Jennifer Langosch broke the news this morning and it was confirmed by Derrick Goold that Rafael Furcal will undergo Tommy John surgery, as soon as next week, which will knock him out for all of the 2013 season.
With that issue finally settled, albeit in a bad way, the Cardinals need to move forward and, as I see it, the they have 3 options:
1. Go with what they've got
Sure none of Ronny Cedeno, Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson don't inspire confidence as the Cardinals full-time option at short, but, as my blogging cohorts at Viva el Birdos point out, the Cards have had worse shortstops and succeeded.
While it may not be the best option, going with the current triumvirate for this season gives the Cardinals time to sort out their strengths and (other) weaknesses. Although the Cardinals are said to have an abundance of pitching, it will take them time to sort it out and determine if they want to trade some of that pitching to fill their shortstop hole.
They can then address the shortstop situation next offseason.
2. Make a move now
Another option would be to try to shore up the shortstop position now (or before the season starts). The Cardinals are nearing a decision as to who their 5th starter will be. Once that decision is made, could they use the "loser" of that battle as trade bait for a shortstop?
Texas is looking for pitching after recently losing Martin Perez to injury and they have stud prospect Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings to replace their current shortstop Elvis Andrus. Colorado is also in need of pitching and they have Josh Rutledge capable of taking over for Troy Tulowitzki at short.
However, are the Cardinals prepared to take on Tulowitzki's salary--he's owed $144 million over the next 8 years (including a $4 million buyout of his 2021 option). Andrus' salary is a bit more reasonable, but he is only signed through 2014 and the Cardinals would probably want to sign him to an extension.
3. Make a move in July
To split the difference between the first two options, the Cardinals could decide to make a move to acquire a shortstop in July. That is how they acquired Furcal a few years ago.
This option would give the Cardinals time to see who establishes himself as their 5th starter and thereby help the Cards to better identify their trade chips. Also, teams are always looking for pitching for the stretch run and this would give the Cardinals more leverage in trade negotiations.
Finally, if the Cardinals cannot reach an agreement on an extension with Adam Wainwright and if they are out of contention, they could flip Wainwright for a young shortstop that can fill the position for several years.
Basically, it would give the Cardinals more time to sort out their options, while also giving them more leverage than an offseason trade.
Overall, I think the Cardinals will go with the third option and make a trade for a shortstop in July as it makes the most sense, given the circumstances. Until then, we'll just have to live with 3+ months of below replacement level play at short.