With the news reported roughly 8 hours ago via Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch that Rafael Furcal will be shut down indefinitely, it appears that the Cardinals greatest gamble of the off season has blown up squarely in the face of General Manager John Mozeliak. Mr. Mozeliak had made the conscious decision to believe that Furcal would be fine without off season elbow surgery, enough so that he only signed Ronny Cedeno as a back up option. With less than a month to go before Opening Day in Arizona, the Cardinals are now left with the only in house options being the aforementioned Cedeno, Daniel Descalso, and Pete Kozma. While I would never count out Descalso’s defensive abilities anywhere on the infield, he has yet to string together an entire season at the plate that would justify him taking the SS role and running with it. Kozma has shown both offensive and defensive flashes in the minimal time he has manned the position, but he has also shown the signs of youth in both areas as well. Honestly, I have no issue with any of the 3 seeing time at SS, but only in limited spurts, and certainly not as the full time starter until Furcal is finally blessed by the Cardinals doctors to return to his rightful place in the infield. Naturally, that begs the following question: What should the Cardinals do?
It may be time to pull the trade trigger to fill the one need that the organization is clearly going to have to address before the 2014 season begins anyway because Furcal will no longer be under contract. There were rumors flying anywhere you might have looked last week that there might be the potential for a deal with Colorado to attempt to pry away Troy Tulowitzki. While Tulo seems like a great fit on the surface, I think this one should be put to bed before it snowballs into epic proportions. Why? The asking price would be much more than the Cardinals should consider. I am never against using the carefully cultivated farm assets to enrich the parent club, but when the moving pieces would undoubtedly be massive, the return had better be just as massive. Tulo has certainly posted some massive numbers at the position, but in his seven year career he has only topped 151 games played one time. Last season he went down with an injury in mid May and never returned, playing in only 47 games. While he is only 28, and still has the chance at producing quality numbers for a long time, I just can’t see how the Cardinals can justify most likely overpaying in terms of talent for his services. So, where do I think Mr. Mozeliak should turn his attention?
The Texas Rangers have the #1 prospect in all of Major League Baseball in the form of SS Jurickson Profar. They also have a 24 year old starting SS by the name of Elvis Andrus who I feel should be the primary Cardinals target. Andrus has already played 4 seasons in the major leagues posting a career line of .275, 14 HR, 197 RBI, and 123 SB. A closer look behind his batting average shows a slow steady climb from .267 as a rookie to .286 last season. At only 24 years of age, he has a ton of games left in the tank, and he would look awfully good sporting Cardinal Red for many years to come. The price will not be cheap in terms of talent, but the Cardinals have the surplus of young arms to get this deal done. Andrus is in the middle of a 3 year, 14.4 million dollar contract, and is slated to become a free agent in 2015. If this deal were to somehow be made, the Cardinals would certainly need to make it a priority to get him under a longer contract extension to justify the talent that they are going to have to part with in order to secure him.
The time is near, the mission’s clear, Mr. Mozeliak. Get on the phone and bring Cardinal Nation a new major league ready SS that can alleviate all of the fanbase’s worries for years to come.