2014 Reds

Reds sign Skip Schumaker to 2-year deal

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Reds have come to terms with Skip Schumaker on a two-year deal, pending physical etc.

Schumaker will be 34 at the start of 2014. He played for the Dodgers last season (.263/.332/.332) and eight seasons for the Cardinals before that. So he’s another former Cardinal signed by Walt Jocketty – Ludwick, Edmonds, Cairo, Rolen, and Renteria.

Here are my first thoughts:

Positives

1. He’s versatile, playing 2B and all three OF positions for the Dodgers and Cardinals.

2. As a lefty hitter, he’s got a better split against right-handed pitchers. He slashed .295/.357/.385 against RHP in 2012 with the Cardinals.

3. Bob Nightengale from USA Today calls the move “terrific” and Schumaker a “class act” — so maybe it helps fix the clubhouse?

Negatives

1. He’s got no power and no speed.

2. He’s not particularly good at any of his defensive positions.

3. He’s signed for two seasons at an age when middle infielders decline rapidly.

4. His split against RHP last season isn’t that great (.265/.338/.333) and his 2012 split is aided by an unusually high BABIP of .351 (career .333).

5. Sabermetrics still trying to incorporate “classiness” into WAR

What This Means

Schumaker has never played major league shortstop. It’s difficult to envision the plan for him to be strictly a utility infielder, at least assuming Jack Hannahan is the other. Hannahan is signed for 2014 and he doesn’t really play SS either.

I’ve got three ideas, all varying degrees of terrifying: (1) Schumaker will be the Reds every-day second baseman once Brandon Phillips is traded, or (2) the Reds are counting on Billy Hamilton being on the roster and Schumaker will split time with Hamilton at second base and Hamilton will be the backup shortstop, or (3) the Reds are going to eat the last year of Hannahan’s contract (about $1 million) and sign another utility IF who can play 3B and SS.

Or maybe some horrifying combination of those things. The last of those three options could make this OK depending on who the additional signing would be. I guess Schumaker could be signed to be the LH backup outfielder instead of Xavier Paul (.253/.349/.426 vs RHP in 2013).

If the universe of possible free agents is confined largely to former Cardinals, I’d have probably preferred Mark DeRosa, who played 2B and 3B for the Blue Jays last year and had a higher OPS than Schumaker. DeRosa just announced he was retiring, so we might have been able to sign him for only one year. And, did I mention he has the most important qualification, apparently, of being a former Cardinal?

I’d like this signing a lot more if Schumaker played SS and could therefore fulfill the role as a true UT player. But given the current and likely configuration of the roster, this move looks more like one that will yield Schumaker quite a bit of playing time.

96 thoughts on “Reds sign Skip Schumaker to 2-year deal

  1. I agree that Schumaker makes the bench very awkward. It seems pretty unlikely that both him and Hannahan sit on the bench next year…

    He still seems more useful than Cairo, Valdez, and Izturis.

    The Reds must have been really uncomfortable with Henry Rodriguez’s defense.

  2. My first reaction was one of disgust. Another former Cardinal and so on. However, I think this may prove to be solid move. I’m guessing this is an effort to get a different left handed hitting outfielder. Schumaker is capable in the corners and can play CF in a pinch. He has a plus arm as well (not outstanding, but above average). I’m guessing that Paul is the one who will go to make room. That does not upset me in the least.

  3. Not overly impressed. If he’s taking Hannahan’s place, ok. But he’s not really a 3B or 1B. We will lose some power if he takes Paul’s place. Hope he’s not our new 2B. So far the off season moves have been confusing, hoping there is a bigger picture at work that i’m not seeing.

  4. Since the Dodgers didn’t pick up Mark Ellis’s option they are either going to buy Robby Cano or trade for BP. (There are NO other choices, right?).

    Skippy seems redundant to me. I can’t see how he helps the Reds. Doesn’t hurt the Reds, just doesn’t do anything to move past Dusty-itis.

    Sounds to me like we got a guy who was OK with being gotten.

