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.

Overall:

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.

Versus LHP:

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.

Comments (32)

  1. I’ve been think along these lines since the Wainwright news was made official.

  2. Rasmus is a stud, cannot see any deal involving him NOT including Drabek.

  3. Agreed. Now we just need to lock Anthopoulos and Mozeliak in a closet for eight hours until they realize how perfect they are for each other.

  4. Dont trade Cecil , any of the other pitchers + as you suggested would makea move for Ramus very tempting

  5. I assume by “Cecil, Litsch, Rzepczynski or Stewart” you mean “Drabek or Cecil.”

  6. The Cards are so low on Rasmus though, I think something like Stewart and Gose for Rasmus is reasonable. I wouldn’t want the Jays to include Cecil at this point though. Either way, I love Rasmus and I’ve thought for a while that he would be a great addition.

    I don’t see the Cards getting anyone of Drabek’s ilk in a deal for Rasmus.

  7. @Ecossejay If by “very tempting” you mean “very tempting for St. Louis to hang up the phone in fits of hysterical laughter,” then OK. (Or… OK, maybe Stewart wouldn’t elicit that response.)

    I could do this all day!

  8. LOL @ Rzepczynski, Stewart, Litsch for Colby Rasmus. I love these Jays talk worthy fantasy trade proposals.

  9. “The Cards are so low on Rasmus though”.

    If Mozeliak is low on a player who’s posted 6 WAR in his first two years in the Bigs, he should be fired immediately.

  10. Travis, just because the Cards are low on the guy doesn’t mean they don’t recognize his value on the trade market. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think people are dreaming in technicolour here. And let’s not forget, what might make them more willing to do a deal now is that they need a pitcher to eat innings and replace some of what Wainwright was going to give them (assuming they’re going all-in on 2011). I don’t see how someone out of AA fits that need, and I’m pretty sure there are other teams who could offer something better (read:more established, 2011-ready). Cecil or Drabek make sense, I can’t imagine the other names do.

  11. @Stoeten: Very true. I think it would be very unwise to trade Cecil or Drabek (esp. Drabek) even if Rasmus was involved and I doubt they’d be interested in any of the others.

    I honestly don’t think the Cards are interested in trading Rasmus at all, but if LaRussa has as much power as we think, they may end up getting rid of him at some point…probably for someone with more “hustle” and “heart”

  12. I think you guys are underestimating power of Pujols deal. Future Cards aren’t going to be able to afford a contract for the hated Rasmus if they’re able to sign ALbert. Cashing Rasmus in now with the Jays, a team that could also offer them cash, which also might be in the Jays best interest to keep Pujols out of AL East could make a lot of sense.

  13. Maybe the cardinals would have interest in Juan Rivera as well? He could replace Rasmus and the Jays could afford to eat his salary if necessary.

  14. I think Rajai Davis would be in any trade, albeit with minimal value. Drabek and Marisnick would likely be the rest of it.

    The Cards should be focussing on trading Carpenter and Pujols, not Rasmus.

  15. Litsch and Rzep are nothing. The package would start with Drabek or Stewart and go from there.

  16. I don’t think the conversation even starts unless the Jays include one of Romero, Morrow or Cecil. The Cards need help in the rotation now. Litsch I don’t think has any value as he hasn’t proved he’s “back” from Tommy John yet and don’t think Rzepczynski really wows anyone. Im not really interested in giving up Stewart or Drabek. Since we’re all speculating anyway, here’s my offer Romero, Thames and Juan Rivera with the Jays eating his contract. If I can substitute Romero with Litsch and Rzepczynski and an absolute boat load of Pujols bucks, I’d do that too.

    • Wow. Consensus seems to be I’m underestimating what Cards would be looking for. Fair enough. I’m only speculating. I guess more conscious of what Jays would be willing to give up.

  17. I hope any trade with Cecil, Drabek or Romero does not happen, even for Rasmus. Collecting the young high-upside pitching and keeping them under control seems more vital and harder for a GM to do than putting together a potent offense. Screw fielding in the OF too (to some extent) – seems to me (read:no data) you can find good bats for the infield and outfield on the trade/FA market much easier than prying a top level pitcher away from anyone, or in the draft. If the Jays really will open the purse strings in a contention window, we can buy bats but not a guy that Drabek could turn out to be. Romero, Cecil and Drabek need to be kept and I cant wait to watch them develop even more.

  18. I would think the Cards would want one of our big three SP as a starting point and having seen us give up Halladay and Marcum in each of the last two offseasons, I’m not so keen on that. That would kind of erase the pitching depth that has been stockpiled. On the other hand, there’s supposedly much more pitching depth on the way and allegedly we’re not really in a contending year, plus Rasmus is the type of stud up the middle player that makes AA drool. Drabek might get it done, but the dude only has 3 major league starts. I just think they’d want someone with more of a track record of success in the big leagues in return for a stud with a track record like Rasmus.

