Look...no one thought this was going to be easy.
When the idea of Skip Schumaker at second base was flung about by fans last season, all the media types jumped down their throats - in a manner of speaking. Everyone who was anyone in the press told all comers there was virtually no way the Cardinals would try Skip Schumaker out at second base.
Don't they have enough options there without converting an outfielder? Hasn't it been forever and a day since Skip played the infield? And never in professional ball? "No, no," they said..."Skip at second will never happen."
And then it did.
When the big league club announced they would try Schu at middle infield, even Skip was surprised (he, of course, had just laughed off the notion himself a matter of days before). And suddenly...all the press darlings were on his side, rooting for the would-be second baseman.
One very visible Cardinals reporter has consistently listed Skip on his Opening Day roster projections as a second baseman. Others have noted his work ethic and track record of unexpected success. But there is one...a lone reporter...who has clearly had a hard time swallowing the whole Skip-at-2B experiment.
Strauss is an excellent reporter who writes wonderful stories for the Post Dispatch. I love his wit, his thorough reports, and his blunt-yet-flamboyant character with the fans. But on this...I think he's struggling a bit.
Joe was one of the most aggressive press types in his attack of the Skip-at-2nd idea from fans. He addressed it at nearly every turn, time and time again choosing to answer questions in his pseudo-weekly chats with fans regarding Skip in the infield. And then the Cardinals went and tried it out...and Joe was embarrassed.
Making his way as a sure-footed, confident reporter willing to offer opinion-based commentary on the Cardinals, Joe was left hanging in the wind, encouraged to swallow his pride and admit Skip-at-2B was a possibility. A tough one...sure...but a very real one.
He didn't like it.
Now, I'm not saying Joe's out for vindication or revenge...but I am saying it stirs the cynic within me that he is the one so aggressively seeking out doubts about Skip's performance at second. He tried to goad TLR into a negative comment, he led Wellemeyer down the Skip-bashing road, and he took it upon himself to go on Bernie Miklasz's radio show and all-but proclaim the Skip-at-2B experiment an utter failure and near the end.
I like Joe...but this smells of pride.
Skip is going to have a lot of difficulty making this switch...and...honestly...the chances of it succeeding are probably closer to 50%, now. But let's cut the kid a break. Skip's problem isn't ability, work eithic, or desire...it's nerves. When he thinks, he screws up. He has no muscle memory, no infield instincts to draw upon. He needs time to build that...and if he's given the time, he will.
The question is...will he be given that time?
He needs reps...lots and lots of reps. Look...we know what Ryan can do at second - let him hit DH to get his ABs in and leave it at that. He'll be ready by Opening Day. Same with Barden - he's just good, period. Thurston? Big deal. Over-hyped coming into camp with what we already have in place. I'm not impressed.
Let Skip play it out for a bit longer and really get a shot to shut his brain down and develop some instincts...and maybe claim the second base job. I mean...hell...he can't be much worse than Uggla, can he?
And, yes, I understand the whole "ground ball pitching philosophy" risk...but come on. Second base is one position on what will be a strong infield, even with Mather at 3rd for a month. The double-play problem? That's real...but it can be overcome. He just needs time and work.
But it's worth it.
Here's the reality...we have too many outfielders. Dunc is back and healthy and he will demand a spot with his performance this year. If we stick Skip in at leadoff, he takes away a power outfield bat and creates a hole in the lineup at second base. I don't care who takes Skip's spot in the infield, it WILL be an offensive downgrade.
Skip at second is worth a shot. It makes the entire lineup better. It eliminates a hole in the order and upgrades an outfield bat (previously his) from a contact hitter to a doubles and power hitter.
Skip at second should continue...at least for a while.
And Strauss and the other doubters armed with a public forum to wield as they and their wounded pride see fit?
Just back off.