Justin K. Aller
Should the St. Louis Cardinals' rumored interest in shortstops like Asdrubal Cabrera be dependent on Rafael Furcal's health?
I'm not sure how the St. Louis Cardinals rumor mill—so moribund before we all started arguing about Asdrubal Cabrera—will or ought to react to the latest from Ken Rosenthal, posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon. His suggestion: That the Cardinals won't look at a shortstop unless they have to, because Rafael Furcal is Progressing Nicely, in the Kyle Lohse tradition. Here's the exact tweet, before we start complaining about it:
#STLCards’ Furcal progressing in rehab. Team will not decide whether to pursue another SS until winter mtgs. At this point, not necessary.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 8, 2012
I think everyone expected Rafael Furcal to progress in rehab, and at least to start the season as the team's starting shortstop-or-second-baseman. But what you can't expect Rafael Furcal to do—the reason the Cardinals will find it necessary to pursue another middle infielder, at the meetings or elsewhere—is play a full season.
The 121 games he played in 2012 as he slid gradually into too-hurt-to-play from just-hurt-enough-to-play badly were the second-most he'd appeared in since 2008, the year he turned 30. Now he's a 35-year-old shortstop who's averaged 98 games a year since.
The Cardinals should expect Furcal to start, and they should expect him, if even mostly healthy, to be an above average shortstop (or second baseman.) But they shouldn't expect him to be healthy enough to make it okay that the next guys on their depth chart are Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, and the inexplicably doghoused Ryan Jackson.