It’s been a constant theme here on EM this offseason: the infield is going to be a nightmare pending a couple moves to fix it up. Presently, shortstop is manned by Rafael Furcal; a more than capable starter whose almost impending injuries are begging for someone more comparable than the late season aberration Pete Kozma to give him time off and possibly replace him if he hits the DL. However, the team hasn’t even been rumored to be interested in a backup shortstop this offseason and will apparently try its luck with the current set-up.
At second, the all-field no-hit Daniel Descalso is the favorite to start; a decision that will go uncontested after the Skip Schumaker trade. His primary backup will be Matt Carpenter, with Kozma and even Ryan Jackson being juggled around both middle infield slots.
Carpenter has only played five pro games at second, all of which were last year. The organization told him to work on learning the position in the offseason in hopes that they could get his bat into the lineup every day while getting at least serviceable fielding out of him.
The Cardinals have attempted to get their fans softened up to the idea of Carpenter at second, but their offseason interests point to them not having much confidence at all in his transition. First there was Mozeliak’s near-manic pursuit of 37 year-old Marco Scutaro that involved an offer even higher than the three-year, $20 million one Scuataro accepted with the Giants in order to stay closer to home. Then today, we hear from Strauss that the odds are about fifty-fifty that the team signs a Major League free agent and that there is “internal support” for a Nick Punto-type player. In other words, a second baseman who can hit better than Descalso, field better than Carpenter and maybe even back up Furcal at short.
Whatever they do, the Cards could only go up in regards to their middle infield. I don’t mean to harp on it too much since they’ve got potential All-Stars at every position but one and will get by just fine without another tune-up; but second base and backup shortstop are problems that could be easily and cheaply fixed. Here’s to hoping that they will be.