The Elves being referred to here? The ones working behind the scenes to get the job done? Oh, yeah, that was me.
Okay, now I don't expect a bunch of thanks or anything from everybody, but I want you all to know. I was instrumental in the Cardinals and Skip Schumaker getting a deal worked out
, thereby avoiding arbitration. Yes, that's right. No applause, please.
See, what happened is that J-Mo (that's my nickname for John Mozeliak; it's a thing we have), was just blowing up my Blackberry late last week. Kept calling and calling; thing was, I was just too busy to listen to him bitch about his general manager problems, so I kind of gave him the old brush off. "I'll call him later," I said to the Brazilian supermodel I was in bed with. So finally he sends me a text.
"OMG A Train!!! Dude, where the hell u at?? Need help on da Shoe deal!!!"
So I call him back up, and we all get together and hammer this thing out. The problem was salary, of course. No one could agree on a salary. So I said, "Well, why don't you just pay Skip a dollar for every time I yell at my TV for him to stop sliding into first base?" We did some quick calculations, and it worked out to about $5 million over two years. Everyone thought it was an awesome idea, we got that contract signed, and we all went out and got tore up from the floor up.
Two years, $4.7 million for Schumaker, with incentives that could bring the value up to a full $5 million. I think that sounds just about right, actually, for a player of Skip's ilk. If his 2009 performance at second base
is legitimately what we can expect from him, he's worth a fair bit more, of course, but for a player with his service time going into only the second year of one of the crazier experiments I can recall seeing in baseball, I think five mil for two seasons is all kinds of right.
It's really odd, but somehow the first thought I had when I heard of this deal was, "Why in the hell did they need the second year? After all, they've got Dan Descalso in the pipeline, and Skip's still in arbitration. One year would have been plenty."
Since then, though, I've thought over it a bit more, and I've come to the conclusion my disdain for the second year component of this is due to the fact I still somehow don't see Skip Schumaker as an everyday player. And I don't know why. In my mind, he's still the guy he was in late 2005, looking like the best he would ever do would be sort of a lefty-swinging version of So Taguchi. Kind of a fourth-and-a-half outfielder. Sure, a guy who's plenty useful and you need to have around, but not a guy you're ever going to really worry about holding on to.
But here's the thing: Schumaker isn't that guy anymore. If he were still in the outfield, maybe, but even out there his hitting has progressed to the point he could be a regular on plenty of teams in the major leagues. But what's more important, he isn't in the outfield anymore. Sure, it seemed wacky at the time, but facts is facts, and facts is Skip Schumaker was a second baseman by the end of the 2009 season. He wasn't an outfielder playing at second, he was a second baseman. Maybe he still wasn't Johnny Evers out there, but he was a real live second baseman all the same.
So why does he still feel like a year-to-year player to me? Why does he still seem like strictly a stopgap until something better comes along? He looks as if he's likely settled in fairly comfortably in the 100-105 OPS+ range, which is well above average for a second baseman. His fielding isn't an abomination, by any means; this isn't a Ryan Braun at third situation. To top it all off, he's a managerial favourite, meaning even if I were rooting for him to leave town, such efforts would almost surely be in vain.
Honestly, I'm not sure why Skip Schumaker remains, by me at least, hugely underrated. Maybe it's because I hate the name Skip. (We were a Jif family growing up; Skippy can suck it. Hard.) Maybe it's because there's absolutely nothing to hang your hat on with Schumaker; he does virtually everything in a fairly well sort of way. He looks fast, but he isn't, but he won't hurt you on the bases. That sort of thing.
Or maybe it's because while John Mozeliak has never sent me a text message referring to me as A-Train (Though if you're reading this, Mr. Mo, I certainly wouldn't be averse to such a relationship. Hit me up, dawg.), and I certainly didn't have anything to do with Skip Schumaker's new contract getting done, I'm not really exaggerating about how many times in the next two years I'm likely to scream at my television, "Damn it, Skip! What the hell is wrong with you? Sliding is slower than running! Slower! Stop sliding into first!!!"