When shortstop Rafael Furcal made his first start for the Cardinals last season on Aug. 1 in Milwaukee, third baseman David Freese said he felt this jolt of energy to his left, a mix of range, spunk and kinetic edge.

Freese pulled his new teammate aside in the clubhouse.

"Whatever you have, whatever you're bringing here right now," Freese recalled telling the nimble fielder, "we need that the rest of the way."

There is a name for whatever Furcal was bringing.

It's improved defense.