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Cards Still Searching For Their Shortstop of the Future

August 26, 2011
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The Cardinals are in the midst of a seemingly never-ending search for a quality, all-around shortstop that will stick around for a substantial period of time. It has now been four years since fan-favorite SS David Eckstein left the club, and since then STL has not been able to find a suitable replacement. Sure, the front office has tried. Cesar Izturis was brought in to start during the 2008 season, and he finished the year with a .628 OPS. Not exactly my idea of production. Then during the ’08 offseason, the Cardinals’ acquired Khalil Greene from the San Diego Padres. That move resulted with Khalil’s demotion to Triple A before the season’s end due to lack of production and difficulty controlling his emotions. 2010 presented Brendan Ryan the chance to start at short, and he finished the year with a .223 batting average, although he was arguable the National League’s top defensive shortshops throughout the year. Also since 2009, top prospect Tyler Greene has been given some opportunities to shine at SS, but he has never played a full MLB season and has not proved himself during his stints up in the big leagues, posting just a .213 career batting average. This year the Cards’ brought in Ryan Theriot, who excelled at hitting but mightily struggled on the defensive side. Because of the negatives Theriot’s defense was bringing to the club, the Cards’ traded for LA Dodgers’ Rafael Furcal. I’m assuming Ryan Theriot will never regain his starting spot after his midseason demotion. Since the trade, Furcal is batting around .230 and has played solid defense. But he is 33, so his career is inevitably on the decline and probably not the best option to build around. So what will the Cards’ do at shortstop in the future? So I’ve got three suggestions:

1.) Let Tyler Greene play everyday this September and see if he can produce. Greene has struggled while in the MLB, but this might just be attributed to lack of consistent playing time. Greene is hitting well over .330 at AAA Memphis playing everyday. So it just doesn’t make sense that he would be just .200 hitter in the big leagues. Since the Cards’ are already out of contention, they should bring Tyler up and see what he can do in a starting role instead of just utilizing him off the bench. Give him a one-month audition to win the job next year.

2.) Let Rafael Furcal go. I mean no disrespect to Furcal, but I don’t think it is in our best interests to keep him. He has played at a solid level for us during the second half, but his 2011 contract is worth 13 million and he will probably want a decent amount to resign. With money already tight with the other big free agents we will have on our roster, the Cards’ do not need to be big spenders on an aged shortshop like Rafael Furcal.

3.) If the front office in St. Louis does not feel that Tyler Greene will ever be our starting shortstop, the Cardinals should look around and try find a young shortstop who is starting to find their identity at the big league level. If that doesn’t pan out, the Cards’ should have an open competition between utilityman Daniel Descalso and Ryan Theriot. This would not be the ideal situation being that Descalso is not a natural shortstop and Theriot was not impressive this year. However, we need a cheap contract because most of the payroll will be tied up with the core players.

-KG

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