I am actually not that surprised that Schumaker was able stick at second. The learning curve at second is high, with lots of variations on covering second and other non-fielding duties to adjust to. Still it does not require the range or arm required at SS or the arm and reflexes of 3B. Good positioning and reading the ball well off the bat can cover for other shortcomings there.
Whoaa judgments based off of such a small sample seem extremely hasty.
Comment by DavidCEisen — September 14, 2009 @ 4:39 pm
having watched him evolve in recent months, I don’t think it is hasty. He’s a lot more instinctive now, where as before he looked very uncomfortable and sort of stiff and mechanical. His hands are better, too.
It’s not very surprising. If I was told my best chance to play everyday was to switch positions, then I would want to get as good as possible. He has vastly improved over the course of the season. Says something about his desire to play and succeed and well the other obvious factor, make money.
At first I was thinking small sample size myself but given the circumstances and that the point he is making is quite general it is not really an issue. Basically Schumaker has improved and is not terrible. Most of the time people get caught up on sample size issues in UZR when they are trying to interpret the stat on too narrow of a confidence interval.
Comment by walkoffblast — September 14, 2009 @ 11:22 pm
Is it really though?
Look at the situation coming into this season. They were returning Rick Ankiel, fresh off a fairly respectable partial season in CF, Ryan Ludwick who was one of the best hitters in baseball the year before, and Skip Schumaker who is decidedly average at best at all three OF spots. They had Colby Rasmus coming through the pipe and were reaching a threshold of TooGoodForAAA (at least in John Mozeliak’s mind). Plus, they had Chris Duncan who (b/c of a literally radical neck surgery) was a wild card at the time. Does it really make sense to have a five-man OF duking out for playing time?
Add in the fact that Kennedy, albeit off a really good year swelled by a freakishly high UZR, had completely ruffled LaRussa’s feathers and had been anything but exciting offensively. He was on his way out whether he meant to or not. Doesn’t it make sense to use the players you DO have? Schumaker has a reasonable OBP and hits RHP pretty well, but his bat did not play in a corner spot and he was blocking Rasmus in CF.
So no, Skip is no world beater. But I think that trying him at second, where his average bat can at least play, is better than leaving him to rot in the 4th/5th OF spot or blocking the team’s most promising young talent, no?
I think that Schumaker being a very hard worker and Oquendo’s coaching ability are huge factors in this. It helps to have a player that is willing to put in the work and a great instructor. Like when Mick taught Rocky to box right handed.
Comment by Big Steve — September 15, 2009 @ 2:40 am
I may have been wrong on Schumaker.
And it’s not like he’s never played 2B. I’m just surprised he’s been able to stick.
The Cardinals were 21-15 (.583) at the arbitrary line you drew… and 64-45 (.587) since then.
You know, a team being successful despite a player not adding anything doesn’t make a decision a success. Adam Kennedy has twice the value of Schumaker and is playing in the AL in a pitcher’s park…
Where exactly does this move rank among reasons the Cardinals are where they are? It probably doesn’t make the Top 15.
Long term this move might be helpful… and it didn’t hurt them too much this year. But compared to the performances of Pujols, Carpenter, Wainwright, Franklin, the bullpen in general, Pineiro, Rasmus, Holliday, Ryan, the Cubs collapse, the Brewers retooling, the continued mediocrity of the Astros, the injury-decimated Reds (and the fact that they are pretty mediocre, too) and the sheer awfulness of the Pirates, the Schumaker “experiment” is barely a blip on the radar!
And that’s assuming that Schumaker doesn’t throw in a huge dud of a defensive performance in the next week that could totally blow up his UZR due to the small sample size.
Heck, actually, come to think of it, Schumaker’s early defensive growing pains cost the Cardinals about 1 win… they could fall 1 win short of Home Field Advantage… that would be something for a move that “perhaps not coincidentally” helped the Cardinals “improve” from a .583 winning percentage to a .586 winning percentage.
The Cardinals are constrained by idiotic things like “lead off hitter.” I don’t know how Skip has been able to convince his manager that he’s that guy, but it is what it is. Whatever.
Skip has been a better value than Kennedy, but that all washes out considering that the Cardinals are paying Kennedy $4 million to put up an almost identical line as Schumaker. This whole switcheroo thing is still not justified because Schumaker is the most average of average hitters and you don’t pay someone $4 million to get a .740 OPS…err, “lead off hitter” in your lineup.
My greatest hope is that the Cardinals could find a sucker that would be convinced to give up something of value for Molina and Schumaker.
The positional adjustments are kinda screwing Schumaker for his time in the OF this year. He has a higher UZR/150 at 2B than Kennedy this season, and they have approximately even wOBA’s and OPS+’s. So looking at real value as a 2B, you would have to say that they’re about even, maybe with an edge to Skip.
As for getting rid of Molina and Schumaker, what purpose does that serve? There could be an approximate replacement at 2B with Hoffpauir that could do the job for less, but there is no real replacement at C for Molina that represents an upgrade in any way. It isn’t like they are big hits against the payroll, and league average hitters at 2B and C don’t just grow on trees.
3.1 is toward the bottom of second basemen in the Fan Scouting Report. Skip’s value in the FSR is also concentrated in areas not well utilized at second; he rates best at arm strength, then at throwing accuracy and sprint speed, and poorly at first step/instincts, acceleration/first few steps, and footwork/release. His hands/catching are also rated poorly among second basemen. So the fans are still seeing him as a poor second baseman and still seeing his skills as better suited for the outfield.
Molina’s late 20s are going to be rough. He’ll have a lot of wear on his big, fat body and his skills are going to decline across the board. And if the Cardinals are paying Schumaker over $2 million next season (in possible arbitration) that’s a loss. I don’t think giving those two up for just anyone accomplishes anything, but if by some act of God they could someone cheap for the rotation, third base or right field…go for it!