Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Howard Megdal has a nice little writeup on the career of Rusty Staub. He uses Staub as an example of a guy who was traded a whole bunch of times but, unlike the Gary Sheffields of the world, wasn’t considered a horse’s patootie. Megdal’s opening paragraph ends thusly:
But baseball teams managed to trade Rusty Staub five different times – even though anyone who has
ever met the man describes him as a terrific teammate and better human
I’ve heard the same thing too, but not unanimously. There was a lone dissent, and it was a weird one. It came from Mickey Lolich, who — as I wrote a few years ago — I had the pleasure of meeting when I was a kid.
I won’t say Lolich was over the top about it or anything, but when my brother and I started asking him about players he liked and players he didn’t like, he brought up Staub in the latter camp. It was a weird little rant, but according to Lolich, Staub would use new batting gloves for almost
every at bat, throwing away the old one, and because of that people thought he was a prima donna.
Given that Staub and Lolich were never teammates — in fact, they were traded for one another — I can only assume Lolich got this second hand from guys he played with on the Mets. And its entirely possible that the story was infused with some weird resentment over the fact that Lolich flamed out almost immediately after the trade while Staub had several more productive years. No idea, really.
No point here, other than that Megdal’s Staub thing reminded me of the time I met Lolich, and for some reason it was the ballplayer meet-up I’ve had that I think about the most.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.