2011 Revisited: Worldview Shaking

If you blog long enough (usually about a week, though some of us don’t even make it that long), you are going to be wrong about something.  The first blush reaction to the Colby Rasmus trade isn’t the same as the post-Series lens we use to look at it today.  Fair is fair, though, so here it is. (I was also wrong on another point–I could spell Rzepczynski before it was all said and done!)

Worldview Shaking

I’m a positive guy.  I give people the benefit of the doubt, figure there are things that aren’t in evidence that I don’t know, and generally expect that people running a business or a baseball team or anything of that nature know what they are doing.

Which is why the earth has apparently tilted on its axis today.

I was waiting to write anything until it was official.  Lots of rumors and talk out there, especially as the deadline gets closer.  You never want to come out and talk about something that doesn’t actually happen.  However, with PJ Walters tweeting about Toronto and Colby Rasmus’s brother doing the same, it’s a pretty safe bet that the trade, as we know it, will be happening.

So it’s Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller (who is expected to be flipped to the White Sox), Brian Tallet, and PJ Walters for Edwin Jackson (whom the Jays received earlier today from the White Sox), Marc Rzepczynski (whose name I will never spell right without looking it up), Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson.  There is apparently money changing hands as the commish has to approve it (as he does with any trade involving more than $1 million), but so far, nothing has changed to indicate that isn’t the case.  (Late note: Apparently the Cards could get another reliever from the White Sox if Miller is dealt.)

That’s the deal.  That’s what John Mozeliak has apparently signed off on.  Then it was like a million voices cried out at once on Twitter and nothing is going to silence them.

The blog posts are already being written and keep trickling in.  Colby Rasmus is a trending topic.  And I have to agree with the prevailing sentiment, which is, “That’s it?  That’s the deal?”

The Cardinals have traded a young, cost-controlled (to a degree–Rasmus will be arbitration eligible after this year, I believe), quality player at a premium position for a rental pitcher and some relievers?  You trade a guy that could have been part of the core of the team for three more years for, at best, a LOOGY and a draft pick past this season?

There is just not that much to like about this deal.  Yes, the Cardinals needed left-handed relief help.  We get that and I agree wholeheartedly.  Rzepcynski has been very effective against lefties this year and he’s not been that bad against righties, either.  However, if you go into this year’s splits (and it’s small sample size, true), he’s been worse away from Rogers Center and been worse on grass by significant margins.  For his career it’s the same way, though it isn’t as pronounced.  I’ll give you that he fits a need, but he’s not worth giving up Rasmus for.  Apparently, the club thinks he can be a starter (he’s been one in the minors) because they’ve determined that no matter what your position in the majors, it’s the wrong one.

Pip did a great breakdown of why you don’t trade Rasmus for Jackson yesterday, showing that yet again the man is on the bleeding edge of things and that apparently the front office isn’t reading the blogs as much as we thought they might.  To get someone that projects, as Pip says, “between Lohse and Westbrook” for the rest of the year isn’t exactly the impact player that we thought the team was looking for before it moved the centerfielder.  With Scott Boras as his agent and the state of the pitching staff in the next couple of years, I can’t imagine any way Jackson is back with this team next year unless someone gets traded.

As for Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson…..nobody told me we’d gotten into a time machine and shown up in 2004.  Dotel’s been passable this year, I guess, but he’s 37 years old and has been up and down.  Not sure who he’d be an upgrade on.  He’s not going to take Lance Lynn‘s place in the 8th, I don’t think.  He’s not better than Jason Motte or Mitchell Boggs.  Where does he fit?

Corey Patterson, well, ugh.  Besides the whole “former Cub” thing, he’s one of those guys that’s hung around long enough to get the “veteran” tag that apparently is so appealing to some parts of the Cardinal decision making tree.  He’s been better the last couple of years, but the last time he was in the NL Central, with both the Reds and the Brewers, he was a disaster.  He’s filler, a guy that plays once a week or so on a lot of teams (which means he’ll likely start tonight, but that’s another story.)

(Now, since things move fast and I don’t write that way, a couple of things have happened since I started this.  The first is that it has been officially announced.  I’ll post the press release when I get it–actually, just got it so it’ll go up after this post.  The second is that the Cards get either three players to be named later or cash.  If they are able to get some quality from the PTBNL list, perhaps this deal doesn’t look as bad.  Flip side of that is if there were top prospects on that list, chances are the Cards get them now rather than later.)

As Bernie Miklasz Tweeted, there’s little upside to this deal.  Does it help the Cards this season?  There’s an argument there, I would guess.  It depends on what Jackson does in the starting rotation, because I don’t think the bullpen was as bad as it was earlier in the year and so the moves probably not do much for it.  It’s a gamble, though.  Can Jon Jay hit like he’s been hitting on a regular basis?  Remember his tail spin last year after Ryan Ludwick was moved.  Can Allen Craig step in and be a dependable fourth outfielder?  There’s a chance the offense is a bit weaker, especially if Rasmus still had a positive streak in him.

This was not an overwhelming trade, which is what Mozeliak said would need to happen to move Rasmus.  This, for all intents and purposes, was Scott Rolen all over again.  (We could hope that it’s JD Drew and that one of the PTBNL is an Adam Wainwright, but I think that’s pushing it.)  Rolen had to leave because he and TLR couldn’t get along anymore.  It happened with Brendan Ryan this last season.  Which means that it begs the question: who actually is running this team?

I’ve been a La Russa fan for a long while, but I said back with Rolen that you can’t let the manager get a situation to the point where you have to give up on a player that can help you.  Especially in this situation, when TLR might not be back next year and Rasmus could be a future contributor, you don’t give him away for spare parts.  Yet that seems, right now, exactly what they’ve done.  There’s a dynamic in play in St. Louis decision making that doesn’t seem to be anywhere else and I don’t think it’s a positive one for the club.

We knew Rasmus was going to leave sometime, though.  If nothing else, he’d have walked as a free agent in a few years and he probably did need to go somewhere else to have his potential realized.  It’s just….this way?  When the reports are you could have gotten a starter, a lefty reliever, and a prospect from Tampa Bay?  Are the draft picks that apparently were such a focus better than current young talent?

However, what’s done is done.  Harping on it won’t help anything, won’t get it undone.  Years later there are still people talking about the Mark Mulder deal and, while this one has the potential of that one, there’s nothing the fan base can do about it.

Although Joe Strauss now suggests the Cardinals could move Motte and Boggs for Heath Bell.  We might be doing this same up-in-arms reaction again before it’s all said and done.  It’s not over until the buzzer sounds on Sunday.  Remember, though, you can talk about it tonight during the UCB Radio Hour!

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