  5. I’m not sure what to think of this one. Like you mentioned, there are a variety of way in which he might be used this year. We’ve got to be worried if our only lineup changes from 2013 to 2014 are replacing Choo with Hamilton, and Phillips with Schumaker. Both are almost certainly offensive downgrades (to what extent is up for debate). If Schumaker is in the regular lineup, it needs to be in an effort to divert money to upgrade another position, such as left field.

    I honestly think we’ve seen the last of Billy Hamilton the infielder. I think the switch to CF was announced after the 2012 season. It appears he played just part of one game at SS in Louisville last season (he had one chance and recorded an assist). He can be the literal *emergency* shortstop, for extra-inning or injury scenarios, but he can’t be the guy who gives an infielder an off-day once or twice a month. Defense was way too much of a liability in many minor league seasons, plus a year’s worth of rust to boot.

  6. What about Frazier at SS? He played SS in the minors. Hannahan could back up 3rd and Frazier backs up SS.

    • @Gregg: I thought this too, however I looked it up and didn’t find great evidence of him playing SS much or lately. He played three innings of SS in 2011 with the Reds, and prior to that his last playing time at SS was in 2008 (58 games at high-A Sarasota). So its been over five years since he played it regularly. I think I’d take Frazier over Hamilton at SS, but I don’t love either option. Hopefully the Reds get a productive 150+ games from Cozart in 2014 and the backup shortstop is a non-factor.

    • @hotto4votto: Dusty Baker repeatedly went on record as preferring to have a “true shortstop” on the bench. I don’t know if that is a common or uncommon, good or a bad thing. Could be that Price and/or Jocketty don’t feel the same way.

  7. I’m going to step out on a limb and say in general I like this signing. Great guy, solid OBP, has been a contributor to success on every team he’s played for.

    On one hand I don’t like the continuous parade of Cardinal retreads. On the other hand, it seems the Reds are importing the Cardinal Way which has frankly shown that it works.

  8. I think it is an intriguing move and I have no idea what they are doing. My only thought is that the Reds are trying to change the culture on this team and they have made some moves so far that gives them great flexibility. Still, I do not what they are thinking. I am not bothered by bringing in a guy who has been with the Cards, there is a culture there that the Reds would like to have as well. Hey Walt! You have been very interesting so far, what are you up to?

    • @redmountain: Seems like WJ is making some moves to change the culture, as the Red Sox did last year. In itself that’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, it all depends on the specific moves, and I suspect he’s only getting started.

  9. I am not in favor of letting XP go. XP is solid off the bench, can play all three OF positions, has power, and is a decent OBP guy. I also don’t see Skip as a backup IF with Jack Hannahan. I see him as a 5th OF.

    • @TC: XP has been the Reds best bat off the bench since he arrived. But Dusty did not play him in CF, he has enough trouble playing LF.

      I don’t agree with those who see Schumaker as intended to take XP’s place, they have very different skill sets.

    • @TC: I don’t think he’s much of a defensive whiz. He can catch a ball in LF, but so can Yonder Alonso, part of the time. I like X-P’s bat off the bench. I think he’s a nice part of a trade package, to be honest.

  10. The bench has improved with these two signings. WJ is being aggressive with bench players working to shore that up rather than waiting until January and digging through the bargain bin.

    That’s what he’s up to folks.

    • @TC: Skippy was a guy who probably said yes to the offer without having to hem-haw around about it. In other words, he’s a guy WJ got because Skippy was a guy who was willing to be got. Hell, he was looking for work.

      I am not seeing this deal as anything useful for the Reds. It’s a move and it keeps us from being bored until Friday.

    • @sezwhom1: Yep, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. A major move is coming, I think. I have no problem with Schumaker as an addition to the bench. He’s a pesky LHed hitter, which immediately makes him better than Valdez, Cairo in 2012, Izturis, Hannahan.

    • @sezwhom1: I agree that something is afoot, but I think many of you are going to be a bit disappointed if you keep expecting WJ to be a mastermind magician this offseason. I expect something on the order of the Latos deal or the Choo deal. But you guys are expecting something that’s got so many moving parts that it should be the storyline for a feature movie. I don’t think that’s the case.

