August 18: Pirates (66-53) @ Cardinals (64-55)
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.
- Rafael Furcal (SS)
- Matt Carpenter (RF)
- Matt Holliday (LF)
- Allen Craig (1B)
- David Freese (3B)
- Yadier Molina (C)
- Shane Robinson (CF)
- Ryan Jackson (2B)
- Lance Lynn (RHP)
- Starling Marte (LF)
- Jordy Mercer (2B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Garrett Jones (1B)
- Travis Snider (RF)
- Pedro Alvarez (3B)
- Rod Barajas (C)
- Clint Barmes (SS)
- Erik Bedard (LHP)
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