Here are nine potential shortstops Cards could pursue to replace Kozma

ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals haven’t changed the way they look at the shortstop position. They still consider defense the priority at the position. Still, they’d like a little bit of offense.

Pete Kozma didn’t even give them that over the last four months of the regular season and the playoffs. After a solid April and May, Kozma declined into one of baseball’s least productive offensive players, if not the least productive.

His numbers after May, including the postseason: .179/.242/.226 with 28 runs and 16 RBIs (he had 21 RBIs in April and May) in 106 games. Kozma got on base 72 times after May. By comparison, Matt Carpenter reached 210 times.

So no one could have been surprised when Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday the club will seek an upgrade this winter.

“If we can find the right type of combination in a player where you still get defense and you can upgrade at the offensive standpoint, that would make sense,” Mozeliak said.

Though Kozma’s defense was solid and even spectacular on occasion, finding an overall upgrade shouldn’t be difficult even though quality two-way shortstops aren’t exactly plentiful these days.

How much of an improvement, of course, will depend in large part on what the Cardinals will spend. Here’s a look at nine candidates who figure to be linked to the Cardinals as the hot-stove season heats up, ranked by their overall game and not their contract status. Age is how old they’ll be on Opening Day 2014.

Click here to read the analysis of each player.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.