Rafael Furcal opted against undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in August, choosing instead to rest and rehab his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, but now seven months later the Cardinals shortstop is going under the knife.
Today the Cardinals announced that Furcal will have Tommy John surgery and is expected to be out for 6-8 months, which almost surely means his season is over before it even started. Positive offseason reports about Furcal’s recovery progress convinced the Cardinals not to invest heavily in another shortstop plan, so now they’re left with Pete Kozma or Ronny Cedeno as in-house options to replace him.
Cedeno is a veteran with a solid glove, but he’s hit just .247 with a .290 on-base percentage and .357 slugging percentage in 779 career games through age 29. Kozma played shockingly well stepping into the lineup for Furcal down the stretch last season, but his numbers in the minors have consistently been terrible–including a .223 average and .610 OPS at Triple-A–and there’s little to suggest he’s suited to play regularly in the majors.
And as a 35-year-old shortstop set for major elbow surgery Furcal’s career is now in jeopardy.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.