Since it appears that Skip Schumaker is about to be activated from the DL, after missing nearly a month of the season, it is time to address an important topic related to the Cardinals second baseman.
Quick picking on Skip Schumaker
It’s not his fault that Tony La Russa doesn’t use the running game like his predecessors, taking away an important dimension from the top of the batting order.
It’s not his fault that John Mozeliak opted to provide more offensive production from the corner outfield spot, sacrificing a lot of defense in order to do so, rather than pursue a more potent bat to play play second base (Dan Uggla for example).
It’s not his fault that the 2011 lineup features two first baseman (see above), a second baseman playing third base, a shortstop who should be playing second base and leaving a revolving door at second base. It’s amazing the Cardinals are anywhere near .500, much less leading their division by 2 1/2 games.
Even considering the brutal start to his 2010 season, Schumaker rebounded nicely to finish the year at .265. A small drop in July and September helped hide some pretty solid production in June and August. Schumaker is not the first player to struggle after signing a relatively large contract, not will he be the last.
His bat seems more suited to the bottom of the batting order, where he finds himself in 2011. And no, that is not a criticism. Compared to the other second basemen on the roster, he doesn’t strike out as often – 1 in 10 plate appearances which is actually an improvement over last year. He might even be able to bunt, although we don’t know that because he hasn’t been called on to do that often.
Even though he is a singles hitter, he has one fewer double than Albert Pujols, even though he’s only appeared in 14 games. In fact, only Matt Holliday, Gerald Laird, Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso are hitting doubles at a faster rate than Schumaker. Too bad he isn’t hitting more singles so that .370 slugging percentage would look a little more impressive.
Although this is becoming somewhat of a trademark of the end of La Russa’s managerial career, I can’t imagine another player that is put in a more difficult spot that Schumaker. He is asked to play a position that highlights his weakness (range) but totally hides his greatest asset (arm). He’s a left handed hitter, which makes hitting before or after Colby Rasmus a strategic faux pas. He simply can’t win, except with the fans. And there he should be a winner.
The ’60s Cardinals had Phil Gagliano and Ed Speizio. Whitey Herzog’s teams had Tito Landrum and Tom Lawless. There should be room for a guy like Schumaker on the team today, just not as an every day second baseman.