That’s the best the Cardinals could do?

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Blue Jays acquire OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Trever Miller, RHP P.J. Walters and LHP Brian Tallet from the Cardinals for RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Octavio Dotel and OF Corey Patterson.

I mean, I’m a little down on Colby Rasmus, too.  It’s probably not a good thing that he listens to his dad either as much or more than he listens to his big-league coaches.  His defense hasn’t been nearly as good this year as it was when he entered the league in 2009.  And after a sneaky-exceptional offensive season as a sophomore in 2010, Rasmus has taken an obvious step backwards in 2011.

But this is a great deal for the Blue Jays.  It’s a lot like last year’s Alex Gonzalez-for-Yunel Escobar swap, though this one has even more upside.

Rasmus is just 24.  He’s hit .259/.334/.444 in his three seasons, giving him 111 OPS+.  The only guys 25 or younger with better OPS+ the last three years are Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, Billy Butler, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Pablo Sandoval, Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera.  He’s a long-term answer in center field for the Blue Jays, and the biggest thing Toronto gave up to get him was Marc Rzepczynski.

I just can’t believe that the Cardinals, even if they felt that they had to move him, couldn’t get more for Rasmus.  A legitimate No. 2 starter or an All-Star-caliber middle infielder.  They gave up a terrific long-term property without getting a real difference-maker in return.  There’s the chance that Jackson will step it up under Dave Duncan’s tutelage, but he was working under a great pitching coach in Chicago and was just as maddening as usual.  I do like Rzep, both as a reliever now and maybe as a starter next year.  He’s under control through 2015, and he should be a nice asset for years.

But that’s not enough of a haul for Rasmus.  If they wanted Dotel, he would have been easy enough to pick up in a separate deal.  Corey Patterson?  Really?  They couldn’t even get the Jays to part with Rajai Davis instead?  Davis is certainly expendable enough with Rasmus’ arrival, and his right-handed bat makes far more sense for the Cardinals.  Jon Jay, who will replace Rasmus as the team’s primary center fielder, is a left-handed hitter, just like Patterson.

As for the rest of the players the Jays got, it was really just the dregs of the Cardinals’ roster.  Miller, who reportedly will be moved on to the White Sox as part of the original Edwin Jackson deal, has been useless as a lefty specialist lately.  Walters probably would have been bumped from the 40-man to make room for one of the four newcomers.  Tallet had an 8.31 ERA in 13 innings before going on the disabled list.  Absorbing the remainder of his $750,000 contract was part of the cost of doing business.

The Jays made out like bandits here, even after factoring in the hidden costs.  They were forced to take on $7.5 million unwanted dollars by absorbing the Mark Teahen and Tallet contracts.  They gave up the possibility of two supplemental first-round picks by moving Jason Frasor and Dotel.  And Rzepczynski is an underrated property with his fine 2.97 ERA in 39 1/3 innings out of the pen this year.   But to get a player like Rasmus, it really wasn’t much of a price to pay.

Update: For what it’s worth, the deal is now official and the Blue Jays are also surrendering three players to be named or cash considerations.  Hopefully there will be at least one interesting player in there for St. Louis.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).