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Rafael Furcal Injury Leaves The St. Louis Cardinals With Limited Options At Shortstop

The Rafael Furcal injury—and their awkward response to it—belies that the St. Louis Cardinals came into 2012 with striking depth at nearly every position. Lance Berkman, Allen Craig, and Carlos Beltran were locked in a kind of injury-prone-platoon in the outfield and at first base; Matt Carpenter stood behind David Freese at third. Two positions stood out as vulnerable: Shortstop and catcher.

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In the course of a week the Cardinals nearly lost Yadier Molina and did lose Rafael Furcal, and we learned just how little theoretical depth means when a team is forced into very specific applications of same. Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson are probably above replacement level, but they're drastically below Molina level. Now the Cardinals have replaced Furcal, on an immediate basis, with Pete Kozma, who could be drastically below replacement level.

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In the medium-term things won't be quite that bad; Daniel Descalso is probably underperforming his actual ability as a hitter, and Ryan Jackson is probably a better fielder, at this point, than Furcal, which gives his mediocre bat a little cover.

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But if you were wondering where the Cardinals could find room to improve in 2013, depth in the infield and behind the plate are probably on their list of cheap fixes.