The latest news out of Spring Training is that Cardinals short stop Rafael Furcal is hurting, again.
According to Derrick Gould of the Post-Dispatch, Furcal continues to be hampered by pain in his right elbow.
As Furcal put it himself, "It still hurts. A lot."
Of course, by now we should expect an injury to Furcal. Last year he missed 41 games, he missed 75 in 2011 and he missed 65 in 2010 and, at 35 years old, he's not going to magically get healthier.
Based on all that, one would have expected the Cardinals to have a backup plan. Someone to fill in while Furcal is on the shelf.
Instead, we have Ronny Cedeno, Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson.
First dibs on the short stop job will probably fall to Cedeno--he of the $1.15 million contract and career WAR of -(yes, negative)1.6. Cedeno did a decent job as a utility infielder for the Mets last year (.259/.332/.410 in 166 at bats) and he did start at short for two years for the Pirates from 2010-2011. But there is a reason why the Pirates have not had a winning record for 20 years. Because they continually start players like Ronny Cedeno.
Once Cedeno proves that he is no better than a replacement level player, the Cardinals will probably turn to Kozma. The Cards caught lightning in a bottle when Kozma hit .333/.383/.569 down the stretch last year, but that was probably just a small sample size (72 at bats) aberration. Truth is, Kozma is a career .236/.308/.344 hitter in the minors and will probably not hit enough in the majors to justify a starting job.
Which leaves us with Ryan Jackson. Jackson is regarded as a better fielder and has a better minor league resume than Kozma with a career .267/.335/.370 line. But, what does it say when the Cardinals consider him lower on the depth chart the the light hitting Kozma.
So, with a little over a month left before opening day, the Cardinals are left with an ailing short stop and 3 below replacement level options as his backup. The Cards are hoping that Furcal will be ready by opening day, but, given his history, they should have had a better backup plan in place.