(Baseball StL) -- The Cardinals have had to deal with a number of injuries this year, but the loss of Rafael Furcal may be the one that ends up costing them a playoff spot. Even though his offensive numbers had tailed off, Furcal remained a terrific defensive shortstop. The Cardinals infield defense has suffered badly since he went on the disabled list.
It was assumed that Daniel Descalso would be the everyday shortstop in Furcal’s absence, but Descalso has been a bit of a disappointment defensively. He certainly has the throwing arm to handle the position, and he’s made a couple of eye-popping plays, but he’s also botched some routine plays. Pete Kozma got the start last night in San Diego and made a throwing error on a routine play that eventually led to five runs for the Padres. Given the current shaky state of the Cardinals starting rotation, they desperately need the defense to be solid behind them.
You have to wonder why we haven’t seen more of Ryan Jackson. Wasn’t he suppose to be the hot prospect at short who would eventually become the starter when Furcal’s contract expires next year? Jackson had a solid year at Memphis, hitting .272 with 10 homeruns. He’s been a much better offensive player than Kozma in the minors. Kozma hit just .232 this year in Memphis. Jackson was the starter at shortstop in Memphis when both he and Kozma played on that team together. But now, Kozma seems to be rated ahead of Jackson. At least he’s getting considerably more playing time.
The Cardinals may have to address the shortstop position this offseason. Furcal is expected to be back next year, but there’s a chance he may need surgery on elbow. Who knows how he would bounce back from that. He’ll be 35 years old next month. The Cardinals brain trust can’t be overly enamored with Kozma, Jackson or Descalso as a shortstop. If the team is going to survive this death march to the end of the regular season they’re going to need one of those guys to step it up, and help the pitching staff with some better defensive play.