      Issues to fix (in no particular order):

      1.) Plug the hole in CF
      2.) Plug the hole at the top of the order
      3.) Plug the hole on the Bench (Schumaker is here)
      4.) Improve the culture of the clubhouse (Schumaker is here as well)
      5.) Find rotation depth
      6.) Find depth at AAA
      7.) Find left-handed relief

  11. This move frees up Hannahan for inclusion in something brewing. My teas leaves keep pointing to the Braves. BP and Hanigan for positions of need for them. Hannahan would give the Braves a solid defensive 3B as a late inning replacement for their 3B Johnson. Johnson almost won a batting title, but his defense is so-so. The Braves have a bigger need for Hannahan’s skills than do the Reds with Frazier’s very good defense. And Hannahan has a contract suitable to the Braves liking.

    • @WVRedlegs: Good observation. The Reds picked up Hannahan when they weren’t sure about Frazer’s defense at 3rd base. He turned out to play good D at 3rd, leaving no need for Hannahan.

  12. You got to give something to get something in a trade.

    I’d read this move to mean Frazier is now also available in the right deal if not actually on the block as BP is rumored to be.

    A team is not remade by nibbling around the edges; and, not everybody who is available ends up getting traded. So, one has to withhold judgement till they see what actually happens and what the return is.

    • @OhioJim: Whoa! We’re not talking about a last place team here. Why are we talking about remaking the team?

      All we are talking about is polishing the edges and finding someone to replace Choo.

    • @OhioJim: So, the fact that Skip Schumaker has never played a game at 3B in his MLB career doesn’t deter you from reading the move to mean Frazier is on the block…

      Hmmmmm.

  13. I feel some of you are giving WJ far too much credit. He is showing a propensity to sign his own boys from back in the day. Dusty has been run out of town, now its Walt’s head on the chopping block and this doesn’t bode well for him. That Broxton and Ludwick signing were albatrosses for this team, how much more rope does he have? Castellini is patient to a fault and that is why this team won’t get over that hump.

    • @Cincinnati Reds Video Poker: He does have a propensity to sign players whom he knows, probably because they are close to being known quantities. As others have pointed out, the Cards are very successful, so not a bad model. Ludwick and Broxton might not look so bird-like to you had they not been injured for most of last year; WJ can only trade with willing partners, and teams with the Reds’ payroll and other resources are limited in free-agent signing.

      • @greenmtred: I think we are evaluating this signing on levels that make no sense. Skippy is a veteran guy who was willing to sign with the Reds, probably because of Walt. He is a fringe player and currently gives Walt somebody who **can** play CF and lead off. As of today, he has Billy Hamilton, who all the scouts say is NOT ready for the show. I think Walt expected Billy-Boy to be able to replace Choo. The reports suggest otherwise and Walt needs to fix the leak.

        Skippy is an easy signing, nothing more. He won’t hurt the Reds, but he’s not the answer.

        • @Johnu1: I agree with you. WJ is trying to improve the bench and possibly the “culture” (I can’t speak to the need for that or the impact of this signing on it)–both identified as areas needing improvement. We’re bored and searching for something to discuss and analyze.

  14. I would suggest not having Jack Hannahan on the roster is the opposite of horrifying.

    Wilson Valdez-.206
    Miguel Cairo-.187(murder)
    Cesar Izturis-.209
    Jack Hannahan-.216

    Here’s to not having even one god awful backup infielder in 2014?

  15. “5. Sabermetrics still trying to incorporate “classiness” into WAR”

    The money quote. Glad to see you haven’t lost your touch.

  16. Is it bad that I really want him to fail his physical? Guy hasn’t had an OPS+ of average or higher since 2009. He’s only had a SLG over .351 once since 2009. Since 2009, he has a whopping -0.3 WAR.. including -1.4 last season.

    As a bench player, he scares me.

    As a player who might actually see a good amount of playing time, he terrifies me.

      • @ToddAlmighty: I’m not a huge OPS fan. In my opinion, OBP should be weighted heavier than SLG. Admittedly, .350 SLG is….sad. Shumaker can be a reasonably valuable payer as long as he isn’t pressed into everyday action where he can give back any semblance of value he produces with his OBP by playing bad defense at multiple positions. If he receives 200-250 PAs per year, I can live with it. More than that…well. Dang.

