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Should we share the Cardinals’ optimism for Garcia and Furcal?

On the St. Louis Cardinals injury front, general manager John Mozeliak feels both pitcher Jaime Garcia and shortstop Rafael Furcal have “positive outcomes” in their respective rehabs, as relayed by the Post-Dispatch.

However, the reports leave this reader with several questions.

Garcia was out from June 6 through August 18, then was returned to the disabled list early in the post-season. A tear in his rotator cuff and shoulder inflammation were mentioned as the culprits.

The left-hander traveled to multiple specialists this fall, with at least one recommendation for surgery offered. Ultimately, Garcia opted to follow a treatment program rather than go under the knife.

Yet, the Post article noted the following.

“Mozeliak said during his conversations with trainers Tuesday ‘the word surgery never came up’ for either Furcal or Garcia.”

The potential good news is that Garcia threw 25 pitches from the Busch Stadium mound on Monday and will move toward a normal off-season schedule.

While his ultimate 2013 availability won’t be known until spring training and beyond, the Cardinals have a number of other starting pitching options if Garcia cannot answer the bell. They include Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller.

The shortstop situation is murkier.

Furcal missed the final month and the entire 2012 post-season due to a tear in his elbow. Again, rest and rehab was chosen over surgery. Furcal had a September injection with a goal of returning in October, but those hopes did not come to pass.

While Mozeliak says he is encouraged by Furcal’s progress, the article notes that the 35-year-old has been home in the Dominican and is scheduled to return to the US to be re-evaluated by the Cardinals medical staff this coming weekend. As of yet, Furcal has apparently not even thrown a baseball.

Granted, we don’t have access to the same information as the club, but I have to wonder if the Cardinals want to make it appear to the outside world that they are less desperate for middle infield help than they may/should truly be.

The shortstop market is fairly thin, and especially this early in the off-season, prices are reportedly high.

Mozeliak was very clear in his on-the-record assessment of the Furcal “news.”

“It does mean we don’t have to chase a shortstop at this point,” the GM declared.

Given Furcal’s age, checkered medical history and the Cardinals’ thin middle infield, let’s hope that is more market conditioning talk than reality.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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7 Responses to “Should we share the Cardinals’ optimism for Garcia and Furcal?”

  1. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Kmac knew his fate. Furcal is looking at career options. He was having a rough year before he blew up his arm. He has his contract, and first place on the depth chart in March. Those were his best options. They share those options together, Raffy and Mo? Even the article says his status is to be determined by “training staff” in Florida, and hasn’t even been done yet. Raffy has a cannon. Its been shot allot. That tendon deteriorates with usage before it finally tears. The scare tissue tends to be rather brittle. It could have been scoped, and at least examined alla Pujols demand. Bad new there would have been career ending or at least career changing for Raffy. He is happy as it stands. Best situation for him, but an obvious question arises. It probably difficult maneuvering such a beast of a machine along the “5yr” plan………………….. There is a constant there in ST Louis that exists no where else. That is the communities shared expectation of a payroll with ownership. What ever BD can win against that is profit. He does well. When I pointed out AP demanded the trip to see Andrews for obvious reasons, (in his mind), the reasoning is now clear. Take them an hour to scope Furcal, No exactly where they stand……………………it doesn’t matter……… they get at least half that 7 million back and that isn’t recognized by the community at large. Just more bad luck. Kmac choosing rehab instead of surgery?
    They knew his future, why waste money………I mean he might be alright…….. So much activity resolved off shore……..makes you wonder…….sometimes…….

  2. blingboy says:

    The thing that I consider highly unlikely is he comes back like he was before and holds down a rotation spot because he’s better than the alternatives rather than because he has a contract through 2015.

    From Garcia’s point of view, given the career shattering potential of shoulder surgery, his best chance to hang in long enough to get another payday after 2015 may end up being trying to morph into a loogy. But I can’t see that happening and here’s why:

    From the Cardinals point of view, Westy’s insurance theory factors in. In other words, if they aren’t going to get close to full value out of him on the field over the next three years, wouldn’t it be better to get nothing at all out of him on the field and recoup a chunk of the money? They have other pitching options after all, and he has a contract going out several years, so perhaps with him it will be more about the money than anything else.

    If you aren’t buying that line of thinking, try this. Imagine the Cardinals going out and signing a loogy for 3 years/$22Million. When you stop laughing, think about it again.

    Garcia will be a starter or an insurance claim. Either/or. So if he’s a shitty starter, we’re stuck with it, however many hot young arms we’ve got.

  3. blingboy says:

    Off Topic:

    Anybody know how I can get a Rockford RiverHawks Jimmy Parque game worn jersey?

  4. blingboy says:

    As to Furcal, if we go into 2013 with a physically unreliable second baseman its far less of a problem than going in with a physically unreliable SS. So I’d make Furcal a 2B starting right now. It will also put less stress on the arm, and bow to the reality of his range.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Mo probably has a rue sense of these two situations.
    We have Garcia under guaranteed contract for 3 years. If we could get limited innings out of Garcia with a lighter workload as a reliever, we could prefer to avoid shoulder surgery as long as possible. There is probably no advantage to deciding right now. There is no real upside for Mo to discuss the situation with reporters this winter. Talking to reporters is not going to help his shoulder or make the 3 year contract disappear. We will just wait to see how Jaime feels in spring training and proceed from there.
    Furcal has had back pain for several years, so seems not an everyday player any longer. Furcal is a light bat for 2B. A platoon of Kozma and Furcal at SS may make the most sense.
    The Cards are blessed with up and coming middle infielders: Kozma; Jackson; Garcia; Wong; Starlin-Rod, etc. We are not in a desperate way for adding a SS.
    However Mo may not want to disclose that we may rely on rookies like Kozma, Jackson, Garcia, and Wong. Fans may not want to hear about us relying on rooks, so Mo may think it wise not to mention these prospects. So he winds up saying we could be ok with Furcal. What your fan base thinks is more important than what other teams think.
    I recall when Ozzie was told he needed shoulder surgery, IIRC. He played the next season anyway, releasing the ball quicker with less mustard. It was astounding. Maybe a wily vet like Furcal can figure a way around elbow surgery.
    If Furcal turns out to need surgery, its again best to wait until spring to announce this. Then we report surgery is necessary, but we are saved from hearing worries and whining from fans all winter.

  6. blingboy says:

    Good luck to Dickson playing for the Canned Hams or whoever it is in Japan.

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