THE MIDDLE INFIELD IS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE

As I write this at about seven o’clock on Sunday evening, we are enjoying our last few hours of relative offseason peace before the Winter Meetings go down in the swank Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.  From Monday to Thursday, all thirty Major League GMs will congregate amongst the masses to negotiate amongst themselves and the clamoring agents of the yet unsigned free agent players.  This is where the deals are done, and we can only hope that it goes better for our Cardinals this time around.

Among the GMs will be John Mozeliak, and before the Meetings have even begun, there are already rumors of what he’s after.

Before today, it was obvious that the Cards needed a lefty reliever.  They obviously don’t trust the shaky Marc Rzepczynski, though they have even less faith in his alternative counterpart, Sam Freeman.  And while we’ve yet to hear any specific names that are of interest to the Cardinals, it’s unanimously considered a concern.

The focus then shifts to the middle infield, which was specifically addressed by reporters Jim Bowden and Danny Knobler today.

First of all, the desire for a second baseman is new  and would seem to mean two things.  One, that Mike Matheny‘s request for Matt Carpenter to learn second base in the offseason has failed, and two, that the team doesn’t think Kolten Wong is ready for the Big Leagues.  Both of these mean that the Cards are looking down the barrel at a Daniel Descalso-Skip Schumaker tandem for yet another year.  That cannot happen, and if Carpenter and Wong aren’t going to be able to do the job, a starting second baseman is needed.

Because of Bowden’s frightening proposal, we’ll come back to second base in a moment.  For now, let’s talk shortstop.

I’ve heard some calling for the addition of Asdrubal Cabrera as earlier rumored this offseason, but it makes no financial sense to pay both Rafael Furcal and another guy starting shortstop money when you could instead pay an adequate-to-All-Star-level player (Furcal) and keep a decent backup in your pocket to lighten the load or even replace him, knowing his proclivity to injury.  And I believe Stephen Drew could be that backup and, thus, an addition I would support.  When the team says that Pete Kozma “needs more developing,” they’re saying he sucks, which is true in spite of his flash-in-the-pan hitting heroics at the tail end of last season.  Having Furcal start and Drew backing him up seems to be the ideal situation for shortstop at this point.

So let’s say that the Cards do end up getting Drew.  Apparently the team plans not use him and Furcal as a tandem shortstop but rather use Drew as the starter and move Furcal over to second to plug a gaping hole in the roster.  This, I would think, could only end in disaster.  Furcal has only played 255 innings over 36 games at second and hasn’t started there in ten years.  That speaks to the lack of regard the team hold for Descalso and Schumaker, but more importantly how little they’re going to spend this offseason if they can’t afford a lefty reliever, Stephen Drew ($1.4 mill this year) and a decent second baseman.

Whether the situation Bowden referenced plays out or even if nothing changes, the middle infield projects to be a hot mess in 2013.  Ideally Carpenter, Wong or a free agent would be able to hold the fort at second base, but since none appear to be viable options, this could really turn into a big mess.

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6 thoughts on “THE MIDDLE INFIELD IS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE

  1. Frankly, I thought the Pujols situation at the Winter Meetings last year worked out perfectly for the Cardinals. In fact, aside from reflexively signing Furcal immediately afterwards, the meeting couldn’t have gone any better in my opinion.

      • In what way? I mean, besides the circus atmosphere that ensued. Pujols would’ve drained this organization. His attitude was getting bad (I’ve heard he’s not the most popular guy in the Angels’ clubhouse either). I’m so glad he’s gone.

        Sent from my iPhone4

  2. Here’s my question: is Stephen Drew a future SS beyond 2013? Of course not. So really, Drew is a hole-plugger. Then what happens for 2014? We go through the same process again. At some point the team needs to make a move for stability at the position, and I’d prefer to get someone of some quality. On other words, not a Theriot.

    • You always need a backup though, which Drew can be in 13 and maybe beyond. I say figure out a long-term solution to SS when you can afford to. In the meantime, stick it out with Furcal

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