  17. (3) the Reds are going to eat the last year of Hannahan’s contract (about $1 million) and sign another utility IF who can play 3B and SS.

    That’s a terrifying thing ???!!! I would celebrate. Hannahan could only play corner IF positions and cannot hit. It’s hard to be more useless than that.

  18. Getting rid of Hannahan would be ideal. He really doesn’t offer much value as a replacement or PH. Schumaker is an upgrade over him. There will need to be another INF who can back up SS and 3B. Frazier would have to be the full time back up 1B, as he’s the only one who’s played there.

    So with only 5 spots open on the bench, Schumaker, Pena, 3B/SS, Paul, and Heisey would be it. Unless they decided they would not tender Heisey or Paul. I would like to keep Paul over Heisey. But who would be the RH bat off the bench, or who would back up CF?

    Ideally, I would cut ties with both Heisey and Hannahan. Bring up Hamilton and sign/trade for a CF to show Hamilton the ropes and platoon with him. Maybe someone like Franklin Gutierrez. Either way, I hope this is a sign that the bench is going to be better and that some personnel changes are going to be made.

  19. The Tigers don’t have anyone to play 2B. For a team with money, Phillips contract isn’t bad at the current rate for a GG fielder with a bat that won’t hurt their line-up. I would think they would prefer the certainty of 4 more years over the concern of overpaying 3-4 years down the road.

    Who might they have to trade that the Reds would want?

    • @MikeC: But who’s on second? If the Reds haven’t morphed into a rebuilding mode, if they want to contend, they can’t afford a serious downgrade anywhere–aside from losing Choo and Arroyo. As a pitching-dependent team, they really need excellent defense, and BP provides that. Advanced metrics show him to have had a down year, and I won’t argue except to say: list all of the players in the modern era who have driven in 100 runs in a season? How many bums do you see on the list?

  20. Yeah, I think I agree with most. As long as Schumaker isn’t starting, I’m okay with the deal. As usual, it’s a year too long for a guy who is a marginal player, but I doubt he’s making much more than a million per season. He gets on base at a decent clip and can play a few positions at a slightly below average level.

    The real issue with this signing is that it seems like there are a bunch of redundant bench pieces under contract for 2014. I’m interested to see how things play out on that front. I’m sure more moves are on the horizon. Let’s hope they’re good ones.

  21. Utility infielders are to Jocketty what 5 tool outfielders were to Jim Bowden. In all seriousness, I’m keeping an open mind with the roster until all moves have been made. My first thought was he’s hedging his bets with the potential departures of Choo and Phillips.

  22. The guys who should be worried is Heisey. He should be on the trading block because he is into arbitration and is getting expensive for the little production he provides. Schumaker is more versatile and left handed, both things we need. I don’t hate the deal unless it involves trading BP to free up 2b for Skip to play there every day.

  23. He’s a nice left handed bench bat. What more could you ask for?

    I think some of you need to change the expectations of what a bench player is. You can’t have players like Joey Votto on the bench. Not sure why this guy is going to hurt this team.

  24. It seems like some are taking this move as a whole on its entirity. For me, since it doesn’t make that much sense, I can’t help thinking there is something else still to come. So, I far as I am concerned, as long as I see a class guy, I’m fine with this.

    Offensively, his OBP is better than BP’s and Heisey’s, though not nearly as much power. But, then, that could change a bit playing in the bandbox of GABP. If he does play, I see him batting early or late, not in the middle. Defensively, I see platoon unless injury requires him to be a regular.

    I just think there’s more to come.

  25. Just to be clear, I’m OK with Schumaker as a bench player, as long as he’s the LH extra OF, replacing XP. That’s probably an upgrade, given that Schumaker can at least play CF. If that’s Jocketty’s intention, I like the signing. The fact that our backup OF can also play 2B (which might end up being a position of uncertainty) is a plus.

    Schumaker is not a utility IF because he only plays 2B. He’s literally not played a single game at 3B, SS or 1B. If Schumaker ends up replacing BP at 2B or splitting time/tutoring Billy Hamilton, I’m less thrilled. Schumaker doesn’t have much of a bat or defensive prowess to be playing several days/week.

