To the former, there's plenty of evidence. We as fans got to see that expressed clearly last season when he made such a push to help friends of his, organizing Stars 4 Baby Reesa. We saw him uncomplainingly learn second base after a career of being an outfielder a few seasons back. His reputation for integrity and team-first attitude has never been questioned.
What has been questioned, however, is how valuable he is to a baseball team, which leads to the second point. There's no doubt that Schumaker's value to the team as a player has declined over the last few years. He's still got a value to them, it's true, but it's more of the clubhouse leader value rather than a directly impacting games value.
He can still hit around .300, most likely, but you have to keep him away from lefthanders for that to happen. He's a defensive liability at second base and doesn't have the power you'd associate with outfielders. He has little power and he's not a noted on-base guy. He didn't have just a ton of success pinch-hitting either. Again, I'm not saying that he didn't bring anything to the table, but what he did bring wasn't exactly the firstfruits of baseball, if you know what I mean.
There's been some talk about what the Cardinals will be receiving as well, AA shortstop Jake Lemmerman. Lemmerman hasn't exactly impressed as he moved up the ladder in the Dodger organization--Jon Doblesaid on Twitter that "he's barely equal to Pete Kozma. The real Kozma, not the September 2012 Kozma." However, no matter what John Mozeliak said publicly about optimizing the return for Schumaker, this was never about what the team could get back.
After all, we know the flaws in Schumaker's game--they are mentioned above. There's no doubt that other teams realize what he is as well. Plus, one of his strengths to the Cardinals, the fact that he's such a clubhouse leader, gets negated in a trade. He can still be a person of respect in the Dodger clubhouse, but he doesn't have the roots there to really make a difference. Skip had been in the Cardinal organization since 2001. He knew how things worked in St. Louis and he knew how to impart that to others. In time, he became one of the leaders on the team. He'll have to start over out in LA.
Basically, what Skip had going for him was a cheap contract. The Cards could have sent him to Minnesota, where he might have gotten more playing time especially after they traded off two outfielders, but he wasn't likely to win anything there. No, it was pretty much always going to be the Dodgers because the team respected Skip and wanted to make him as happy as possible about the deal. He goes home and he gets reunited with Mark McGwire. If he couldn't play in SL, LA was the next best thing.
Who knows, though? We thought that the Cardinals were just giving Jim Edmonds away about this time five years ago. I mean, getting a A ball prospect back for a guy that was building a Hall of Fame case? Yet David Freese has done pretty well for himself since that deal. (I'd expect Freese had a better offensive profile, but apparently either all the baseball sites are overloaded this morning or there is something up with my browser, because I'm having a tough time having such things load up.)
However, even though Skip wasn't necessarily the best at second, this deal doesn't do anything but harm the middle infield situation, which wasn't good to begin with. Daniel Descalso is basically it at second, because we really don't want to see much of Kozma if we can help it. Besides, Kozma right now is the backup to Rafael Furcal, a backup that might be needed. You also have Ryan Jackson, but I'd guess he'll be in Memphis most of the season unless opinions on him change.
Taking Skip out of the equation means either you are really sold (and are banking a lot) on Matt Carpenter being able to make that transition or there's a more pressing need to make a trade or free agent signing. Would Mo make a deal like this without having something else ready to go? Actually, I'd bet he would. There seemed to have been a shift against Schumaker here and it's likely that, even with the middle infield weakness, he wouldn't have gotten much playing time. Better to respect him and deal him than let him sit, even if you don't have the replacement quite ready.
So to Skip Schumaker, we say thanks for all you did as a Cardinal, both on the field and off. We thank you for your professionalism and your willingness to take one for the team. We wish you all possible success in Los Angeles and hope you lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS next year. Best of luck in the future as we tip our hats to your departure.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball