Tony La Russa and the Cardinals have been vocal about mid-afternoon start times recently. It started back in the regular season, actually, but this week we’ve once again heard about how the shadows that fall across the field at around 4PM Central time make it difficult for the Cardinals. I suppose it makes it difficult for both teams, but let’s not concern ourselves with that.
We’ve heard the complaint enough that, understandably, some people have accused La Russa and the Cardinals of using the shadows as an excuse. Of — dare I say it? — whining. Well, La Russa takes exception to his team being called a bunch of whiners. If you’re less charitable than me,* you might even characterize it as whining:
Sensitive to characterizations of his players as “whining” over visibility issues during Game 3 Tuesday afternoon, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa used blunt language to admonish media members for their presentation of the issue … “If you don’t answer the question, then you’re not cooperative. If you do answer the question, you come out like excuse-makers,” La Russa asserted. “That really (angers me). If there’s one thing this team is not it is excuse-makers. … The only thing that can not be ignored, it can be dangerous.”
He later added, “Anyone who would accuse this team of whining has not been around it. That’s an insult to me and to them.”
I get La Russa’s point here — sometimes you can’t win — but at some point you just gotta zip it, because you can’t complain your way out of being accused of being a complainer.
*Oh, wait. Sorry.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.