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.
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.
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.