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.