Colby Rasmus has been in Toronto since Wednesday, but the former first-round pick’s departure remains a hot topic in St. Louis and everyone seems to want to weigh in.
Andy Van Slyke, who was also selected in the first round by the Cardinals (back in 1979), was quite critical of the entire situation in a Saturday conversation with Hall of Fame writer Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Van Slyke played 13 major league seasons, mostly with the Pirates. He hung up his cleats in 1995 having registered a .274/.349/.443 career batting line with 164 home runs, 792 RBI, five Gold Gloves and three All-Star appearances. The 50-year-old now makes frequent appearances as a baseball analyst on St. Louis-area radio programs.
Here are Van Slyke’s comments to Hummel:
“According to what I read, he’s never been happier (being traded) since he’s been a Cardinal,” Van Slyke told Hummel. “How can you be happy being traded from the St Louis Cardinals? It’s the most nonsensical thing I could ever imagine. I couldn’t have been more upset than when I got traded (to Pittsburgh). It took me a month to get over it. … Shows you how totally emotionally different a player he is than I was. He’s going from a potential playoff team to a team that hasn’t won anything in 20 years. If he stays where he is emotionally, he’s going to be the same player he is right how. His whole game is derived from emotion. He doesn’t use his intellectual mind; he uses his emotional mind. No wonder he’s never performed the way he should have.
Then his father says the Cardinals have changed his game. Well, I would hope so. He and his father think he’s still playing in high school. He continues to throw the ball to the wrong base and not break up double plays. You can’t do those things at the big-league level. It’s up to the Toronto organization to keep him accountable, like Tony (La Russa) and his coaches tried to do.”
Rasmus, 25 in August, is 0-for-12 with one walk and five strikeouts since Wednesday’s eight-player trade was finalized, but he remains a five-tool talent and seems likely to prosper in his new locale.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.