Believing a general manager in baseball is a lot like believing a politician during an election. Despite frequent evidence of impending betrayal we reference their promises when speaking to others, using an outward appearing belief that what they say is the truth, but then the moment that they go back on it, we tend to forget what was promised in the first place, and go about our lives without missing a beat.
After it was announced that Adam Wainwright would be missing the 2011 season because of his sudden need for a new ulnar collateral ligament, St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters that he would not be looking for outside help to fill Wainwright’s spot in the rotation.
Cue everyone in baseball drafting up potential trades in their minds.
For the Cardinals, waiting is likely the best option. If the team somehow manages to succeed in the early part of the season despite the loss of their ace, they can pull the trigger on a trade that would help to ensure they don’t fall back down to earth. If they begin a slow and long collapse, there are potential assets to sell for prospects and savings that will further ensure their tanking, and might contribute to the Keep Pujols In St. Louis fund.
But let’s pretend for a second that there’s a team out there that could take care of both scenarios, and provide cheap, young, affordable pitching talent to shore up the Cardinals rotation and even splash some cash if it was necessary. And all they’d ask for in return would be a player that was often benched last season by St. Louis’ manager.
St. Louis Cardinals, please allow me to introduce you to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays will most likely break camp this Spring with the youngest, cheapest, most promising rotation in all of baseball. Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch, Mark Rzepczynski and Zach Stewart are all signed to team friendly contracts or under team control for multiple years. None of these pitchers will become free agents until after the 2013 season at the earliest.
While this type of depth in pitching is rare, Toronto can’t boast in the same fashion about its outfielders. While names like Anthony Gose, Jake Marisnick, Darin MastroianniMoises Sierra, Travis Snider and Eric Thames may represent a bright future in the outfield, for at least the next year, Blue Jays fans will have to grow more accustomed to names like Rajai Davis, Corey Patterson, Scott Podsednik and Juan Rivera.
Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, it was expected that Colby Rasmus, a polarizing figure for Cardinals fans, would be on the move this offseason. Rasmus was benched repeatedly by manager Tony LaRussa despite showing massive improvements at the plate in 2010 compared to 2009, amid rumours that the prized prospect and the grizzled manager weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. Even Rasmus’ often criticized numbers against left handed pitching were much better last year, and more in line with his Minor League splits.
2009: 520 PA, 0.38 BB/K, .307 OBP, .407 SLG, .714 OPS, .156 ISO, .311 wOBA.
2010: 534 PA, 0.43 BB/K, .361 OBP, .498 SLG, .859 OPS, .222 ISO, .366 wOBA.
2009: 115 PA, .221 OBP, .257 SLG, .478 OPS, .218 wOBA.
2010: 131 PA, .349 OBP, .461 SLG, .810 OPS, .355 wOBA.
Career Minor Leagues versus LHP:
2006-2008: .371 OBP, .455 SLG, .826 OPS
However, despite a flurry of rumours, Rasmus stayed in St. Louis, with Mozeliak claiming that questions about his future in St. Louis were overblown, and the only teams supposedly interested in the young center fielder were “bottom fishing.”
If you’re going to call Dan Uggla bottom fishing, alright. The truth of the matter is that with Pujols expecting to cost the team a lot of money if the Cardinals can manage to keep him, they probably weren’t interested in acquiring a player who was only worth getting if they could sign him to a multi-year deal.
And if you think that LaRussa and the Cardinals have learned the error of their ways, and would be starting Rasmus more regularly this season, don’t forget about the generally ill feelings between Rasmus’ family and the Cardinals organization or that before he retired, Jim Edmonds had signed a Minor League deal with St. Louis. Despite all this, Mozeliak isn’t likely to give Rasmus away at a reduced rate, no matter the wishes of Albert Pujols.
I’m completely in the realm of speculation here, but I imagine any conversation involving Rasmus would have to involve a package of one of Cecil, Litsch, Rzepczynski or Stewart and include one of the team’s outfield prospects and/or another Major Leaguer and/or cash. The total price likely isn’t much different from whatever Mozeliak was asking for this offseason, but Wainwright’s injury has perhaps changed the Cardinals needs.
While it’s no reason for Jays fans to celebrate like Jonny Gomes, it could open the door to new possibilities for the team to acquire the type of elite player that Alex Anthopoulos has spoken of with a watering mouth in the past.