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Rafael Furcal on injured elbow: “It’s not getting better”

Mar 3, 2013, 8:41 AM EST

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Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal opted to rehab a torn ligament in his right elbow rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. So far, that decision has not worked out for anyone.

Furcal began experiencing renewed discomfort in his right elbow a couple of weeks ago in Cardinals camp and continues to feel pain whenever he tries to take another step in his spring workout program. This according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“What do you want me to do?” Furcal said this weekend. “It’s not getting better. I wish I could do whatever I could to make it better, so I could play. It’s very disappointing. I tried to push it a little harder. We’d better back up a little bit because I feel more pain.”

The Cardinals will either have to start Ronny Cedeno at shortstop or figure out a way to bring in someone else. Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson are the other uninspiring options in the St. Louis clubhouse.

  1. saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Shocker. Mozeliak once again craps out on the middle infield.

    • paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Feel free to list all of the fantastic options out there (and don’t bring up Andrus or Tulo, because both of their teams have said repeatedly that they are not available). Is Mo supposed to just magic-up a SS and 2B?

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        You don’t give $13 million to replacement-level, injury-prone players. If you don’t think there were better alternatives in December of 2011, then I can’t help you.

      • paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        Yes, but replacement level doesn’t describe Furcal at any point in his career.

        You can help though….you can answer the question. Who was this SS messiah the Cardinals should have obtained last off season or this one?

        If you are going to be myopic and focus on the one problem area the Cardinals have….then you’re a douche…yeah, let’s ignore the stellar OF, the great C, the great corner IFers and the uber deep staff and bullpen along with the best minor league system baseball….yeah, let’s harp on this one flaw….because, you know everyone is perfect.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        Name calling? Seriously? Okay, I’m the douche. Fine. Well put, counselor.

        As for who, I can go back and name names from that offseason, but I have the benefit of hindsight now.

        I can tell you that I thought $13 million for two years for a guy who very much looked finished the year before was a terrible decision. Seeing as how he put up a 1.3 WAR last year (replacement-level, by the way), in a year where he was about as healthy as the Cardinals could have hoped for, I think I was right.

        Why waste the resources on an injury risk with a very low ceiling? But what do I know, I’m just a douche, right?

        I never said that Mo was a bad GM, by the way. I said he’s been terrible at finding middle infield talent. I get that SS is a tough position to fill, but that does not justify wasting $13 million that could have been better spent. And 2B should not be so tough, but yet the Cardinals are, once again, trying to convert someone to the defensive position because of their inability to fill the role. I really hope Matt Carpenter can fill the role until Wong is ready, and I think the odds are good (since the bar has been set so low the last several years) that he can. What I am more confident in, though, is that Mo won’t find anyone outside of the organization who is any good.

        But I am sure you think Cedeno was a good signing, too. Talent-wise, he probably belongs in Quad Cities, but he’ll be in St. Louis because of a stupid contract.

      • natslady - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        Please not Pete F’ing Kozma. Please not Pete F’ing Kozma. Pretty please?

      • rmfp1978 - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        If anyones a douche its paperlions. He results to acting like a tough guy behind a computer screen when anyone critisizes the cardinal organization. Dont ever say anything about holliday he’ll go gangster on his keyboard

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        In fairness, you were probably wrong with whatever you said about Matt Holliday.

        I hear a lot crap talked about the guy, yet he has over-performed his contract by a large margin so far.

        The people crapping on Holliday now are probably the same people who thought Jason Bay was the better free agent LF that offseason. Oops.

      • paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:38 PM

        Go find the HBT post for the Cards signing of Cedeno, I called it a waste of $$ and a roster spot (just like the signings of Wiggington and Choate, all 3 are a waste of spots on the roster).

        You still haven’t suggested what else could have been done. You ripped Furcal for being injury prone and then suggested Hardy, well….Hardy can’t hit and at the time the Cardinals signed Furcal, Hardy had not played in 130 games/season since 2008. Texas won’t trade Andrus. Colorado won’t trade Tulo. Who else is available at SS? In case you haven’t noticed, the SS position at the MLB level is crap these days.

        Last year, Cardinal shortstops were actually mid-of the pack production-wise. They were 11th with a wRC+ of 96, but 23rd on defense (based on UZR). For all the whining, they’re SS haven’t been all that much worse than those on other teams. In terms of fWAR, Cardinal SS were just as good as those on the teams in the WS last year.

      • paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        FWIW, I said you would be a douche if you were only willing to assign blame for short-comings but not credit for the wealth of things that the Cardinals have done well the last several years. You are the one that decided you the characterization fit.

        You won’t find many people more critical of the Cardinals than I am, but I am also fair in my criticisms within the context of possible actions.

