. Furcal had been relatively healthy this year, and this is a devastating injury to a team with little middle infield depth. His defense will be missed, and while he cooled off offensively, none of our internal options can hit like he does.
Right now, its likely that Daniel Descalso will get the majority of starts in Furcal's absence. Descalso plays good defense, but is a weak hitter. Danny D has came up with some clutch hits in the past, but often times he looks lost at the plate. At the very least, Descalso needs to keep playing good defense. He won't be expected to as good as Furcal, nor does he has Furcal's range. However, I think Descalso can fill in for Furcal with not much dropoff defensively.
With Tyler Greene traded to the Astros earlier this month, the only other internal options are Ryan Jackson and Triple A infielder Pete Kozma. Jackson leapfrogged former 1st round pick Kozma in the organization's depth chart. Both are better known for their glovework than their hitting. However, Kozma is a very weak hitter, even in the minor leagues. He will likely be called up in September, mainly for extra infield depth, not because of his play. Jackson hasn't got much of a chance to play in the big leagues yet, but will get his chance now. He was the better hitter of these two players in the minor leagues.
Another question is, who will be the everyday second baseman now that Descalso is likely to be the main shortstop? My guess would be Skip Schumaker. Skip's a much better hitter than Descalso, although he is a downgrade defensively. Jackson could play some second base as well. Matt Carpenter has played second base a handful of times this season. Carpenter has proven to be a good hitter, and a versatile player this year. I would give him some opportunities to play second. Matt did sprain his ankle in pregame warmups yesterday, but it's not serious.
There is a slight chance that the Cardinals could go outside the organization for help. However, today is the last day to acquire someone who would be eligible for postseason play. If the Cardinals traded for somebody tommorrow, that player would be ineligible for postseason play. Cesar Izturis and Jason Bartlett are available free agent shortstops, but I'm not sure if they would be an improvement over what we have. Bartlett was recently released by the Padres, and hasn't played since mid-May. Izturis has been released twice this season, by the Brewers and Nationals. He is a former Cardinal, and was their starter in 2008. Most likely, the Redbirds will go with what they have now. Next season, they need to find more middle infield depth, and someone who can caddy Furcal.
In some good news, Lance Berkman will be returning to the Cardinals tommorrow when rosters expand. Berkman has suffered an injury plagued year. He would be a good bat to have come of the bench for the stretch run, and hopefully the playoffs. This could be Berkman's final season, he has hinted at retirement several times this year.