    • @Steve Mancuso: If Walt signed Schumaker to play 2B full-time, it’s time to commit Walt. Also, I don’t think Schumaker would be the kind of guy that one would sign to tutor Hamilton at 2B (if there is even an intention to move him there, which I would do).

      In my estimation, some are reading a bit too much into this. I believe that Schumaker is a replacement for XP. He has less power, but more versatility. Also, WAR and other metrics are less relevant with smaller sample sizes. Consider XP’s OPS the past two years as a pinch hitter (a bit above .900 in both years). In 2012, he had one home run. In 2013, he had three. The three home runs in 2013, given number of at bats, belie the fact that he was, for the most part, a pretty useless pinch hitter in 2013 (when compared to 2012).

      Also, the metrics that indicate that Schumaker is not that great of a player (he is not) do not account for the broader set of options that are possible when a player like Schumaker (with his defensive versatility) is available. So, while Schumaker may be comparable in terms of WAR, Schumaker is likely to be markedly more valuable in the context of the team/season than XP is. For this reason alone (I could also discuss the “classy” factor, which though unquantifiable, can nonetheless be important for such abstract things as “attitude” and “teamwork” and “selflessness”), I like this signing.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I can understand what you and others are saying. However, what if Walt has signed Skip to start, only to use BP’s money on another position/player with even a better bat? For instance, only as an example, sign Skip to start at 2nd in order to have more money to keep Choo around, or something like that? I could then possibly understand doing this. But, that’s why I said we still need to see what’s up. I still think something else is coming. For, signing that catcher, signing Skip, when we have a great catching tandum already, when we have BP already and it’s normally not that hard to find a backup 2nd baseman. These two moves, unto themselves, just don’t make sense. So, what’s more likely, Walt going with only these moves? Or, Walt making room for something bigger down the road, hopefully soon? Probably the latter.

  26. What we don’t know is how much impact Bryan Price had on this signing. If he had no impact on it at all, then I’d wonder what agenda is being manufactured in the front office.

    My honest opinion is that Skippy is going to be the Reds CF and leadoff guy IF Hamilton can’t get the job done.

    Currently those are the 2 jobs that are open. Or he could be a No. 2 guy in LF if Hamilton can get the job done.

    But if Price had no voice in this deal, that’s a problem. I assume he had a voice, so let’s throw part of it in Price’s lap. What’s he planning to accomplish with this signing?

    Skippy probably was signed at “hello” because of his history with Walt. Walt tells Price, ‘we can get Skippy.’ Price says ‘sure, let’s get him.’

    Then what?

  27. The thing about Schumaker is that he’s not actually versatile given that he’s a terrible second baseman and a terrible centerfielder. I can stand in a bathing suit at the beach, but that doesn’t make me a swimsuit model – if hired by Calvin Klein, I’d simply be an overweight sportswriter playing out of position.

  28. the reds don’t have a guy in the minors that could do what skip does for way cheaper? the reds spend money like they’re the federal government!

  29. Ah, he’s a bench upgrade and it’s a move before Thanksgiving that gives us something to talk about. He’s better than Izturis, Hannahan, et al. While not the most stellar and ringing of endorsements, it is an improvement in an area the Reds were certainly lacking. This may be a rearranging the deck chairs move, but I must admit the deck chairs look nicer this way.

  30. The fact that we signed him to a two year deal as opposed to just one makes me think that the overall goal is to use him as a utility player upgrade, which is something I think the Reds could really use anyways. I doubt that this move is part of some master plan being orchestrated by WJ, but I would suspect the exact opposite to be a factor – there are a lot of unknowns going forward. This affords some degree of flexibility since he is at least competent in both the infield and the outfield, and we could use him in a variety of ways depending on how the potential trades work out (or don’t work out). I think what others have said about bringing in a veteran presence and about WJ’s propensity to sign former Cardinals may also be factors, but it makes sense before even entering that into the equation.

  31. Which would have been a better signing for WJ? Shumaker’s 2 yr./$5.0M deal or one that would have netted OF Nate McLouth at 2 yr./$10.0M? MLBTR projects McLouth to receive a 2/$10M deal. WJ saved $5.0M maybe, but McLouth would have made the better OF. So, this may have more to do with 2B than what we think. I don’t relish that thought at all. Yuk.

