Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a fascinating piece Sunday morning on the once-tumultuous relationship between Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus and veteran manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus was selected 28th overall in the 2005 MLB amateur draft and has already established himself as an important part of the Cardinals both at the plate and in the field.
A streaky hitter and a typical coach’s son, Rasmus sought guidance from his father when he began struggling last season. That, at first, rubbed La Russa the wrong way, but he has since embraced it.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” La Russa said last week in Los
Angeles. “I’ve talked to his father about what he teaches, what he
sees. He knows Colby better than anybody. If he helps Colby, he helps
In turn, Colby has warmed to the sometimes-stubborn but always faithful La Russa.
“I come from such a different place,” the Phenix City, Alabama native told the Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been through some pretty tough times. I mean,
last year I didn’t even open my mouth. I can handle it when he gets on
me. But he’s old school. Sometimes I don’t understand the way he’s
going about it. He’s a real smart guy. I’m not that smart. I’ve just
played baseball since I could walk, and some of those things he talks
about I didn’t understand.”
Rasmus, 23, is hitting .290 this season with a spectacular .397 on-base percentage, a .568 slugging percentage, 11 home runs and 30 RBI through 176 at-bats. Considered a five-tool prospect when he was drafted, the youngster has also swiped eight bases this year and appears primed for several future 20 HR-20 SB campaigns.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.