Apr 24, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Tony Campana (1) steals second base as St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker (55) takes the throw in the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Schumaker hops on board the second base merry-go-round

If the St. Louis Cardinals were limited in a position going into the 2012 season it was the same one they’ve been weak in for several seasons, second base. It has not been developed from within and has been filled with stop gap players for several years now. It is fortunate that the team has so many different players who can pick up the slack left behind by the now trio of players who have started at the position in the first 18 games of the season.

Skip Schumaker jumped on the second base merry-go-round last night for the Redbirds. (Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE)

Skip Schumaker, who was supposed to compete for the position during Spring Training, received the start last night due to the complete ineptitude of the “platoon” of Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene up to this point. Schumaker missed most of Spring Training with an oblique injury and was injured in his first game back while playing center field. But, the first moment manager Mike Matheny had to insert Schumaker at the keystone, he did.

I can’t blame Matheny for his patience wearing thin. Descalso has a triple slash line of .205/.314/.341 while Greene has an almost mirror image line of .206/.308/.324. Last night, Greene misplayed a ball which was ruled a hit, but that was clearly a home scorer’s call. The ball was pretty much hit directly at Greene’s feet and his ole impression came up with nothing but air. He looked like a player learning the position and, well, he is.

Is this the route the Cardinals should have gone? Greene’s bat in AAA has yet to translate in the majors. In three separate stints he failed to impress former manager Tony La Russa enough to gain any real playing time. It can be argued that he was never given a fair shake. Some players need consistent at-bats and the confidence that the job is theirs. Greene never received this then and has not received it under Matheny either. Why?

Descalso is the main reason in 2012. I think he was propped up by a good season last year as a replacement for David Freese. Descalso had a very hot start to the spring and to me it seemed like the Cardinals’ brass took a liking to a platoon situation, though they claim that’s not what it was going to be. Only, it was. Greene has recently received a start or two against righties, but predominately the starter was determined based on the arm of the opposing pitcher plain and simple.

Enter Schumaker. His presence in this debate goes back to 2009 when he played 128 games at second base. He’s played 343 total games at second in his career, so the position is far from foreign to him. In fact he has played second base three times more than any other singular position he has manned (he has played 102 in LF, 102 in CF and 97 games in RF). In 2009, he hit .310 and provided the most stability the Cardinals had second base for some time. But in the end he was always looked at as a utility man. He was basically signed in the offseason and designate as such by general manager John Mozeliak. He is the perfect player to fill in for various positions due to injuries or days of rest because he won’t hurt you too much.

The problem is the inconsistency of the player at the position. Now that the Cardinals have expressed their displeasure with the ways things were going by slotting Schumaker in the position on Tuesday, it has to be a mental blow to Descalso and Greene. Descalso, who is also better suited for a utility role is clearly being told as such and Greene knows his days in St. Louis may be numbered.

So what can or should the Cardinals do?  I think they should just pick one of them to play second base and stick with the player. It is not like they are getting the benefit of a platoon. They can’t possibly want to keep three players seeing part-time work at the position. At the worst they have a player who will be decent at the position in the field and a .225-.250 hitter at the plate. At best the fielding is a little better than average and they get a .270 hitter.

In my Rants Daily column earlier today, staff writer Marilyn Green and one of our readers commented on this situation. Marilyn suggests Descalso is the right fit as he is the better glove of the bunch in her opinion and John, the commenting reader, suggested Schumaker for basically the same reason. Statistically it is Descalso, but John says his eyes tell him it is Schumaker. Before the season started I really hoped that Greene would run with the job because I felt he had the most upside at the plate and he could learn the position without being a major detriment. He hasn’t done either so far and I’m still not convinced it is because he never feels like it is his job.

That leaves Matheny with a decision. He can play the odds each night by spinning the merry-go-round and see who comes up or select one of the players to be the second baseman for 2012 and deal with the immediate inadequacy of one player and hope he gets better with more playing time. It is something that could be revisited at the trade deadline as John also suggests in his comments. I believe that is a good idea, though I am not sure there is a better answer out there for the taking. Another option is to wait and fill the role permanently for 2013 and beyond during the offseason. Whichever way the Cardinals go, second base is once again the weak link in the lineup and none of the three players seems to be the long term solution. They may not be the short term solution either. Get ready to spin the wheel Mike Matheny!

