Author: Mike Florio

Something strange is going on between Tony La Russa and Colby Rasmus


Colby Rasmus hasn’t started a game in two weeks, in part because of a calf injury and in part because of what appears to be an increasingly sour relationship with manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus made it clear that he was healthy enough to play over the weekend and he was initially in yesterday’s posted lineup, but was removed just minutes before the first pitch. La Russa made no mention of the decision during his pregame media briefing and after the game said: “When a guy’s ready, you give him one more day just to have that peace of mind.”
Which doesn’t sound weird, except for the part about Rasmus being in the original lineup that was posted for two hours. Rasmus didn’t make it an issue after the game, but reading between the lines most writers covering the Cardinals seem convinced that his relationship with La Russa has gotten very bad.
La Russa has said some things negatively comparing Rasmus to Jon Jay and reportedly doesn’t like that Rasmus’ father gives him hitting coaching. Officially the explanation given for Rasmus being scratched from yesterday’s lineup was simply “non-medical reasons,” but St. Louis Post Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss described that as “for the Kool-Aid set” and later wrote that “it’s a fair guess either La Russa or Rasmus is gone from St. Louis before the 2011 season.”
Those are pretty strong words coming from a beat writer and Strauss is one of the best in the business, so I tend to think there’s plenty of fire behind the smoke. Beyond that, yesterday veteran Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz tweeted: “I have no idea what’s going on between La Russa and Rasmus, but this is very strange, and it must end.”
La Russa has feuded with players before and in some cases those players have left town because of it, but in this case the 23-year-old Rasmus is seemingly more important to the Cardinals’ future than their 65-year-old manager. After a solid rookie season he’s emerged as one of the game’s top all-around talents this year, playing good defense in center field while hitting .268/.352/.501 to rank second among all MLB center fielders with an .853 OPS.
If it’s true that St. Louis isn’t big enough for the both of them, the Cardinals better think long and hard about whether keeping La Russa is worth giving up a 23-year-old stud center fielder.

Jose Reyes "almost certainly" out for at least four more games


Jose Reyes hasn’t played since aggravating his strained right oblique muscle Thursday and Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News reports that he “will almost certainly miss all four games” of the series against the Braves that begins tonight in Atlanta.
Reyes tried to take batting practice yesterday, but had to stop after six swings and said afterward that “something was there” in the injured oblique. Jerry Manuel indicated that Reyes is available to pinch-run or play defense, because apparently only hitting bothers him.
He originally suffered the injury in early June, but has for the most part played through the discomfort while batting .328 with 26 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 59 games since.

Mannywood no more: Dodgers agree to send Manny Ramirez to White Sox


Our long national nightmare is over.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that the White Sox will acquire Manny Ramirez tomorrow, which means his Dodgers career ended with his coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter and being ejected in the middle of an at-bat for arguing balls and strikes this afternoon.
There’s no word yet on whether the White Sox will send anything back to the Dodgers in exchange for Ramirez or if they’ll simply assume his remaining contract, but Ken Rosenthal of confirms that the 12-time All-Star is headed to Chicago.
This offseason the White Sox chose not to re-sign Jim Thome and instead turned the designated hitter spot over to a rotating cast led by Mark Kotsay. Not surprisingly they’ve gotten some of the worst DH production in the league, so while adding Ramirez can’t get back all the runs and games lost by not keeping Thome it does provide a big upgrade to the middle of the lineup.
Ramirez has hit .311/.405/.510 this season, which is good for a .915 OPS that ranks fourth among all NL hitters with at least 200 plate appearances behind only Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Gonzalez. Whether there’s enough time left for Ramirez to make a big impact on a team 4.5 games out of first place is questionable, but there’s no doubt that the White Sox’s lineup just got a whole lot more dangerous.

Is Albert Pujols the greatest right-handed hitter of all time?


Albert Pujols smacking his 400th career homer last night got me thinking about where he ranks among the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history.
My favorite stat for across-era comparisons is adjusted OPS+, which puts a hitter’s production into the context of the leagues, ballparks, and run-scoring environments he played in. In other words, a .300 batting average, 25 homers, and an .850 OPS were a lot more impressive at Dodger Stadium in 1968 than at Coors Field in 2010.
Here are the all-time leaders in adjusted OPS+ among right-handed batters with at least 5,000 career plate appearances:

Rogers Hornsby      175
Albert Pujols       172
Jimmie Foxx         163
Mark McGwire        162
Hank Greenberg      158
Frank Thomas        156
Dick Allen          156
Hank Aaron          155
Willie Mays         155
Manny Ramirez       155
Joe DiMaggio        155
Frank Robinson      154

Based on that list you can certainly make an argument for Pujols as the greatest right-handed hitter of all time, but looking at career totals isn’t quite fair to all the retired guys because Pujols is still in his prime and has yet to experience a late-career decline that will likely bring his numbers down a bit.
So instead of career totals let’s take a look at adjusted OPS+ through Pujols’ current age, 30:

Rogers Hornsby      175
Frank Thomas        174
Albert Pujols       172
Jimmie Foxx         169
Dick Allen          164
Hank Greenberg      160
Jeff Bagwell        159
Joe DiMaggio        159
Willie Mays         158
Hank Aaron          157
Manny Ramirez       156
Mike Piazza         156

That paints a similar picture, although this time Pujols is slightly behind both Rogers Hornsby and Frank Thomas (which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who read my piece earlier this season touting Thomas as the most underrated hitter in baseball history). So, is Pujols the greatest right-handed hitter of all time? It’s probably too early to give him that crown, but that’s the path he’s definitely on.