Proper Use of Your Skip Schumaker

April 28, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker (55) turns a double play over Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (23) at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

From: Scrappy Infielders, Ltd. (NO REPLY)
Subject: Thanks for registering your SKIP SCHUMAKER
Date: May 1, 2012
To: Mike Matheny

Mike,

We're glad you're enjoying your SKIP SCHUMAKER, and we'd like to thank you for registering him. By registering you'll be the first to get news about updates for your SKIP SCHUMAKER, as well as exclusive offers for positional enhancement packs.

We've noticed some strange usage patterns on your account, and you'll be getting a separate e-mail from our fraud prevention department to go over some unexplained charges. (We've received multiple late-night requests for your SKIP SCHUMAKER to "just drop a bunt down, for old times' sake," originating from Contra Costa County.) In the meantime we'd like to remind you of the proper usage cases for your SKIP SCHUMAKER.

You'll get the most out of your SKIP SCHUMAKER in the following scenarios:

  • As pivot for a million double switches. Need to swap out an outfielder or a second baseman? Your SKIP SCHUMAKER has been designed for unassuming adequacy as a pinch hitter and has been licensed in most states for operation, in two to four inning intervals, in the outfield or at second base.
  • As a platoonable spare part. Your SKIP SCHUMAKER is mediocre in easily predictable ways. He is rated under our rigorous career-based testing algorithms at .767 against right-handed pitching and .523 against left-handed pitching. He is calibrated to provide above-replacement-level performance against right-handers as a second baseman or center fielder in the absence of other options.
  • As a de facto replacement level. Your SKIP SCHUMAKER was built to perform within a very tight range of outcomes, depending on whether your utility infielder operator set the EMPTY270 or EMPTY290 DIP switches prior to installation. In tandem with any of our YOUNG PSEUDO-PROSPECT models, your SKIP SCHUMAKER, used sparingly, will aid in the establishment and maintenance of a baseline level of performance.
  • We've noticed you've been using your SKIP SCHUMAKER a lot lately. Please remember that power-cycling is dangerous for your SKIP SCHUMAKER's lithium-ion batteries, and that your SKIP SCHUMAKER is not engineered to operate at a satisfactory baseline of performance over 500 at-bats. Maybe you'd be interested in our MARTIN PRADO or DUSTIN PEDROIA models.

Why it seems like Viva El Birdos hates Skip Schumaker

Viva El Birdos's distaste for Skip Schumaker has rapidly approached meta-meme territory over the last month, and I'd like to clarify my position, such as it is, since I don't think there's any actual rancor involved.

1. I don't like watching Skip Schumaker play baseball. This is a purely subjective, aesthetic experience, but it's mine, and inasmuch as baseball is something you should only watch if you like watching it this kind of thing is important.

The kind of baseball Skip Schumaker plays bores me. He hits a ground ball and a half for every fly ball, and he's not slicing them at weird angles and dashing out of the box like Ichiro or anything—he just hits the ball on the ground because he is the kind of player for whom hitting ground balls is a moral imperative. He's not very fast, so most of those ground balls are unexciting; he's either clearly out because the ball hits an infielder or clearly safe because it doesn't.

The positions he plays are exciting ones, but aside from his fine throwing arm he doesn't do much to impress there, either. There are a lot of people who like this sort of thing; I'm not one of them. I can't, personally, ascribe any noble ideals to self-effacement through repeated grounding out to the first baseman.

None of this has anything to do with his ability to play baseball, and although it probably colors my perception of him as a baseball player I think I can keep most of it out of mind for the remainder of this post.

2. Skip Schumaker's ability to play baseball makes him a major league-caliber baseball player. He's a little better than a replacement player, and he can be a little better than a replacement player several places.

3. But he plays too much in St. Louis. This is not the kind of player who should get 929 at-bats over two years with an OPS at .674. At this point he is the kind of player whose every 400-at-bat season is archaeological evidence of some mid-season roster disaster.

That's not his fault, and it's not specific to him, either; the Cardinals have overtaxed one of these guys every year since Adam Kennedy proved not to be the answer at second base. But it's made him, I think, appear more valuable and more competent than he really is, and the Cardinals can't allow themselves to fall into a situation where this kind of player's readiness to play at an established level and the team's own inertia threaten to crowd out potentially substantial options.

4. He's too expensive now. Of course this is the real problem. Skip Schumaker isn't a player who should factor into payroll considerations, even at the very end of the offseason. He's a major league baseball player, and a great clubhouse presence, and a guy who's made himself useful in ways that few players attempt, but that shouldn't command a multi-year contract.

So the Cardinals appear to be overvaluing him, and that's both a problem in itself and a signal that they're not concerned about the other problems. And that, plus

4a. The Cardinals are winning a lot and we're bored,

plus

4b. Tyler Greene is excruciatingly frustrating to watch right now but promises to maybe be more fun to watch eventually, especially to Viva El Birdos's primary demographic of fundamentals-agnostics, #hpgf members, and people who like animated gifs,

is why it seems like Viva El Birdos hates Skip Schumaker. I think.

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