August 18: Pirates (66-53) @ Cardinals (64-55)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

So in the few hours I’ve been at Busch Stadium today, I’ve already gotten questions asking if Skip Schumaker is hurt, if he’s been traded and if he’s in someone’s doghouse. Answer: D. None of the above.

Schumaker has certainly been a point of discussion recently, particularly after his surprising absence during Friday’s 2-1 loss. He wasn’t in a lineup that was already down one offensive bat (Yadier Molina), nor was he asked to pinch-hit in a pair of key spots. Manager Mike Matheny took questions about Schumaker’s lack of playing time after Friday’s game and again today.

Asked to explain why Daniel Descalso (a .230 hitter with a .102 average with runners in scoring position) continues to play over Schumaker (a .314 hitter with a .390 average with runners in scoring position), Matheny’s most to-the-point answer was as follows:

“We know that Danny is very capable defensively,” Matheny said. “As far as the whole season goes, you look at the offense that our group can put together and to be able to throw a hitter like Danny into the lineup anytime, even if you’re sacrificing a little offensively, you still have a well above-average defender.

“To me, it’s a point that’s getting beat up that really shouldn’t be when you look at the offense we should have.”

In other words, Matheny justifies sacrificing some offense to include a better defender because he believes that his lineup should be potent enough to handle the absence of the better bat.

I’ll leave you with two questions to ponder on the subject:

1. Should that rationale change when Molina is out of the lineup? In other words, should Friday (or Thursday or Wednesday) have been a situation where offense shouldn’t have been sacrificed?

2. Is the discrepancy between the defensive abilities of Schumaker and Descalso so significant that the Cardinals’ defense would be taking a noticeable hit by playing Schumaker at second base?

And in other realms… Molina is back in the lineup today after missing three straight games with back tightness. … Carlos Beltran is sitting after beginning the homestand 2-for-15. With Monday’s off day, this will give Beltran two of the next three days off. … The lineup additions of Shane Robinson and Ryan Jackson were to stack right-handed bats against a left-handed starter.

CARDINALS LINEUP:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Matt Carpenter (RF)
  3. Matt Holliday (LF)
  4. Allen Craig (1B)
  5. David Freese (3B)
  6. Yadier Molina (C)
  7. Shane Robinson (CF)
  8. Ryan Jackson (2B)
  9. Lance Lynn (RHP)

PIRATES LINEUP:

  1. Starling Marte (LF)
  2. Jordy Mercer (2B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Travis Snider (RF)
  6. Pedro Alvarez (3B)
  7. Rod Barajas (C)
  8. Clint Barmes (SS)
  9. Erik Bedard (LHP)

Division standings are here. Wild card standings are here.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

6 Comments

I understand that Matheny has reasons for sitting Beltran, Jay and Descalso/Schumaker today, but I just don’t like playing three backups when you’ve lost two games in a row at home and you’re playing one of the teams you are trying to catch.

This is well said – this series s critical and already a good pitching effort has been squandered for the second night in a row due to low offense. Now or never to make these adjustments.

I have always liked MM, he like TLR make some decisions that perplex me. I like DD and his hustle, but the Schu-man is also a hustler. Today the player with the highest batting ave. is sitting for a rookie. I hope it turns out well. Let’s Go Cardinals

Sorry MM is showing his lack of managerial experience. Defense is important but we lost 2-1 yesterday and Skip could have made a difference.

There must be something we don’t know about. Skip is guy that seems to always come out of spring with where are we going to play him? However, he time after time always makes the roster and is a big plus. I think not starting him with Westbrook on the mound and we expect a lot GB is the right call. But leaving DD in with runners is position is something I just don’t buy into. It’s just a no brainer as I see it. You just don’t give up that much on defense something is afoot with Skip!!!!

I like MM, but I think he’s wrong on the issue of not playing Schumaker. The problem with his answer — “when you look at the offense we should have” — is that “should” is not the same as “do”. Sure, the Cards’ overall offensive numbers look great, but they are losing too many close games, and another good bat would help. And Skip would add some speed too, which the Cardinals lack.

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