As many as six contenders are lacking at shortstop. Let's take a look.
- Rays: The Rays have been employing Reid Brignac at shortstop lately, though Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez are also capable. None of them are hitting, though Brignac's defense is a plus and Rodriguez has some pop.
- Brewers: The Brewers have used Yuniesky Betancourt at short, with Craig Counsell pitching in. The numbers say Betancourt has been terrible both offensively and defensively.
- Cardinals: Ryan Theriot has been manning shortstop for the Cards, and his bat has been more than acceptable. However, he's probably better-suited defensively for second base.
- Reds: They've used the Paul Janish/Edgar Renteria tandem, with the 28-year-old Janish getting more playing time. Janish is strong defensively, and since the Reds have the best offense in the league they might be able to tolerate his struggles with the bat. Prospect Zack Cozart is hitting .317/.361/.498 at Triple-A, but the Reds are not at the point of making a move yet.
- Pirates: The Bucs have been searching for a long-term answer at short for a while now, but right now they have Ronny Cedeno. Brandon Wood is showing some signs of life this month, and he could be an option at shortstop. The Pirates also have Chase d'Arnaud playing well at Triple-A.
- Giants: Miguel Tejada was signed as the team's shortstop, but it's rookie Brandon Crawford at present. He's strong with the glove but doesn't provide much offense and skipped Triple-A upon his call-up.
All four NL Central contenders are weak at shortstop, so if one of the clubs acquires a prize like J.J. Hardy it also takes an option away from direct rivals. The Orioles aim to talk extension with Hardy before the All-Star break. If that possibility falls through with time to spare before the July 31st deadline, Hardy will be a hot commodity.
A couple of top options in Jose Reyes and Stephen Drew appear to be off the board, since the Mets and Diamondbacks are in contention. Jamey Carroll, Clint Barmes, and Rafael Furcal (if healthy) may be available.