“Not satisfied with the current product, the Cardinals are trying to change center fielder Colby Rasmus.”
That’s how I headlined my piece Thursday night — a piece that detailed a new contact-oriented hitting approach for the young Cardinals outfielder with direct quotes from his father, Tony Rasmus.
After a bit of digging I learned that the comments were made in a tongue-in-cheek manner, meant as a joke for bloggers and message board types that are prone to jump on any kind of juicy bait. I jumped. I bit. Whatever.
The comments were indeed made by Rasmus’ father — that has been confirmed — and I had no way of knowing they were meant facetiously.
That’s not the end of the story, though. Far from it.
Here is one of Tony Rasmus’ more revealing comments from the original story on Brian Walton’s The Cardinal Nation Blog:
“I’m curious to see this new hitting style at work. What they’re telling me is Colby most likely won’t hit 10 jacks this year but will be more consistent. I’m told that he will look alot like Jon Jay without all the pre swing motion. More like the Skip Schumaker and Jay stuff to left field. IT will be curious to watch.”
This isn’t light humor. What we have here is the father of a prominent Cardinals player publicly mocking the organization on a message board. Tony Rasmus jokingly said that manager Tony La Russa and hitting coach Mark McGwire are attempting to turn his son into more of a Skip Schumaker-type batter.
“To be more like Skip,” is exactly how the elder Rasmus put it later in his diatribe. Anyone with a baseball almanac or a desktop computer knows that Schumaker is one of the least productive regulars in the game of baseball. Tony Rasmus is well aware of that fact and was taking a shot at the Cardinals’ braintrust.
La Russa has talked frequently about pushing Colby to use his legs more on the basepaths and to drive balls gap-to-gap rather than shooting for the fences. Tony Rasmus, high school baseball coach and overbearing parent, clearly disagrees with that strategy and made a mockery of it on a Cardinals-centric internet forum with about five paragraphs of tongue-in-cheek commentary. It was meant to reach a lot of eyes, with the St. Louis front office included.
Cardinals fans were appalled Thursday when the “new hitting approach” story came out. Why are they putting a leash on one of baseball’s best young hitters? They’re turning Colby into Juan Pierre!
The story isn’t true. If there’s a leash, it’s not all that tight. And Rasmus certainly isn’t being asked to stay out of the weight room.
But what’s worse? The Cardinals asking a young power hitter to become more contact-happy or that power hitter’s father taking public jabs at the hitting philosophies of his son’s big league ball club? Remember, Colby has made more than one trade request in the last two years.
You think someone — a parent, perhaps — might be in his ear?