Colby Rasmus’ father is at it again, says it’s “fairly obvious” his son needs to be traded…

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Just six months ago, we discovered the father of Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus taking public jabs at the organization that his son plays for on a fan blog called The Cardinal Nation.

Winter has passed and the dog days of the 2011 regular season have nearly set in. St. Louis stands alone atop the National League Central and boasts one of the best records in baseball at 38-27. Tony Rasmus, though, is still jabbing away.

In a Cardinal Nation post dated to last Sunday at 9:17am Central Time, the elder Rasmus writes:

Alberts not going anywhere. He’ll end his career right where he sits today, St. Louis. He’ll get 7 or 8 years, over 200 million, and he deserves it. He is the type of player that St. Louis covets and there could be no positive to come out of letting him go elsewhere.

With Albert, Matt, Waino, Jaime, and Yadi leading the way and really good young players in Craig, Jay, Freese, M Carpenter, Salas, Sanchez, Descalso already making a name for themselves and Chambers, Ryan Jackson on the move to the show, the cardinals will be right at the top of the division for every one of Albert’s years in St. Louis. He is not a dummy. He is a GOD here, and the team will remain winners for the duration of his career.

You’ll notice that Tony Rasmus left out his son’s name when listing the players that will be “leading the way” for the Cardinals in the future. A Cardinal Nation commenter probed for more. Here’s Tony’s response:

I believe its fairly obvious that Colby needs to be somewhere else. I highly doubt he will be in St. Louis for the Albert Pujol’s new contract duration. I don’t think Colby will ever be good enough to play in St. Louis. But I knew this way back.

First let’s tackle that last part, where Tony suggests that Colby “will never be good enough to play in St. Louis.” Tony isn’t talking about defensive or offensive production, he’s talking about fanbase perception.

Rasmus is plenty popular and plenty well-liked in most circles of Cardinals supporters, but he makes semi-regular miscues at a position that was manned for a long time by Jim Edmonds, one of the greatest defensive center fielders in the history of the sport. Add to that the fact that Colby has been streaky at the plate this season and isn’t especially eloquent in interviews, and you get a few outlying fans who have wondered aloud whether he should be shopped around. That call for a trade, though only mildly audible, even spawned a column from St. Louis Post-Dispatch big dog Bernie Miklasz on Wednesday.

Colby isn’t completely innocent in all of this. You might remember from this winter’s controversy that Rasmus has already requested two trades in his two-plus seasons with the major league club. He’s had trouble growing comfortable with Tony La Russa’s managing style, which calls for an active 25-man roster and frequent playing time for backups, and there are times when Colby has operated too passively in center field.

It looked early on this season like Rasmus and La Russa had mended their issues. Colby opened with a shiny .290/.374/.450 batting line in the month of April. He had a quality .873 OPS on May 12. But he’s tallied just 19 hits in his last 94 at-bats and went 0-for-7 last weekend in Chicago, the same weekend Tony Rasmus decided to speak up again about his problems with the Cardinals organization on a fan blog.

By all accounts the father and son talk often. Tony spoke of a recent hitting session that he ran for Colby in some of these same Cardinal Nation comment threads, and it’s possible that the two shared a conversation after Colby’s frustrating weekend at Wrigley Field. Which is why we’re suspecting, for the second time in six months, that Tony Rasmus might be in his kid’s ear about pushing for an exit from the Cardinals.

A Rasmus trade would be bad business. He’s earning just $443,000 this year and will be a cost-effective player for another three seasons. Not to mention, he’s one of the top five all-around center fielders in the game at present. If the Cardinals are going to buck up and commit $200 million or more to a long-term pact with Albert Pujols, they’ll need production from inexpensive players, and Raz works right into that strategy.

Colby is in the starting lineup more frequently than ever before here in 2011 and seems to be getting along just fine with La Russa. But perhaps something is brewing in the clubhouse, and what happens if Colby’s current slump runs deeper into the summer? What if Tony Rasmus’ opinions about the way his son is perceived in St. Louis lead to trade request No. 3? It’d be truly unfortunate timing for the red-hot Redbirds.

What in the heck is Derek Jeter doing with the Marlins?

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Last night we linked the Miami Herald story about the Marlins firing special assistants Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

The firings themselves are eyebrow-raising inasmuch as “special assistants” like that are rarely key front office personnel. Former players, Hall of Famers and former managers like those guys are really ambassadors for the team and, particularly in the case of Jeff Conine, who is known as “Mr. Marlin,” why would new ownership want to kick its ambassadors to the curb? It’s not like you can just hire a bunch of new franchise legends for he role. Who ya gonna call? Dan Uggla?

Sure, I can see an argument for changing their responsibilities. If they actually had say in baseball operations, I can see new ownership wanting to relieve them of those duties. It’s also possible that Jeff Loria paid them too much money for guys who are only team ambassadors. So, sure, if the job is too cushy by the standards of the gig, I could see Jeter cutting their pay or their duties to make it conform to what other clubs do with their former stars. Maybe that makes them want to quit. If so, that’s OK I suppose.

Beyond that, however, it’s hard to see why you would NOT want guys like Conine, Dawson, Perez and McKeon to represent your club in the community and in the service of impressing prospective season ticket holders. The franchise’s first star player, a Hall of Famer who ended his career with the club, another Hall of Famer who is from Cuba (which is kind of a big deal in a place like Miami) and the manager who brought the club its last World Series championship are exactly who you want to represent your team. Especially when nearly everything else about your team has, for so very long, alienated the very public you want supporting it.

But let’s say, for the moment, that there was a good reason to fire those guys. Let’s say they’re all flaming jackwagons who have secretly poisoned the franchise from within. Let’s say that, despite his grandfatherly charm, Jack McKeon is a ruthless Machiavellian. Let’s say that Conine, Dawson and Perez beat up copy boys in the stairwells and microwave leftover fish in the break room every day. Even if that’s the case, how does this happen?

And here’s the twist: Jeter asked Marlins president David Samson to fire those four Marlins luminaries for him, because Jeter didn’t want to do it.

Even more strange, Jeter made the request after telling Samson what he already knew: that Samson would not be returning as team president.

It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I’m not sure how Samson doesn’t tell Jeter, “Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself.” Of course, one can only project one’s own sensibility on a guy like David Samson so much, so let’s cut him a bit of slack here. We don’t know how the conversation went. Maybe Samson was happy to tell those guys to hit the bricks.

But really, how doesn’t Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It’s not because he’s not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. Maybe there is more to this than the Herald story lets on, but as it stands now, it comes off as cowardice on Jeter’s part. It’s a really bad look.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter an credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. It has to be one or the other.

Derek Jeter has been a teflon star for more than two decades, but two of the few things the media loves more than Derek Jeter are (a) old Baseball Men like McKeon, Dawson, Perez and Conine; and (b) “classiness.” It’ll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter for seeming content to dispense with both.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.