With the latest setback for Rafael Furcal likely knocking him out for the early part of the season, if not longer, there has been a lot of vitriol spewed in Furcal's direction. But is it really warranted?
According to Jennifer Langosch, back in 2012, when he suffered the injury, Furcal was examined by team medical director George Paletta who diagnosed him with a grade 2 UCL strain. Paletta did not recommend surgery, but instead recommended aggressive therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections. Furcal was re-evaluated a month later and the Cardinals saw enough improvement to continue that course.
Surgery was never an option at that time, as echoed by GM John Mozeliak yesterday when he stated "At the time, you couldn’t have found a surgeon who would have recommended surgery, so I don’t think that was an option.”
Did Furcal experience pain during his rehab or any other indications that this course of treatment was not working? We do not know for sure, but everything seemed to be going fine until Furcal made a sidearm throw last Thursday, which appears to have led to new ligament damage.
So, we cannot blame Furcal for the Cardinals predicament. Sure, he did not want to have surgery, but none of the doctors consulted recommended surgery anyway.
No, the real blame here falls on the Cardinals for not having an adequate backup plan.
The Cards must have known there was a risk that this rest and rehab process would not work, but the only steps they took to put a backup plan in place was to sign Ronny Cedeno.
Now the Cardinals have a hole to fill in their lineup, possibly for the entire season, and the best they can come up with is some combination of Cedeno, Pete Kozma and possibly Ryan Jackson. None of whom inspire confidence.
Perhaps the Cards can swing a trade either now or around the trade deadline, but they will have lost what little leverage they might have had.
In any case, the Cardinals have managed to win without a quality shortstop in the past and it looks like they will have to do so again this year.