Colby Rasmus was back in the Cardinals’ lineup yesterday for the first time in two weeks, and after the game the 24-year-old center fielder and manager Tony La Russa denied the reported “rift” between them.
Rasmus said: “From my side, me and Tony, we’re on good terms.”
However, in downplaying their “issues” that have been reported extensively this month La Russa admitted that the two “had a heated exchange earlier this season” and still took a few jabs at Rasmus:
There is no issue. I feel like he’s got a chance to be a really good player. He’s young. He’s learning. Even while he’s been inconsistent, he’s still a good player. Colby believes he needs to hit for power to make a mark. I stress to him if he can hit .300, he’ll help us a lot more than that. In that .300, there will be home runs. But there will also be going first to third, stealing bases, using his legs. He’s young. In the back of his mind, he knows if he catches one, it’s going.
Keep in mind that earlier this week St. Louis Post Dispatch beat reporter Joe Strauss speculated that “either La Russa or Rasmus is gone from St. Louis before the 2011 season” and columnist Bernie Miklasz opined that the La Russa-Rasmus situation “is very strange and it must end.”
Perhaps the whole thing has been overblown or perhaps La Russa and Rasmus are simply trying to play nice for the rest of the season, with La Russa struggling to do so without still taking the young player down a few notches in the media. Either way, outwardly at least Rasmus is saying all the right things and at 24 years old he’s been one of the best all-around center fielders in baseball, so I tend to think he’s a bigger part of the Cardinals’ future than La Russa.
Yesterday the Double-A Texas League named Mike Moustakas its player of the year despite his promotion to Triple-A six weeks earlier and then the stud Royals prospect celebrated his honor a few hours later with three homers and 11 RBIs in last night’s game.
Moustakas hit .347 with 21 homers, 24 doubles, and a ridiculous 1.100 OPS in 66 games at Double-A. He hasn’t been able to keep up those video game-like numbers in the Pacific Coast League, but a 21-year-old hitting .297 with 13 homers, 14 doubles, and a .569 slugging percentage in 45 games at Triple-A is still incredibly impressive.
Between the two levels he’s hitting .326/.376/.637 with 34 homers and 39 doubles in 111 games, with the former No. 2 overall pick’s only real weakness being a lack of plate discipline. Of course, I wouldn’t be all that interested in drawing walks if I was slugging .637 either and Moustakas has cut his strikeouts even while upping his power.
Things have been ugly in Kansas City again this season, but fortunately for Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, and Royals fans some big-time help is on the way.
Acquired from the Brewers for Chris Dickerson three weeks ago, Jim Edmonds played just nine games for the Reds before being sidelined by an oblique injury and the 40-year-old said yesterday that he’s now leaning toward retiring after the season:
I’m leaning toward shutting it down and being a family man again. I’ve made my mark. I’ve done as much as I can do as an everyday player.
Edmonds will try to get healthy enough to contribute to the Reds down the stretch and into October, but told Milwaukee reporters that he misses playing for the Brewers:
I had a blast there. I miss it, actually. It’s been a bit of a tough transition. It’s never easy to leave guys that you’ve spent four months with. I can’t say enough about the front office, the fans. It’s a great place to play. It’s a first-class organization all the way through. They made it comfortable for me and my family. You can’t beat it.
He also revealed that Brewers manager Ken Macha talked him out of calling it quits just prior to the trade, with Edmonds saying “it was the only thing that kept me going.”
Edmonds has played remarkably well this season considering he’s 40 years old, sat out all of last season after failing to find an interested team, and has struggled with various injuries. He’s hit .277/.337/.481 with nine homers and 23 doubles in 264 plate appearances, and his .818 OPS ranks fourth among NL center fielders with at least 250 trips to the plate.
I’m fairly certain Edmonds won’t come close to getting the votes necessary for the Hall of Fame, but he has a very good case and is perhaps one of the most underrated players of this era. He’s an eight-time Gold Glove winner with 391 career homers and a .902 lifetime OPS that ranks 10th all time among center fielders. Few people seem to recognize it, but Edmonds is likely one of the dozen best center fielders in baseball history.