      • rmfp1978 - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:40 PM

        And I agree with a lot of stuff you post people have difference of opinion sometimes dont mean you have to come off like a tough guy. As far as holliday goes he does out perform his contract in the regular season idk his stats in the post season im sure you guys know them nothing standa out for me as memorable but thats not even my beef w him. He just lost me when he was complaining about the scheduling last season before they played the mets and then the next two days he was out with mysterious back problems. I get it your tired take a break and this might be the organizations fault but it seems like everytime he has an injury they say its just a minor problem like his thumb and then hes off for a significant amout of time and dont bring up how fast he returned from his apendectomy because thats what the media does “ive never seen a player return that fast after having an appendix removed”

    • spudchukar - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      First off your criticism of Furcal reeks of revisionist history. The truth is Furcal played admirably, and was instrumental in St. Louis’ success in 2011 and 2012. Without his contributions St. Louis would not be flying the 2011 WS banner, and would never have made play-offs in 2012. Also, his 2012 numbers are skewed due to the elbow injury as any honest appraiser should recognize.

      And it is extremely inaccurate to categorize Furcal as an injury riddled player. Actually the opposite is actually true, he had been remarkably durable with a 6-year stretch that is exemplary in the games played arena.

      No one has been more critical of Kozma pre-2012 than yours truly, but I ate crow last year as Kozma excelled in September, posting a .952 OPS while committing only 3 errors in 25 games, showing the Cards didn’t blunder drafting him.

      I do not know if he can repeat his September brilliance, most likely not, but he plays fearlessly, is an excellent base runner, has some serious pop, and has shown that perhaps he can harness the raw talent that got him a #1 draft selection. He sure deserves a chance.

      Cedeno, is nothing more than an insurance policy, and I for one am hardly excited about the acquisition, but recognize with the available options, he may very well be the best option.

      I say lets give Kozma, and perhaps even Ryan, (who should start in AAA for playing time) a good hard look into June, and if they falter, then adjust, but to criticize Mozeliak for bringing in Furcal, and then expecting him to continue at his 2012 level is nothing more than misplaced angst and childish in its reflection.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        If you seriously think that an 85 OPS+ and terrible defense is “performing admirably”, then I guess we are speaking different languages.

      • spudchukar - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        Wow, talk about cherry-picking! Furcal played for 2 months for St. Louis in 2012, hitting 7 HRs, 4 steals and posted a 102 OPS+, and solidified the SS position, that was floundering. Then in 2013, he got off to a great start in April and May before the elbow injury, where he levied .811 and .833 OPS+ and was named to the NL 2012 All-Star squad, so it wasn’t just me who thought he was performing admirably.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        Spud, you may want to re-check your dates there.

      • spudchukar - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        Correct you are Saints, about the dates that is, but that is about it.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      Mo knew the risks (as did we all around here) of signing Furcal at at an overpay and to think he didn’t have the foresight to see this as a likely scenario is just goofy.

      He knows what he has internally (and please – no Ryan Jackson talk, he’s not even on the radar unless Kozma and Cedeno fall off the face of the earth) and that’s what they’ll do with unless something happens on a trade front.

      This team has some great strengths and gaping flaws in the middle infield, nothing we didn’t know going in really.

      Starting pitching could be a major issue as well, they’re extremely thin in innings eaters and experience.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        I actually think that Garcia may have passed Jackson on the organizational depth chart.

        But no matter how you cut it, they paid $13 million for experience, and nothing more. Furcal is/was done being a productive Major Leaguer. His defense has been horrific for several years, and his offense is bad, too. All teams have that available to them internally for league minimum.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        I think you maybe right on Garcia but I don’t he’s any sort of long term solution on the major league level either.

        I think it’s fairly obvious they’re going to have to go outside the organization on this one, until then it’s alot of Band Aids on a compound fracture at short.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        Agreed on our minor league options (though they are all better than Cedeno, most likely), but I also don’t think you have to have an all star at every position. I just don’t like seeing a large financial commitment (for multiple years) on a guy with no ceiling and an obvious injury risk.

        It’s too bad Brendan Ryan was trouble in the clubhouse, because a superstar glove (with no ability to hit) for low dollars is probably perfect for this team. And say what you want about his bat, he’s probably the best defensive SS in the game right now.

        I don’t blame anyone for the lack of a quality SS on this team – good SS are very hard to find. I just don’t like signings like Furcal and Cedeno. That money (not that it is a lot for Cedeno, but he has a track record of being terrible) would be much better put to use in signing bonuses for international free agents.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        Mo obviously thinks Cedeno is a better insurance policy than anything they’ve got in house which is scary at best, I think we’re in for a heavy dose of he and Kozma for the time being.

