Quit picking on Skip

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

Here is a young man that is doing everything he can to be a productive major league player.   It’s not his fault that Tony La Russa tried to convert him into a second baseman.

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.

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3 Responses to Quit picking on Skip

  1. Dave says:

    Great post – Skip is the kind of player that every team would love to have. He’s the guy who says, “just put me in coach!”

    Not many big leaguers these days who have that attitude.


  2. I read the headline, and thought you were referring to (St. Louis native) Skip Caray for some reason. (As you know, Skip tried to avoid sounding like his dad, and ended up, I think, announcing like Jack Buck. I enjoyed all three, of course.)

    Apropos of only that: This story came out after Harry died. Harry and Jack were working one spring training, and Skip was along for the trip. The Cardinals were playing, I believe, the White Sox, who had a catcher named Jerry McNertney. And because Harry, Jack and Skip had been out the night before, and at least two of those three may still not have been feeling any pain, Harry and Jack had an impossible time pronouncing “McNertney.” Their mispronunciations got worse and funnier as the game went on, to the point where Harry and Jack announced he had been replaced in the game, even though he was still in the game. (You can get away with that in radio, of course.)


  3. So the Cards need a shortstop? Want Betancourt? (Reminiscent of Shawon Dunston in his early days, but Betancourt is not a major league hitter.)


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