The not so surprising news that shortstop Rafael Furcal will undergo Tommy John surgery on his ailing elbow was announced today. Panic erupted on social media. “Trade for Tulo!” “Open the wallet, they need someone now!”. No, they don’t. Seriously. They don’t.
Aside from the fact that anyone who hasn’t been in a coma the last six months shouldn’t be surprised by this news, the Cardinals have options already in the organization. Pete Kozma is the favorite to have the job coming out of Spring Training. Count me as one who isn’t convinced that Kozma is the real deal, but, he deserves the opportunity to prove me wrong. Small sample size for Kozma makes me doubtful that he is the long term solution. However, it is entirely possible he has finally figured it out, and if so, show me, this native Missouri gal says.
Ronny Cedeno was supposedly signed as insurance, though insurance against what is my question. He isn’t an option to start at shortstop in my opinion. But then I questioned the signing from the get go, cause, well, he isn’t any good. Though I hear he has a hot wife, that is not a selling point for me. Cedeno, No Bueno.
And then there is the perplexing story of Ryan Jackson. The starting shortstop in Memphis over Kozma, he was brought up after Tyler Greene was traded then sent down again shortly after. To my knowledge, Jackson had been the top shortstop prospect but when Furcal was injured last August, Kozma was brought up instead of Jackson. Questions were raised about it then, but Kozma had a good run at the position, and the questioning died down. Then brought up again in September, Jackson remained notably absent in the playing field and as a pinch hitter throughout the remainder of the season. Speculation began that off field issues, or even a run in with manager Mike Matheny, may have been the cause. In any event, Jackson still appears to be an afterthought within the organization, for whatever reason. Still, he is an option, and a much better one than Cedeno in my opinion.
Making a trade as an act of panic, is a disaster waiting for a movie. It is a much wiser move to wait and see what the club has internally. If the internal options prove to be inadequate, then a move at the trade deadline might be worth exploring. Teams who are out of contention could be willing to deal, and a solution found for a cheaper cost than if done in a panic before the season starts. Furthermore, the idea that the solution must be a big bat is simply not realistic. Defense at shortstop should be the priority. Any offense that may come along with that is extra. Therefore, defensive options such as JJ Hardy should not be dismissed because of their offense. The Cardinals have sufficient offense in the lineup already to be a contender. While shortstops such as Troy Tulowitzki and Elvis Andrus are appealing, they would come at a great cost, a cost that many fans don’t realize, and may not be willing to pay.
Cardinal Nation, please come off the ledge, stop eyeing that bridge leap, and give the organization the benefit of the doubt that they know the best way to deal with this development. I don’t always agree with the moves of the front office, but in this instance, patience and a degree of caution is the way to go. Let’s see what Kozma, or if needed, Jackson, can do before we sell the farm.