It was announced this morning that Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal will be undergoing Tommy John surgery and will be out of the season. With this being the final year of his deal with the Cardinals it is very likely that he has played his final game in a Cardinals uniform.
What this essentially means is that Pete Kozma is the favorite to be the Opening Day shortstop. While there are some in the fanbase that have decided that this means that general manager John Mozeliak should make a move to get a proven commodity at short stop, I say to have patience.
Yes, Kozma did not have the greatest of numbers in the minor leagues. He didn’t even have the best of numbers when he made his Major League debut in the 2011 season. Playing in 16 games, Kozma averaged a dismal .176 in only 17 at bats over the course of 16 games.
However, the 2007 first round pick came back to the Cardinals following Furcal’s August 2012 injury. It was then that we all saw what Kozma could be capable of. He batted .333 over a span of 26 games. I’m not worried about that.
Not including today’s action, Kozma is hitting .400 this spring in 25 at bats while facing pitching that is described between of AAA and Major League caliber pitchers.
Defensively, in the 25 games that he played at short last season, he only made 3 errors. This doesn’t include the NLCS where he went one way and the ball jumped another.
“I would be shocked if he didn’t make the major league team,” said Mozeliak.
“You look at the impact he had out of the bullpen last year,” Mozeliak said. “It just seemed to be the right fit for us.
“With Joe Kelly doing what he did for us last year and Shelby Miller and (Michael) Wacha both being impressive early (in camp), it was hard to imagine continuing to get (Rosenthal) enough innings to stretch him out.”
The way that I see it, the rotation is looking like: Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller. I see Joe Kelly being that long reliever as he was late in the season and during the playoffs. Of course, if Lynn has the same kind of season that he did last year, this can probably change.
Finally, Jeff Gordon believes this season to be a transition year for the Cardinals.