Game six rolls around and the Cardinals find themselves in yet another do-or-die situation. The team must win to extend their 2011 season. Extending the season is required at this point to keep a lifelong Cardinal in the home team uniform for one more game.
I do not sit here and pretend that Skip Schumaker is not replaceable, nor do I feel he is a future Cardinal legend of any kind. He simply has never been in that category. What he has been, however, is a player that has given the team and the fans everything he has on a daily basis. He is an outfielder who has spent the better part of the last three seasons playing second base because that is where the team needed him. He has been a near .300 hitter for his career while batting almost everywhere in the lineup.
I have been one of the biggest critics of the second base transition for Skip Schumaker. I am also a very big fan of Schumaker as a St. Louis Cardinal, but feel he is much more valuable in the outfield. He is a speedy fielder with a live arm and good instincts. He can play all three outfield positions very well and projects well as a fourth-outfielder in key spots, such as filling in for Jon Jay in the centerfield in the World Series.
Skip Schumaker’s Career Stats
|2005||115||487||443||66||127||24||3||7||34||14||3||29||54||.287||.330||.402||.732||178||MEM · PCL|
|2006||95||403||369||47||113||13||3||3||27||11||4||23||48||.306||.348||.382||.730||141||MEM · PCL|
|2007||59||264||232||34||71||16||0||7||31||2||3||27||37||.306||.382||.466||.847||108||MEM · PCL|
|162 Game Avg.||162||549||500||70||145||25||2||5||42||4||3||42||62||.290||.346||.378||.724||189|
When it comes time to decide who stays and who goes at the end of this season the name Skip Schumaker will be batted around. If his name comes up as a solution to the middle infield rebuilding process, then it is time to let Skip find his way onto another roster. If, however, there is room for Schumaker to be the fourth (or fifth) outfielder on this team, I think he deserves to remain a part of this franchise.
When game six plays out, and game seven follows if necessary, the fans will stand and applaud Albert Pujols as he takes what may be his final at bat in front of a home town crowd that realizes he is a once in a lifetime player. At some point during that game, Schumaker will possibly take his final at bat in front of that same crowd. The young man has bled Cardinal baseball since he was drafted in 2001. He has given the fans everything he has had in the outfield, infield, and even on the mound. If you are lucky enough to be in attendance for whichever game proves to be the end of the 2011 season, I ask but one favor: recognize Skip Schumaker for the player that he has been for this team and show him that St. Louis appreciates him.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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