Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goodbye, Colby.

Looking back on it now, it seems like something that was inevitable. Colby Rasmus is an ex-Cardinal. To a certain degree, I think the Cardinals have made a bit of a mistake. Rasmus has issues, and had earned a fair bit of the ire that he's received from some corners of Cardinals nation. He's requested trades, and by many accounts, ignores the advice from the coaches that are paid to make him a better player in favor of the advice that his Dad (also his former high school coach). This has never sat well with TLR....and that is completely understandable. At the same time, it seems that La Russa has had his mind made up regarding Rasmus while he was still working his way up the minor league ladder.

Regardless, it isn't a stretch to say that Rasmus wasn't living up to expectations this year. His numbers have tumbled mightily after getting off to a good start, and he's started losing playing time to John Jay. He's one of those players that has so much natural talent that it can sometimes appear that he's loafing it in the outfield. Add to that a few dropped balls in some key situations, and you have a scenario that rarely plays well with a fan base that values hustle and "playing the game the right way."

So Rasmus leaves, along with relievers Brian Tallet, Trever Miller and minor leaguer P.J. Walters. The centerpiece of the players coming back is Edwin Jackson, an free agent to be who is in the midst of his best year in the majors. He'll be tough to resign, especially if he performs well now that he's moved over to the NL. The Cards also get relievers Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepcynksi and former Cub Corey Patterson.

This deal does seem to make the Cardinals better for the short term. The offense hasn't had much trouble putting up runs, the rotation has been decent, but the bullpen has shown a propensity to blow a lead in close games. This allows Skip Schumaker to see a little more time in the outfielder, so in theory the infield defense should improve a bit (though with the personnel in place, it will be a minimal increase). The team also expects Allen Craig back from a rehab stint sometime in early August. Kyle McClellan will move back to the bullpen, and the rotation shouldn't suffer from the addition of Jackson. Rzepcynski will hopefully be an upgrade in the left handed reliever department, Dotel has closing experience (a role I hope he never fills in STL) and there are worse backup outfielders in the league than Patterson.

I have mixed emotions on the deal. On one hand, Colby wasn't looking like the player that we expected him to be. But at 24, it isn't like he's reached that point in his career where he settles in as a 'good' player rather than improving and becoming a great player. Last year, Ludwick was sent packing after an underwhelming and injury filled first half, and Jay faltered a bit down the stretch as he went from sub to starter. But now we're sure he's ready to handle things as the starting center fielder? Then again, the only season that we should be worried about here is 2011 -- we might well wish this trade has never happened a year from now, but if the Cardinals can use this move to get into the playoffs and hopefully make a run to the World Series, the trade of Rasmus will be nothing more than a footnote to the season.

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