Our initial goal was to have this series done by say…Turkey Day or so but in my mind President’s Day makes a lot more sense. And here’s why — the Cardinals had no clue how the last three months were going to play out and the results to me were still going to be skewed by the playoffs.
I can now look back at the last campaign without any distractions, but the first mission proves to be a difficult one. How do you judge a player who has no history at his position? Who do you compare him with? And most importantly to this exercise, what stats weigh more in the grand scheme of things?
Welcome to St. Louis Speculation 101!
While Nick will have great answers to the 2B questions, I’m left searching for numbers that make sense to my stat-less way of thinking. This proved to be the best model to illustrate how my brain works. For the life of me, I can’t seem to put offensive numbers and defensive parameters together in a neat package. Combining the team offense with positional defense gets the job done for what I hope to prove.
Skip Schumaker this time last year was not guaranteed much heading into 2009 Spring Training. Then the chatter started, beginning with posts both here and here that left plenty of question marks. Mike’s entry started the head-scratching, and Dan’s contribution only added more fuel to the fire. I still wonder what could have been if the Redbirds had used ST as an audition rather than a rapid-fire learning session, but the results can not be understated given the outcome.
Enjoy the show as your feature presentation is about to begin!
Schumaker should get a solid A for just about every category after making the transition from 4th outfielder to starting next to AP. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Skip fan but many bets would have been lost had someone told me that St. Louis makes the playoffs with No. 55 still starting at second.
With that in mind, my rankings are set up a bit odd this time around. Just how good (and cheap) was the production at the top of the line-up? Grade A if you ask me since Schumaker didn’t miss a beat on the offensive side of the field. He is a strong bet to receive a nice raise this year and a potential long-term deal may not be far behind, especially when you factor in these numbers.
Felipe Lopez from that list stands out, but Skip need not worry about any competition this March. Lopez would be a nice addition for the roster, but his defensive shortcomings make him primarily an insurance policy that is still too expensive. Derrick Goold’s take from last month paints a clear picture but man, I say let’s make a deal that benefits both parties today!
Now that my rant is over, back to the task at hand. Schumaker also gets grades from me in two remaining categories: Defense and Line-up. The first is actually harder to score given preconceived feelings about the experiment that has become a reality. The Secret Weapon earned his paycheck and then some last season by transforming Skip into a serviceable MLB 2B.
Again I admit to lacking in the stat sense of the game but passing the eye test still means a lot from my living room. The Cardinals have a double play combo with potential to stick around much longer than just the upcoming campaign. The credit has to be given where it is due and while Schumaker gets an A for effort, he scores a B with plenty of room for improvement. (On a side note, TLR and the rest of the St. Louis brain trust gets an A+ for creativity)
Rounding out my score, the one area where I have trouble is the line-up. All fans know who bats first, but I want the missing piece of the puzzle as well. Skip’s move to second ultimately opened a long-term space in the outfield where Matt Holliday now resides. With a very potent 3-6, my fear always comes back to the beginning. Schumaker has proven he can get on base in front of the big guns, but will the stop sign ever be lifted? Yup, whether or not it is his fault, a grade of C is all I could muster due to one stat.
Four. Nope, that is not even the number of times a base was stolen by the primary lead-off man. It is, however, the combination of both attempts and makes — ranking him tied for ninth on his own team in that category. Yes, I realize the team and player both had a great 2009, but a final tally of a B leaves room for doubt especially when talking about payroll for the upcoming decade.
That is not what this series is about, and I plan on devoting plenty of time to that very subject in the near future. My intention wasn’t to use the entire post on a single player, but honestly only Julio Lugo deserves even a little print. His grade is incomplete due to coming over mid-season and not knowing exactly how to classify him in terms of position. The rest of the gang is better off employed elsewhere, and that leads us to where we started.
Adam Kennedy found new life back on the West Coast and turned it into another year in the sun. As William Yoder speaks my mind, AK seems destined to be a bridesmaid. He wasn’t the first choice for the lowly Nats, and his release from the Cards played a role in the biggest surprise of ’09. I guess this proves we should be thankful for life’s small favors and that a happy clubhouse trumps $ every time.