  19. I’m wondering if AA could have extracted more for Marcum had he passed on the Lawrie offer. I like the ‘what if’ game as much as the next guy, I suppose.

  20. i’d part with drabek for rasmus in a heartbeat. or cecil. if jays fans don’t want to start the deal with a certain guy, chances are that’s what it would take to get rasmus.

    look at it this way – would u want to trade travis snider to the rays for jake mcgee and josh sale? yeah, i didn’t think so.

  21. Real talk: I’d trade Brandon Morrow for Colby Rasmus.

  22. Rasmus born 1986, drafted 28th overall, 1 ML season with okay results, 1 ML season with much better results.

    Cecil born 1986, drafted 38th overall, 1 half ML season with slightly poor results, 1 ML with much better results.

    Same age, somewhat comparable results thus far. Granted Rasmus has been slightly better overall, but is his upside enough to offer Cecil PLUS another prospect or two? I of course would do the deal straight up, but the Cards would never bite on that. I would be very hesitant to start offering 2 or 3 pieces for him. If you could somehow keep Romero, Morrow and Cecil out of the deal, then I would try the old 2 or 3 for 1 deal.

  23. It’s a matter of scarcity. You can find plenty of third starter type games (internally even!) but how many five tooled centerfielders are kicking around?

  24. Sorry, third starter type GUYS

  25. I think if anyone was going to want Rasmus/have the pieces to give back to the Cards, it’s the Braves. Nate McLouth is probably not good enough to start in center anymore and the Braves have so many up and coming young arms that a deal involving a Derek Lowe even Tim Hudson might work.

  26. I’m certain AA has had preliminaries and kicked that can around with the Cards. Not that AA would fess up to it. “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you” is his modus operandi. ALL rumours about Toronto deals wil be coming out of St Louis.

    So, some groundwork has been laid out. The Jays will sit back until and if the Cards get hinky by the end of May. If the deal is there, he’ll pull the trigger. If the Cards aregreedy, AA walks. No biggie. Besides if a deal does go down, Rasmaus is the kind of asset that AA flips for somebody else that he REALLY wants.Case in point… Halliday deal—Taylor (part of package)….Wallace….Gose. Gose was the guy AA wanted more than Drabek or Darnaud in the Halliday deal, Philly wouldn’t move. As soon as he hit Houston, he was put back on a plane for Toronto.

    These Card fans are delusional about what this guber is worth. He’s gonna play at 35 pounds less this season? Sounds like Alex Rios, a million dollar talent and a 10 cent brain.

    Centre field and the leadoff spot are covered for a couple of years just fine with Davis, thank you very much. I’d rather wait on Gose, l hope he moves to AA early in ’11 and rips it up. Same deal for Masternik. Now there is a pair of young toolsy burners and defensive monsters with rocket launcher arms. Steal a ton of bases. The power is coming when they fill out. When the projected power comes, and it started last year for both of them, these are 5 tool studs.
    They are young young young, which makes them both better prospects than Rasmaus. Both a lot younger than Rasmaus as well. High character kids, which I haven’t ever heard about Rasmaus. Not a good sign when the best ballplayer in a generation tells you to move on punk.
    Personally I pass on the St Louis part time and character deficient centre fielder. In a NY minute.

  27. The article doesn’t say how long Rasmus is under team control, when his arb years are, what he’s currently getting paid, and for how long.

    This is all important information before forming any sort of opinion about what a guy is worth in trade value – I mean, maybe everyone here already knows this from some random Fangraphs article, but really, it should be included.

  28. @infield pete – I really, really, really think you’re underselling Cobly Rasmus. He’s really REALLY good. He isn’t the type of prospect AA flips, he is the type of prospect AA covets.

  29. Why trade pitching for a guy like Rasmus? Especially when you have a guy floating through like Anthony Gose. Give Rajai Davis a chance. I highly doubt AA will trade a prospect like Kyle Drabek for a centre fielder, not even Brett Cecil.. What this team need’s is a 1st baseman, Spend money on a guy like Prince Fielder instead of trading pitching for a position you already have depth on.

  30. Like someone said up there, There will be teams that have better pieces that the Cards will want over the Jays.. If Beeston is true about the 140-150 budget, why not say hell with it & make a push for Pujols? Or even Fielder.

  31. Would the Cards have any intrest in Hill? If so maybe he can be involved IF’ the Jays had intrest in Rasmus.. Lawrie to 2nd, Bautista 3rd, Davis LF, Rasmus CF, