Something strange is going on between Tony La Russa and Colby Rasmus

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Colby Rasmus hasn’t started a game in two weeks, in part because of a calf injury and in part because of what appears to be an increasingly sour relationship with manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus made it clear that he was healthy enough to play over the weekend and he was initially in yesterday’s posted lineup, but was removed just minutes before the first pitch. La Russa made no mention of the decision during his pregame media briefing and after the game said: “When a guy’s ready, you give him one more day just to have that peace of mind.”
Which doesn’t sound weird, except for the part about Rasmus being in the original lineup that was posted for two hours. Rasmus didn’t make it an issue after the game, but reading between the lines most writers covering the Cardinals seem convinced that his relationship with La Russa has gotten very bad.
La Russa has said some things negatively comparing Rasmus to Jon Jay and reportedly doesn’t like that Rasmus’ father gives him hitting coaching. Officially the explanation given for Rasmus being scratched from yesterday’s lineup was simply “non-medical reasons,” but St. Louis Post Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss described that as “for the Kool-Aid set” and later wrote that “it’s a fair guess either La Russa or Rasmus is gone from St. Louis before the 2011 season.”
Those are pretty strong words coming from a beat writer and Strauss is one of the best in the business, so I tend to think there’s plenty of fire behind the smoke. Beyond that, yesterday veteran Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz tweeted: “I have no idea what’s going on between La Russa and Rasmus, but this is very strange, and it must end.”
La Russa has feuded with players before and in some cases those players have left town because of it, but in this case the 23-year-old Rasmus is seemingly more important to the Cardinals’ future than their 65-year-old manager. After a solid rookie season he’s emerged as one of the game’s top all-around talents this year, playing good defense in center field while hitting .268/.352/.501 to rank second among all MLB center fielders with an .853 OPS.
If it’s true that St. Louis isn’t big enough for the both of them, the Cardinals better think long and hard about whether keeping La Russa is worth giving up a 23-year-old stud center fielder.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.