I don’t have a lot of faith in the Schumaker to 2B conversion. We can compare WARs between Kennedy and Schumaker and show that, even assuming atrocious defense, the drop off should be insignificant or non-existent. Part of the problem is how we’re framing this debate though. We’re going into the season assuming that Kennedy-level performance (~1 WAR) is what we should expect from second. That’s a bogus assumption when their are upgrades available on the free agent market and via trade. Even assuming Schumaker makes a successful conversion and becomes a ~1.5 WAR player at second with below average defense, why are we accepting that as a positive thing?
The Cardinals have, frankly, been abysmal at producing middle infielders. 2B has been a turnstyle of players for several years now. They’ve brought in adequate replacements from veteran castoffs to pick up the slack but the team is continually thin at the position. The collection of “competitors” this year should inspire little hope that the long term answer is about to be found. Joe Thurston, Brendan Ryan and Skip are all marginal possibilities at 2B but they don’t represent anything approaching a real solution or even a league average player. They also reek of reactionary moves rather than proactive decisions.
Current positional adjustments would lend credence to the notion that the difference between 3rd bsaeman and 2nd basemen is minimal at best. Coincidentally, the Cardinals have sn abundance of 3rd basemen in the system. If the Cardinals are serious about making a 2nd basemen for the long term, they should be looking to Allen Craig and not Skip Schumaker. Craig is a touch below average at 3rd base, so it’s reasonable to expect him to be a -5 defender at the keystone.
Player – wOBA CHONE – Defense in runs
Craig – .325 – (-5)
Schumaker – .328 – (-10)
Thurston – .322 – (0)
Ryan – .308 – (0)
Looks to me like Craig is the equivalent of those other players but here’s the kicker — he’s still got some semblance of upside. Schumaker and Thurston aren’t going to become anything more than what they already are. Ryan’s bat is probably done developing but you could argue that he’s a better than neutral defender. Craig is about to get squeezed out of the organization between David Freese and Brett Wallace. Why aren’t the Cardinals proactively trying to prevent this? There’s been rumblings of trying him in the outfield but really only moves the congestion rather than relieving it.
Losing Kennedy isn’t a big deal. Thurston and Schumaker make for adequate short term answers. Holding par shouldn’t be the standard we want the Cardinals to live up to though. Get creative and move Craig to 2B. Let Freese play in the bigs and Wallace learn his defense in AAA. It’s an equal or better solution than anything we’ve seen the Cardinals present to date and it’s the only one that realistically represents an internal upgrade in the long term.