Prelude to a trade? Tony La Russa says Colby Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to Cardinals coaches

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UPDATE: TLR got his wish, as Rasmus has been traded to the Blue Jays.

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At this point the feud between manager Tony La Russa and center fielder Colby Rasmus is no secret, with various details being reported since last year and Rasmus having the benchings to show for it.

However, yesterday it may have gone to another level as La Russa said during a local television interview that Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to the Cardinals’ coaching staff:

No, he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion. If he would just stay with what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.

La Russa added that Rasmus “is listening to somebody,” which is presumably aimed at his outspoken father, Tony Rasmus, who has been a frequent interview subject for St. Louis media members and even shows up in the HardballTalk comments section from time to time.

Rasmus reportedly requested a trade last season and rumors of his departure have gotten stronger and stronger this month, leading many people to believe he won’t be in St. Louis past Sunday’s deadline.

Rasmus’ production is down this season, with his batting average dropping from .276 to .246 and his OPS falling from .859 to .753. Of course, even a .753 OPS ranks 12th among the 29 center fielders with at least 250 plate appearances and at 24 years old Rasmus is the youngest guy in the top 20. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak’s phone should be ringing off the hook.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.