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
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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,
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.