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.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.