        The Furcal signing never really bugged me too much, it’s hardly a crippler contractually and was a calculated risk but it sucks it’s that it looks like they’ll have to eat the remainder.

        Between he and Carpenter they’re looking at around 20 million bones – or about 17+ % of their payroll going to non contributors.

        The Cards definitely have issues, beyond the middle infield quandary (although excited about the kids) I’m still not sold on their starting pitching – too much unknown and alot of fragility.

  2. paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Gee Raffy….I don’t know, surgery to have the bone spurs that are causing the pain and inflammation seems like a good option.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      No shit. You tried not doing the surgery and that doesn’t seem to be working. Why not try the surgery? I guess he really doesn’t want to do whatever he can to make it better. But, I think Kozma can still work out for you.

  3. hustleandflomax - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Paperlions, Mo should know where that tree is that starting shortstops grow on. Mozeliak needs to be fired!!

    • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Not fired, but Theriot and Furcal were foreseeable mistakes that should have been avoided.

      But, no fear, we have Cedeño ready to fill the void!

  4. Old Gator - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    It’s 9:30 AM EST – where the hell is Bill Baer? Not even five or six blogs yet. We’re not paying him with our arduous reading of the advertising on here to drink his dinner and sleep through his Sunday morning obligations.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      That’s what happens when dudes are overeager. No endurance…but he’ll probably come back tonight for another helping of bread pudding.

  5. hustleandflomax - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Actually, I agree with you on that Saints. They should not have extended Furcal. Dude just cant stay healthy. I thought Descalso played well at short the few times he played there last yr. No more Kozma, please.

  6. bkh405 - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Why not give the Koz a shot. I thought his post season play showed a guy that stood up to the challenge and really came through.

    He can’t be any worse than a healthy Furcal anyway.

  7. hustleandflomax - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Spudchukar, on the other hand if you look at Furcal’s games played over the past several years, he.was still a gamble. Especially now that he is in his mid-30s. The Cards way overpaid for him when you consider ‘value’. I agree that he was a huge part of the 2011 push, but was still on borrowed time given his injury history. 2 yrs was not a wise investment. Especially at 6.5 mil per year. There may not have been a whole lot more appealing options but thats not a good excuse to overpay someone whom you know could go down any minute and youll have to find a replacement anyways.

    • spudchukar - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Was it a risk. Yep, you bet. But by your own admission, what were the other options. As my earlier posts indicate, he does not have an “injury-riddled past”, and granted you did state recently. But I believe the Cards had to go to the 13 mil in order to secure him. Just recognizing the market is scarce still avoids the obvious. There were no better options. So when your back is to the wall, sometimes you have no other choice but to overpay, particularly when it is a position as vital as SS, on a team that has the bucks, and is a viable contender.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        Not spending $13 million on value you already had in house was an option. In fact, it was the better option.

        I am sure you hate advanced metrics, but Pete Kozma (who I realize played over his head), provided more value in about a month last year than Furcal did in 5 months. And, yes, that includes his hot start.

        You can claim I am using “revisionist history” (I am revising nothing, by the way), but I didn’t like the signing when it happened. I was okay with the trade for him, because we gave up nothing and HAD to replace Theriot, who was beyond awful.

        You guys keep asking what Mo could have done – what options did he have? Well, he could have traded for JJ Hardy instead of trading for Theriot back in 2010. Now blast me for 20/20 hindsight, but you guys are the ones who were demanding alternatives.

      • paperlions - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        Ah, yes….now you are definitely revising history. When Hardy was available, he hadn’t played 130 games in a season since 2008, and he generally hit for crap year in and year out…..as bad as Furcal was offensively last year, largely because he was hurt, a healthy JJ Hardy was far worse at the plate. Hardy isn’t really an upgrade over the Cardinals’ current options. Another guy that can’t hit, and that plays some good defense when he’s healthy.

        Yes, the Cardinals have not made the best decisions at SS the last few years…in part because there have not been many good decisions to be made. The position is a disaster at the MLB level right now. But blasting Mo for not over-paying for a modest upgrade at SS while ignoring all the things he has done right (including not overpaying an aging 1B), is myopic.

      • saints97 - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:09 PM

        In the four years prior to Minnesota putting Hardy on the trading block, Hardy averaged 128 games per season and he was 28. In the four years prior to St. Louis giving Furcal $13 million for two years, he had average 92 games per season and was 34.

        And if you are comparing their defense, then, again, I am speaking different languages. They are not even close.

        Over their careers, Furcal has a slight edge offensively, but it is not the gap you apparently think it is.

