Exactly one month ago today the St. Louis Cardinals traded Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for minor league shortstop Jake Lemmerman. It wasn’t a trade of necessity for the Cardinals, but rather a trade of accomodation. Under new manager Mike Matheny, Schumaker saw his playing time and role on the team diminish down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Schumaker was still hitting over .300 for the season entering September and was holding his own in the defensive metrics with Daniel Descalso. He was by far the Cardinals’ best option at second base last year, but he didn’t get regular playing time. He made 8 pinch hitting appearances in the playoffs and got a chance at second base in the playoffs for the 9th.
With the reduced role, Schumaker asked John Mozeliak to explore trades for him, somewhere where he could get a bigger role. New Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire lobbied for Schumaker and the Cardinals and the Dodgers made a trade work.
The Cardinals got in return shortstop Jake Lemmerman. Lemmerman, 23, was a 5th round pick of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Dodgers out of Duke University. He hit .233 with a .347 OBP with 7 HR and 46 RBI in 116 games this year for their Double-A Chattanooga team. His .949 fielding percentage in 264 games at shortstop leaves plenty to be desired.
Out of that came the idea that the Dodgers were looking to trade an infielder in light of the Schumaker acquisition. The team already has Juan Uribe to play second base. They also have Jerry Hairston, Elian Herrera, Dee Gordon, Justin Sellers, and the most intriguing name Nick Punto. The Dodgers had depth in the infield and Punto is a guy identified by FOX Sports after the Schumaker trade as a guy they may plan to trade.
So I’m left wondering if the Cardinals ever considered a Schumaker for Punto swap. The Dodgers wanted another outfielder for their bench. The Cardinals needed to solidify the middle infield. It could have been a good move for both teams.
Punto played for the Cardinals in 2011. He earned his nickname “The Shredder” for ripping players’ jerseys off of them after games. He’s liked by his teammates and he can play up the middle with plus defense. He’s a player who has most of his experience as a bench player, but is a guy who won’t embarrass himself if he has to put in a few weeks of starts. In other words, he is exactly what the Cardinals have been looking for to back up Furcal and shore up second base.
Not to mention he’s a switch hitter who hits better from the right side, so he’d be a solid platoon candidate alongside Descalso.
It boggles me that this trade idea was never floated around in the media. It makes a lot of sense for both sides. Both players are free agents at the end of the year and really both are similar hitters with different defensive strengths.
So why not Punto?