Cards at Second: Daniel Descalso to the Rescue?

Yestrday, Skip Schumaker suffered a torn right oblique muscle that will keep him out of action for the foreseeable future. An oblique injury caused Evan Longoria to miss a month last season, so we know these injuries are nothing to take lightly. The news won’t affect a large swath of the fantasy population as Shumaker and his 2010-2011 OPS of .676 are usually found in the free agent scrap heap. However, the Cardinals can’t go without a second baseman, so we’re presented with our latest, and perhaps least interesting, spring training position battle.

There are two candidates for the job; Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene. Let’s take a look at each.

Daniel Descalso:

The 25-year-old spent last season as a utility infielder, playing most of his 148 games, including 61 starts, at third base. He didn’t hit particularly well overall, ending the season with a .269 wOBA. Looking at his splits, he hit much, much better against right handed pitching, posting a .313 wOBA and a .724 OPS against them. For a comparison, his wOBA and OPS against southpaws were .228 and .313. He was just a rookie, and 66 plate appearances isn’t a big sample, so it’s possible his numbers against left handed pitching could improve. He’s shown 10 home run power at the Triple-A level, but hit only one in 375 plate appearances last season. The 17.3% strikeout rate was a bit high but he made up for it with a decent walk rate of 8.8%. By cutting down the strikeouts, which he should be able to do considering his minor league rates never topped 13.1%, he could be a bench asset in deep mixed and NL-only leagues.

Tyler Greene:

The older of the two, Greene has been unimpressive in parts of three seasons with the Cardinals. He’s been a double digit home run and stolen base threat in the minors, putting up a 14/19 season in 66 games last year, but with a career MLB line of .218/.307/.313 has yet to put that talent to use. He’s the primary backup at shortstop and will likely see action since Rafael Furcal couldn’t stay healthy in a hospital. His ZiPS projections of .233/.309/.364 with 11 home runs and 22 steals are actually pretty favorable given his track record. He’ll best Descalso in the power and speed departments but will lose out in batting average and on base percentage.

With Shumaker on the shelf it is possible that these two are platooned, so keep an eye out for that. Assuming it’s a one on one competiton, Descalso would seem to have the edge based on his superior major league numbers. Neither is worth owning in a standard mixed league, and owners should be sure to draft another second basemen before considering either in NL-only or deeper leagues.

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

8 Responses to “Cards at Second: Daniel Descalso to the Rescue?”

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  1. David says:

    Do we know Mike Matheny’s feelings on the Allen Craig as 2nd baseman experiment from last year? Given that he’s finally starting to resume baseball activities, does he work his way in to this mix at all?

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  2. Tim says:

    Matheny had come out and said Greene would be the primary 2b before spring training even started, making Skip’s injury a moot point when it comes to 2b. Now if you’re worried about losing him as one of your OF’s, then you have bigger problems.

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  3. robertobeers says:

    No comment on Descalso leading the league in walks in Spring Training?

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  4. Brian Cartwright says:

    Including minor league stats in the evaluation, it looks like Green has an advantage. According to THT Forecasts, Greene had a .350 MLE wOBA last year, with 1.5-2.0 WAR in 2 o the lst 3 seasons, although with below average defense. Descalso’s MLE wOBA has been between .304 and .319 the past three years, with a similar below average glove.

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  5. Jerry Israel says:

    I don’t get why more pundits are not talking about Allen Craig at 2nd base….. Lead the the way MR Matheny….

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    • OzzieGuillen says:

      What does Allen Craig have to do to get a starting gig? Sure, he has to get healthy first, but his postseason performance and his high average with power and some speed last year all scream, “Get me in the lineup!”

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      • NPM says:

        Putting Craig at 2B and Pujols at 3B last year were Tony LaRussa specials. Not really viable for Craig to play 2B for long term and not worth the injury risk in the short term. Being able to play both Corner OF spots and 1B should give him a fair number of ABs as Berkman, Beltran and possibly Holliday will need some days off.

        For him to get a starting gig, unfortunately, would mean that Berkman would need to leave or Beltran would have to commit to playing CF every day, which he doesn’t want to do. Heck, I’d give Craig a shot at CF once in awhile — he can’t be too much worse than Schumaker. Given Holliday’s contract, Craig’s long term home is RF, unless Adams doesn’t pan out at 1B.

        No question his bat should be in the lineup every day, but better to have too many bats than not enough.

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  6. Bob says:

    I like the Craig-in-CF idea, at least when extreme groundballers Westbrook and Garcia take the bump for StL.

    As for the keystone kompetition, Greene is the more impressive athlete, and would no doubt be the better decathlete or lumberjack. Descalso, however, is the better ballplayer right now—and more than three years Greene’s junior.

    It’s all about recognizing pitches, and hittin’ ’em hard…and Descalso has consistently shown MUCH more of that ability, in both the majors AND minors, than Tyler Greene.

    (I wouldn’t be averse to a straight-up platoon at 2nd, if Greene could hit southpaws, which he can’t. He can’t hit anyone who’s good enough to pitch in the majors.)

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