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Tags: Cardinals Daniel Descalso David Freese John Mozeliak Mike Matheny Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Tony La Russa Tyler Greene

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

    Interesting perspective on 2nd !    “I’m still not convinced it is because he never feels like it is his job”
    That statement could very well be true, the question is just like in your article, will Matheny give him a try and stick with him?  I would be very surprised if he did and even more surprised if Greene did well and started hitting to boot..  You have to admit, as harsh as TLR could be with the young kids, he did see things in them that others did not.. ie, Rasmus, Ryan, Mather, and many more..
    One mistake was Chris Perez  “thats another story” !
    I still feel Greene will never pan out to be what there looking for or even be close.. If that be the case, I would prefer to have the better bat at 2nd and use Skip, assuming he is back to his normal .278 or so.  DD as the utility,  Or you could reverse it for defense and use DD and hope his offence gets better.  Either way, assuming Craig, Berkman get back fully healthy and there are no major injuries by the deadline and pitching is holding, I would look for a trade.  One player that has always intrigued me is Kelly Johnson, he is only hitting around .232  with 4 HR, but is defense is whats needed. Here we would get an upgrade at 2nd with some power.
    One thing for sure, we will see by June.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

    I just think some consistency as to who plays 2B would be good no matter who Matheny chooses versus the hit or miss guessing game.
    Kelly Johnson would be a vast improvement and a very good rental. I’m not sure what the Blue Jays plans are but he would be a nice fit.

  • ahitz

    Cards probably won’t be in a hurry to fix second base with Kolten Wong coming up through the minors (mid 2013?).   You’re right about Greene, whose bat will have to get red hot to keep him from being trade fodder at the deadline this year.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

     It would be nice if somehow Wong progresses quicker so this becomes a non-issue. I’m guessing a 2B rental will be in St. Louis this summer.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

     @Chris_Carelli This is in hindsight now , After last nights game against the Brewers, I will stick to my gut and eyes and take Skip any day over Greene and DD or his fangraph stats.. 
    He made that great catch  only to not even get the out. Though the way he stopped the ball from going to the outfield looked real good.. Not that it would have been a double.. He was just slightly out of position..
    However, he gave back with that triple, he is showing he can still hit, yes its way to early, though I bet Skip is back at his usual .290 real soon, and I would prefer to have him and his bat on 2nd then DD. Greene no response..

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

    At this point, Matheny is going to split time with all of them (see today’s Rants Daily for a link to MLB.com). I’m very much against that, but he’s the manager. Good luck to him trying to juggle these guys.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

     @Chris_Carelli You must be talking about what Jenifer wrote in her column ?    I am in agreement with you, it should be one player as for now.. For me I would still take Skip over DD and Greene at least for now and see how it works out !

  • Marilyncolor

     @Chris_Carelli I couldn’t agree more.  Bad idea.  I long for the day when we get a real second baseman, to cure this obsession with Skip at a position he has never and will never be good at.  Numbers don’t lie, eyes do.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

     @Marilyncolor  @Chris_Carelli its clear you directed that towards me, numbers dont lie, thats why Skip has a career .290 average. Since Greene, DD, and Skip are all no good at second, lets play the guy with the bat..
    There is much more to the game then just fangraphs, clubhouse presence and maturity are extremely important.
    One thing he has is he is pure Cardinal, does everything they ask.
    I am not obsessed with Skip, but given our choices I will take him at 2nd any day TILL they finally get a real 2nd baseman.. 
    Matheny has a situation now having to juggle all three.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

     @johnwvideo  @Marilyncolor
     I’m not going to speak for Marilyn, but I think she’s more against Skip at 2B than Skip in general from our other discussions. Me, I think he’s certainly worth a roster spot, but his real value is using him all over the field, which is what I said in the offseason. I’d rather have him filling in here and there than cemented at second. That said, if Matheny insists on juggling, he better stay with the hot hand and that is Schumaker right now (two more RBI today).

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