2011 Key Player: Colby Rasmus

There are very few players on the Cardinals 2011 roster that will look for breakout type seasons. David Freese will be the only position player that the team looks to for that type of production. Colby Rasmus does not need a breakout season, he simply needs to continue his climb in production from year’s past.

Colby Rasmus has been a frustrating and talented player for this organization. He has been the player that everyone was talking about as he climbed the ladder through the minor leagues. He was a “five tool player” that would be the heir apparent to the center field throne as Jim Edmonds left.

At times, Colby has not disappointed. He has shown discipline at the plate, good instincts in the field, and the power that everyone hopped would materialize. At others times, he has frustrated everyone around him. He has been un-coachable, distracted in the field, and lost at the plate. Most of it has been described as youth. Some have hoped that he has out grown it. In 2011, the Cardinals need him to prove that he has.

Last year seen a public debacle between Tony LaRussa and Colby Rasmus. A behind closed doors meeting became public knowledge when the skipper mentioned the instance in front of the press. Tony was fed up with Rasmus. Rasmus was frustrated with his manager. The young man wanted to be traded out of St. Louis.

The problem is, the Cardinals need young, cost controlled players for the future of the franchise if they are to afford the mammoth deal that Albert Pujols will command. Colby fits the bill for a few more seasons and can produce to the level of being a cornerstone of the organization. At times, John Mozeliak has mentioned his center fielder as a player the team was building around.

Colby simply needs to improve at his normal pace this year. Fifteen to twenty home runs and eighty runs batted in will be more than sufficient from the young man. His patience needs to be there, his confidence needs to settle in, and his defense needs to be what everyone expects from him. As a “Key Player” for the 2011 team, he simply needs to continue doing what he does and settle in to his role.

Ultimately, I would like to see Colby hitting in the number two spot in the order, providing the now famous “damage from the two-hole“. Currently, it is projected that Colby will his sixth behind the trio of Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Lance Berkman. Predicting where anyone will hit in a Tony LaRussa lineup is futile at best, but Colby simply needs to show the patience and delivery that he can produce offensively.

Defensively, I would like to see Colby show that he has overcome whatever it was that he struggle with last year. Word out of Spring Training is that Colby has spent a lot of time in fielding and throwing drills and we all hope it pays dividends. He shows good instincts in the field and, assuming he can capitalize on them, should be able to find himself as one of the top center fielders in the National League this season.

It will not take a break out year from the young man, but consistency from his position can give the Cardinals the edge they need for 2011.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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