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Joe Strauss at it Again…

No surprise here.

Joe Strauss – Post Dispatch reporter and long-time critic of the Skip-at-2B experiment – has followed his article all but denouncing Schumaker’s attempt to convert from the outfield to the infield with a glowing assessment of Joe Thurston’s play at second base.

Really? This is just getting embarrassingly obvious, now.

Thurston turned in a 3 for 4 performance on Thursday (Thurston/Thursday…?) in a rare opportunity to start at 2B ahead of Skip Schumaker. TLR says the break for Schu (who hit DH and went 0 for 3) was more mental than it was a physical necessity. The grind of putting up with the pressures of making a conversion in the public eye and at this level appear to be weighing him down a bit. A break is warranted.

Perhaps Struass should take the advice.

Joe has made no secret of his disbelief in the Skip-at-2B (Skip@2B…?) experiment. When the team decided to give it a shot – perhaps validating some fans’ opinions that it was worth a try – Joe could not have been happy. His pride was hurt, and he was embarrassed. After all…as a sports-writer for the PD, isn’t he supposed to know more than all of us combined?

Again…to repeat myself…I like Strauss. I just call ‘foul’ on this one issue.

Thurston was 3 for 4 Thursday…true (one of which was a drag bunt)…and he was 4 for 22 leading up to that performance. His Spring Training batting average sits at .269 with an OBP of .321. Keep in mind…as a late-in substitute, most of his numbers prior to Thursday came against a sampling of relief, second-tier, and/or minor league pitchers. Skip, however, posted his numbers (.303 BA, .361 OBP – including his 0 for 3 day) while starting in most games against starting pitchers and MLB ready hurlers.

Now…to the best of my knowledge, no one (including Strauss) is claiming Thurston is a better hitter than Skip. The argument, instead, is that Thurston is a better second baseman…which is true…but jumping on Thurston’s 3 for 4 performance as an argument for Schu in the OF rather than 2B is a little disingenuous.

The 2009 St. Louis Cardinals are a better offensive lineup with Skip at second…let’s not forget that. Thurston may do a great job in the field for us this year – assuming he makes the team – but let’s not pretend he’s going to offensively upgrade this team.

If Skip can’t make it at second base…this lineup is clearly worse-off. Thurston at second base would be an example of the Cardinals settling for the second best option. No doubt about it. Skip at second is clearly the desired choice. It may not happen, but let’s not turn a blind eye to what Strauss is doing in the media because Skip is struggling.

Joe Strauss has stated he doesn’t want Skip to fail at second. He says claims about his desire to see Skip falter are untrue. I believe that. Joe does NOT want Skip to fail in his conversion attempt. Joe is a good guy and is better than that.

But Joe also doesn’t want to be wrong. He really likes to be right. That causes a problem.

Skip sticks at second, and Joe was wrong in his assessment and aggressive dismissal of the notion. Skip fails to stick, and Joe is vindicated.

When it comes down to it, Joe is a good guy…but he’s only human. Right now, his wounded pride is winning.

Go Cards…

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