    • @WVRedlegs: Yea but I can like McLouth.

      I am not sure I can like Skip although I think John1 has it nailed:

      ” is going to be the Reds CF and leadoff guy IF Hamilton can’t get the job done.”

  32. I don’t understand the logic behind this move.

    Can’t Hamilton and HankRod provide the same or more (with HR also able to play SS and 3rd) for a fraction of the price?

    Oh right, veteran leadership. I thought Dusty was gone.

  33. BTW – off topic but there never is a good chance to observe, there is a lot of cross-club love between the Reds and Bengals these days. Bengals wearing Reds caps, Reds wearing Bengals T-Shirts, guys with the two clubs hanging out on the town together, Geno throwing out the first pitch. It’s great to see.

  34. Jocketty’s tendency to go after washed up (or nearly washed up) former Cardinals has me thinking that he’s really not all that knowledgable about the players out there, so he’s just going with what’s familiar. Maybe there’s method to the madness, but I’m not impressed.

      • @TC: Does Rentawreck count? I can’t recall, but who were the ex-Cardinals?

        Ludwick
        Edmonds (sort of)
        Rolen

        • @Johnu1: I disagree with your entire list, well, mostly. Renteria… Okay, good call. BUT! Ludwick – Injured, otherwise helped the 2012 Reds in a very positive way. Edmonds – You’re kidding right. Edmonds stopped in town for a cup of coffee. Rolen?! The player that helped the team get to it’s first playoffs in 237 years? Dude, you’re killing me. Just killing me.

  35. Pena
    Schumaker
    Hannahan
    Heisey
    X Paul
    D Robinson
    B Hamilton
    H Rodriguez
    Soto
    Felix Perez
    Ryan LaMarre

    All options for the bench in 2014

    I would go get Bloomquist from Arizona and give Felix Perez a shot.

    My bench would be:

    Pena
    Schumaker
    F Perez
    Heisey
    Bloomquist

  36. What am I missing with wanting a cheaper Derrick Robinson as our Hamilton safety-net instead of Schumaker? .288/.367/.375 vs LHP seems to be the answer for backup CF and leadoff that we need.

    • @NastyBoys3: You are correct that Robinson produced a .288/.367/.375 slash v. LHP with a very severe split as a switch hitter, but most of that result was produced early in the season. Robinson really tailed off during the final 2 months to a .226/.250/.226 slash which leaves a question regarding the sustainability of his excellent early production.

      Granted, Dusty failed to utilize his strength as a RH batter against LHP during the last 2 months and really relegated Robinson to the bench with only 4 starts and 34 PA during the final 2 months. I’m certainly not against giving Robinson a shot at a lead-off & CF platoon role, but I would be uncomfortable counting on him in such a capacity with such a limited track record. I’m not comfortable with Schumaker in a lead-off & CF platoon role either.

      Let’s hope that WJ has more options in the works for the #1 & #2 slots in the lineup and for CF.

  37. John Fay reports via Twitter…

    #Reds add C Tucker Barnhart, OF Juan Duran, OF Ryan LaMarre and RHP Chad Rogers. 40-man roster is now at 40

  38. I keep looking at what other teams are perhaps wanting to deal and their needs and compare to what the Reds are shopping.

    I saw something like Brandon Phillips going to the Mets, Daniel Murphy going to Toronto and Jose Bautista coming to Cincy with some other Reds pitching probably going to Toronto and Mets. You could also maybe having someone like Ryan Ludwick maybe going to one of these clubs too with maybe the Reds paying some of the salary.

    Eh…hot stove thoughts. If I’m greedy maybe the Reds get Murphy and Bautista, but then you are probably talking Homer Bailey or maybe Chapman moving in the same deal. I did think out loud on a scrap of paper at work murphy-4, votto-3, bautista-7, bruce-9, mesoraco-2, frazier 5, cozart 6 & pitcher… Stuff you think about while on hold at work.

    • @earl: Oh yeah, I was figuring Hamilton starts at AAA and you get a Heisey/Schumacher platoon in center batting 7th or 8th.

      I know the money and biz of baseball means this won’t happen, but you get bored on hold.

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