For any of you ready to pop champagne corks to celebrate the way the Rasmus trade has worked out, it’s just a bit early for gloating. Trades involving young players like Colby Rasmus, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski are often measured both in terms of immediate impact and extended careers. To say that the Cardinals have had the best of the trade so far is to assume that you know exactly what both teams expected to get out of the deal in both the short and the long term. Do you? I don’t, but I’m willing to make an uneducated guess, and I bet you are too.
The Blue Jays have a boatload of starting pitchers all under the age of 27, although Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow stand out for their ability to get strikeouts. Romero is a legitimate ace and an absolute horse, and Jose Bautista is a one-man wrecking crew with a bat/2×4 on his shoulder. He’s the Hacksaw Jim Duggan of baseball, and I’m all in favor of the world stopping every time he comes to the plate. He’s that much fun to watch hit, because he’s like the best combination of Vladimir Guerrero and Albert Pujols. He just needs a pitch to his liking and a enough height on the ball for it to clear a wall 400 feet away. Man crush.
Seriously, it’s amazing the Jays are 61-59 with as many holes as they have in their lineup, but they get just enough timely pitching and hitting to get it done. It looks to me like they are trying to slowly fill some of those holes with reasonable upgrades and are saving some pennies/loonies for a few bigger upgrades some year when they may try to catch lightning in a bottle. Logically, that might be the right formula for a team that just doesn’t have the payroll to compete dollar-for-dollar with Boston and New York but has the enviable ability to find and groom pitchers that most other teams would love to have. They don’t need Rasmus to be an perennial All-Star. They just need him to play like one in the right year. As for what they gave up, you can bet that they have plenty more like Jackson and Rzepczynski in the pipeline.
On the other side of the fence where the grass appears a bit greener right now, the Cardinals are 5 back of the Brewers, and some fans are catching Dotel-mania and playing Scrabble (or at least Words With Friends) in honor of Rzepczynski every other night. I was definitely enthralled watching Dotel put down one Rockies hitter after another, but I was more interested in the reaction of my Tweeps than anything else. The reaction didn’t match the actual magnitude of the moment, and I couldn’t get past the curiosity of that disconnect. Where were these people when Dotel was giving up 2 runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Brewers just 5 days earlier? It’s sometimes a blessing to have a short memory, but it didn’t make sense to me that Dotel was being elevated to hero status so quickly for a few strikeouts against an opponent from outside the division.
As long as Edwin Jackson continues pitch as well as he’s pitched so far, he’s good in my book. The real question comes at the end of the season, because he’s finishing up an $8.35M, 1 year deal this season, and I expect there to be plenty of teams lining up to pay him similar money for the next several years. The Cardinals would be hard-pressed to be one of them. That’s a shame, because a 4.04 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 147 innings indicates that the guy has plenty of potential at age 27, and a full year with Dave Duncan could turn him into something special. Unfortunately, he did play for the Dodgers at one point, so all bets are off.
I’m not sure why Corey Patterson gets any starts in any baseball game, unless TLR keeps mistaking his OPS for his OBP. That said, he’s a former Cubs player, and I’m sure he’ll find decent work next year as a coach or a Cubs/Astros player.
Keep Marc Rzepczynski. That is all. Actually, that isn’t all. He could very well be the only one with staying power who contributes anything of significant value in 2012. Also, he’s one of the few lefty relievers who has given me hope without making me snicker and think of “pitching width” (thinking of you Dennys Reyes).
So, the Blue Jays aren’t even sniffing the playoffs this season, and they gave up some spare parts for Rasmus who may or may not be an All-Star caliber player some time in the next decade. The point is that he gives them a significant window of opportunity to put together 1 or 2 really good seasons to help carry them to the playoffs. In Texas Hold ‘Em poker, that’s the equivalent of playing a lot of hands with decent pocket cards in hopes of catching a good “flop”. If the “flop” isn’t so good, they just trade off excess pieces or pieces that will become expensive in exchange for more useful pieces and try again the following year. If they happen to catch a good “flop”, then they take a shot at seeing what both the “turn” and “river” cards provide. Maybe Raz is around for many years as part of their pocket cards, or maybe he becomes too expensive in just 2 or 3 years.
On the other hand, the Cardinals are sniffing the playoffs, and they obtained some useful spare parts in exchange for Rasmus (who doesn’t appear to be greatly missed yet). The new additions appear to give them more hope for this year, and at the very least Rzepczynski gives them a nice addition to the bullpen for next season. In the way of long term implications, the Cardinals may have accomplished more by way of addition by subtraction here. Rasmus was set to become a much more expensive CF over the next 2-3 years, and the team has several key positions that require financial attention during the same timeframe. Moving Raz also eliminated some unwanted attention from the clubhouse, and it may have given a disgruntled employee a fresh start. There are times when the best thing for the player and the best thing for the team are divergent paths. Let’s all hope that’s the case this time and wish both the best of luck.
TIDBIT: I can’t watch a game on ESPN without wanting to put something through the television, and last night was no exception. Furcal made a noteworthy double play, and both Valentine and Hershiser were profuse in their praise of Furcal for his athleticism, skill, professionalism, and ability to make a wonderful souffle. Unfortunately, they both missed the key part of the play which was Furcal’s defensive positioning. Furcal was playing so close to second base that he didn’t have to break into a full speed run to make the play. This gave him enough time to think his way through the footwork necessary to make the play, and it also allowed him to elevate without drifting so much that he had to compensate for a significant amount of horizontal motion.
MORE BITS OF TID: I still like Hershiser as an analyst, and I still like Valentine as a manager. I don’t doubt Valentine’s knowledge of the game, but I do doubt his ability to transfer his knowledge to the audience. It’s that whole “speaking with words” thing that is such a challenge to him. Also, it’s not that he comes across as all-knowing or a genius-in-the-box, it’s that he didn’t practice what he now preaches nearly as much as he would have us believe. I don’t like the two as a team in the booth, but I like their repoire, and I could see them together as pitching coach and manager.
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