Posted on 13 June 2011.
[Adapted from an article on El Maquino]
As most people have figured out by now, I start my summer-long tour with I-70 Baseball [this] week as both a Cardinals and Royals writer. So, they may not appreciate the fact that I’m already ripping on one of their writers, but it makes for good reading, right?
[Saturday], a gem popped up on the site entitled “Colby Rasmus Is A Bad Centerfielder.” Naturally, with my near-paternal instinct to defend my boy Colby, I clicked and read. I have to say, I didn’t like what I saw. Some of the highlights:
“[The Cardinals] might have the worst defensive starting centerfielder in all of baseball, and his name is Colby Rasmus…”
“…In the bottom of the third inning [Friday night], Craig Counsell sent a Kyle Lohse delivery to deep right-center. Right fielder Jon Jay tracked it to the wall and leaped but could not come up with the catch. The ball rattled around a quirky little notch in the Miller Park wall and Counsell ended up with a stand-up triple. On the telecast, Al Hrabosky practically screamed about it and the Fox Sports Midwest replay confirmed it: Rasmus was standing in his centerfield position watching Jay attempt to make the play. He simply did not move. He was an innocent bystander, just like the 33,000+ spectators in the stands. It honestly looked like he could not care less.
“Could Rasmus have made the catch? Certainly not. But had he run to back up his right fielder, Rasmus would have been in position to do two things which could have been immensely helpful to the situation: he could have chirped at Jay, who was watching the ball, about his location and approach to the wall/notch; and he could have grabbed the ball on the carom and fired it back into the infield to keep Counsell’s hit to a double.
“The real problem, though, is this was not an isolated incident. Rasmus has a history of playing somewhat aloof in the outfield. But, believe it or not, he is actually a pretty skilled defender…as long as his head is in the game. Rasmus has shown he can make big plays; he just doesn’t make them all the time. And that’s a mental lapse, not a physical one–”
–Stop right there. Yes, I agree (just like Razz would probably agree) that he’s got to play a smarter outfield. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad centerfielder. Chris Reed, you said yourself that his errors are mental and that he is capable of making great plays (of which I left some links to on the comments section of the article). So if he can make said great plays, why chastise him for not getting a ball you yourself said he couldn’t get to and going as far as calling him the worst centerfielder in the Majors?
I won’t justify Colby’s not even trying for the ball, but you should at least understand his reasoning that A) I can’t catch this ball and B) JayJay probably can. Calling him lazy is, I think, a bit out of line. Maybe he is or maybe he isn’t: I have no way of saying how hard he works on his game. But I’m willing to bet a bum wouldn’t make it this far.
“… If he wants to be an elite centerfielder, however, he must step up his defense and it starts with the fundamentals. He has to take charge, call the ball, direct traffic. Otherwise, the Cards may need to seriously think about a shuffle in the outfield sooner rather than later.”
With who? Even if Colby skipped out on some plays, Jay isn’t fast enough to cover center–especially with Lance Berkman to his left. Then what do you do when Matt Holliday gets back? Bottom line: he is the only one of the team’s outfielders who has the speed to cover all that ground.
* * * * *
Okay. . . I’m calm. And I probably wouldn’t even rip Reed’s story except that I saw some other upsetting stuff about Number 28 [Saturday]. (That, and he stole my nickname for Daniel Descalso.)
Unless they get all their news from the watered-down Cardinals.com, who aren’t allowed to post any fun news, Cards fans know that Colby’s dad Tony Rasmus is highly involved with both the way his son swings and the media that talk about the way his son swings. So much so that he even commented on [my] site a few months ago in approval of that written defense of Colby. He talks to St. Louis reporters sometimes, but leaves his mark on fan sites and blogs such as [El Maquino], the Cardinal Nation Blog and HardballTalk, where I first found out he was doing this and how he got the link to EM. Anyways, it was discovered in a Riverfront Times blog that Colby was commenting on TCNB as “RCWarrior;” the same RCWarrior who said this a few days ago:
In my opinion Colby’s chameleon approach to playing baseball since he has reach St. Louis has doomed him….in St. Louis. He has tried to change most every facet of his game to please this person or that person. He never had throwing problems or fielding problems until he reached St. Louis. These changes have been bad judgement decisions by Colby and have hurt his game. The fans have noticed he is not the player that he was proclaimed to be. It sickens me that he chose against my advice I might add to change the way he played the game, lost his aggressiveness, and became a passive looking player that I find hard to watch. He has made bad decisions and forgot how to play the game. Thats my take on the situation and I believe the only way out for him is to start fresh somewhere else. He may forever be this boring player that doesn’t seem to care about the game even if he gets traded but he surely isn’t going to change the way he is viewed in St. Louis. I’d like to watch the kid that busted his [butt] when he played again one day. It may never happen again but a guy can dream can’t he?
At least Chris isn’t alone on the effort issue. Like I said, maybe he is lazy and maybe he isn’t. I tend to lean to the latter, but even his dad thinks he’s not trying hard anymore.
Maybe what troubles me the most is that Cards fans don’t seem to see the massive potential this guy’s got. 30-homer power, easy. He’s fast, can steal, get to fly balls, hit triples. The “chameleon approach” shows itself most at the plate: swing for the fences and strike out? Or hit for average and lose power? If he can choose either and stick with it, he can be the five-tool player I know he can be. Hopefully, he can so in St. Louis.
But the animosity towards him has spread so fast that fans on blogs, talk radio and Twitter have called for the trading of Colby Rasmus–so much so that Bernie Miklasz felt the need to pen a column insisting on the craziness of that conclusion.
My question as a Cards fan in Kansas City is this: Is the Colby bashing a St. Louis-area thing? Fans there seem to be overly critical of the guy for whatever reason (likely the perception of his effort, which I don’t agree with but understand) while I and other national writers think you’re nuts.
They can’t stand Colby, yet they had a love affair with Brendan Ryan: a great fielder but terrible hitter whose concentration was never not in question and a guy who is only a fraction of the player Razz is. And it appears, from Tony Rasmus’ comments, that those fans may be a key factor in driving him away.
Be careful what you wish for, Cardinal Nation. You just might get it.
Postscript: You can hit me up at my Cardinals site or Twitter. And no hard feelings, Chris!