For Some Reason the St. Louis Cardinals Are Signing Skip Schumaker to a Two-Year Contract

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 28: Skip Schumaker #55 of the St. Louis Cardinals breaks his bat on a ground out in the fourth inning during Game Seven of the MLB World Series against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Earlier today Brian Stull tweeted that the St. Louis Cardinals were working on an agreement to bring back Skip Schumaker. This bad news was made worse later in the day when crack St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribe Derrick Goold reported on his must-read Birdland blog that not only were the Cardinals and Schumaker close to reaching an agreement but that the agreement was of two years in length. There is no reason for the Cardinals to repeat the mistake of the last two-year contract to which they foolishly signed Schumaker.

Schumaker is an aging player who was never very skilled to being with. This means that what were mediocre-at-best talents years ago are declining. Schumaker's power numbers have shrunk such that one needs rose-colored glasses and a microscope to see them. Schumaker's walk rate has tapered off to levels that make his .260-to-.285 batting average unacceptably hollow. Making matters still worse, Schumaker's defensive skills have gotten so bad that one needs to watch him in the field with a blindfold to be able to defend him. Lastly and most gratingly, he slides into first base headfirst.

It is important that we all understand that calling Schumaker "versatile" is misleading. Because Schumaker can be penciled in at second base, right field, left field, or center field does not mean that he has ever been able to play defense at any of these positions exceptionally well. In fact, he has been consistently horrendous when playing both center field and second base. As he enters his age 32 season, his cement-footed defensive range will only be worse moving forward.

Position

Innings

UZR/150

TotalZone

LF

605.2

-3.1

6

RF

545.1

0.7

2

CF

692.0

-10.2

-7

2B

2742.2

-12.1

-12

Quite clearly Schumaker should never be allowed to play center field or second base--especially with the dip his offensive production has taken as of late. He used to be about average in right and left fields. The problem is that the bulk of his innings at the positions came when he was younger, back before sliding headfirst into first base and grounding out to second base had taken a toll on his body. There is no reason to think him even average at the corner outfielder positions moving forward. What's more, he shouldn't be taking plate appearances away from the offensively and defensively superior Allen Craig and Matt Holliday. If the Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran, I would posit that Schumaker should never see an inning at a corner outfield position.

Schumaker should not be utilized in the field at all. To give him a job as a utility player would be oxymoronic. Schumaker is the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife with a dull knife blade that doesn't cut, a worn file that doesn't file, a toothpick that can't pick, tweezers that can't tweeze, and scissors that can cut only if you have them at the right angle.

Schumaker is the very definition of a hollow-average offensive player. One of the more troubling developments in Schumaker's plate approach in the last two seasons is his declining inability to take a walk. In 2009, Schumaker posted a career-high walk rate of 8.9% which understandably helped him to a career-high OBP of .364. It has been downhill ever since. It fell to 8.1% in 2010 and then to a mere 6.8% in 2011.

Perhaps linked to Schumaker's rapidly vanishing walk skills is his shrinking power at the bat. The decrease is Schumaker's slugging percentage (SLG) and Isolated Power (ISO) has been even more pronounced that his walk rate.

Season

ISO

SLG

2007

.124

.458

2008

.104

.406

2009

.090

.393

2010

.074

.338

2011

.068

.351

Schumaker has devolved into a player whose value depends entirely upon him posting a BABIP of .320 or higher and even then his value de minimus. In 2010, Schumaker saw his batted ball luck nose dive to .294 (about league average) and his entire value was lost. In fact, Schumaker posted a negative WAR in 2010. In 2011, Schumaker was better than in 2010 largely thanks to a .321 BABIP. That's the player Schumaker is today, one who requires a .321 BABIP to manage a .283 BA and .333 OBP--a player who requires good luck to be below average.

Schumaker was worth 0.4 WAR over the duration of the two-year contract he just completed. Though paid $4.75 million on the contract, Schumaker was worth only $1.8 million. It makes one wonder why general manager John Mozeliak is so eager to make the same mistake twice by giving Schumaker another two-year deal.

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