UPDATE: TLR got his wish, as Rasmus has been traded to the Blue Jays.
At this point the feud between manager Tony La Russa and center fielder Colby Rasmus is no secret, with various details being reported since last year and Rasmus having the benchings to show for it.
However, yesterday it may have gone to another level as La Russa said during a local television interview that Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to the Cardinals’ coaching staff:
No, he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion. If he would just stay with what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.
La Russa added that Rasmus “is listening to somebody,” which is presumably aimed at his outspoken father, Tony Rasmus, who has been a frequent interview subject for St. Louis media members and even shows up in the HardballTalk comments section from time to time.
Rasmus reportedly requested a trade last season and rumors of his departure have gotten stronger and stronger this month, leading many people to believe he won’t be in St. Louis past Sunday’s deadline.
Rasmus’ production is down this season, with his batting average dropping from .276 to .246 and his OPS falling from .859 to .753. Of course, even a .753 OPS ranks 12th among the 29 center fielders with at least 250 plate appearances and at 24 years old Rasmus is the youngest guy in the top 20. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak’s phone should be ringing off the hook.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.