        You guys can cherry-pick Furcal’s numbers all you want, but the fact remains that his offense and defense have been pretty awful since joining the Cardinals. And that was totally predictable. Not as predictable as Theriot’s rotten defense, but it was predictable.

        And I never said Mo did a bad job in general. All I said was that he has not done well (crapped out) on middle infielders. You seem to disagree, but you have not shown me a good middle infield move that he has made.

      • gostlcards5 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        Defensively, I think he has been above average at worst since coming in the end of 2011. Admittedly, I do NOT know anything about Furcal’s defensive numbers, so the stats could prove me wrong on this, but I am not sure I would say his defense has been “awful” since he came to StL. I watch a lot of games, and maybe I’m only going by the “eye test”, but I have watched him make plays and have arm strength going to 1B that average MLB shortstops don’t/can’t.

  8. astrozac - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Cedeno, Kozma, Descalso, Jackson, there are plenty of mix and match possibilities, where you don’t have to immediately go get another shortstop or second baseman…

  9. swmocardsfan - Mar 3, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Imagine that…surgery recommended to fix this injury is ignored and now it isn’t healed??? Who would have freaking thought it? I bleed Cardinal red, but this is totally on management. I respect Furcal’s right to refuse the surgery and try an alternative method to fix the injury, but Mo has to have someone on standby if that gamble craps out and Ronny Freaking Cedeno nor the Kozma-naut are the right answer. The middle infield has been rough for years and we have been able to get by, but the Central is getting tougher because the Reds are built to last as much as I hate to admit it and the Pirates are making improvements, so the Cards are going to have to invest. Kolten Wong is going to be a great middle infielder but he could still be a year or so out and Matt Carpenter, as talented as he is, will have struggles adjusting to second base if that is truly what Matheny goes with. Could be a long up and down year for Cards fans…

    • jwbiii - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Rest and rehab seemed to be the plan from the beginning.

      Rafael Furcal will NOT undergo surgery to repair damaged ligament in elbow. #STLCards hopeful he can recover with 4-6 weeks of rest.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 1, 2012

      • swmocardsfan - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        @jwbiii, you are correct. Rest and rehab was the plan from the beginning…however the type of injury he had is the injury that the Tommy John surgery has proven successful in repairing, and it was ignored. Like I said, I respect Furcal’s choice to decline surgery, but there has to be a plan B in a situation like this if St. Louis expects to contend again in the NL.

  10. denny65 - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    Hey, Cards, you can have the Mariners’ Brendan Ryan (he came up through your organization, after all). No, really, you can have him back. Cheap. No, wait, the Ms will pay you!

    Of course, you don’t expect him to actually, you know, hit, do you? He’s a g-o-o-d shortstop, really, wide ranging and all that.

  11. stlouis1baseball - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    This situation is alreaady pissing me off. Dude should have had the surgery. We discussed this on HBT previously. And now…look. I get that Furcal only has what….2…maybe 3 decent years left. I understand he would lose an entire season. Now he is going to lose this season AND it’s going to linger into next year. Why the hell didn’t the Cardinals brass make the call? Why was it Furcal? If I am paying a dude…he works for me. He is going to do what I feel is in the best interest of the team. And surgery was in the best interest. Bad decision by everyone involved.
    Now? Pete Kozma!
    Happy…Happy…Joy…Joy.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Are you crazy? You can’t make someone have surgery! Shesus, talk about unreasonable employer demands. And, lay off Kozma. He’s young, and he’s not a giant ball of suckiness or anything. You could have much worse to work with.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        All the organization can do is suggest a path of rehab/surgery to the player, it’s the players call on getting (or not getting) cut on or not.

        As for the Kozma-naut and everything he’s done thus far in his 6 year career (less a few weeks in September last year does) it does point in the direction of a “giant ball of suckiness”.

        I’m pulling for him for sure I just think it’s going to be a massive case of overexposure.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        Not crazy. Just frustrated with the “wait and see approach they are taking.” Working out wonderfully. As for Pete Kozma…what the hell? Is he a family member? LOL!
        Dude played admirably for 5 or 6 hugely critical minutes. I thank him for that.
        Now…we will get a taste for a full season. As I stated…happy…happy…joy…joy.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        “You can’t make someone have surgery! Shesus, talk about unreasonable employer demands.”
        I understand this. I also feel if I am paying a dude millions upon millions nothing short of “personal favors” is unreasonable. After all…who signs the checks?

  12. okwhitefalcon - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Lots of Furcal talk from Joe Strauss on the Morning After radio show today, good stuff.

    Scroll to Segment 2, listen here:

    http://www.insidestl.com/insideSTLcom/RadioShows/TheMorningAfter/tabid/88/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/10213/Mondays-Show-Audio—The-Weekend-That-Was-Locally.aspx

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