(KMOV.com) - Last offseason, almost immediately after the Cards watched Albert Pujols sign with the Angels, GM John Mozeliak got to work filling holes on the roster. One of them was bringing back veteran, yet fragile, shortstop Rafael Furcal.
The then 34-year old got a two year deal worth $14 million. Six million the first year (2012), seven million the second year (2013) plus one million for a signing bonus. It was a calculated risk at the time. No way after losing Pujols could the Redbirds afford to go with someone like Tyler Greene as their starter there.
Halfway through that deal, it's difficult to evaluate exactly how it's shaped out. Lest we forget, Furcal was indeed an All Star this past season (.275 avg with a .337 on-base percentage before the break). But we also can't forget the fact his elbow gave up on him towards the end of the season...forcing the club to go with Pete Kozma as its starter during the home stretch.
Where that leaves this team heading into 2013 is problematic. You've got a talented, yet aging, Furcal set to make $7 million. You've got a guy (Kozma) who was nearly out righted off the 40-man roster before saving his value with an impressive September and October.
Neither can be relied on as a starter. No way. Furcal needs a platoon partner in the worst way and Kozma, to be blunt, just isn't good enough.
So what does Mozeliak do?
Get another veteran who is willing to be a bench player and accept sporadic playing time while just waiting for the possibility that someone gets hurt? I hardly think that solves the problem. Anyone willing to accept such a role clearly isn't good enough to start everyday on a championship caliber team.
Does Mozeliak attempt to acquire a legitimate everyday starter? If so, what do you do with Furcal? He's under contract, remember? I doubt you would use him in a utility role. Would another team be willing to take him on as long as the Cards pay most of his salary?
This isn't an easy situation to solve. But it does need solving. There is no way you can enter 2013 with the status quo at the position. The Cards were extraordinarily fortunate to get the production they got from Pete Kozma in September (.343 batting average, .392 on-base percentage) and October (.353 OBP). I highly doubt they want to test fate again with him.
It's hard to tell exactly what Mozeliak will do. Stephen Drew is the most attractive free agent. Elvis Andrus is the most attractive trade target. Whether their (or their team's) demands will meet what the Redbirds are willing to offer remains to be seen.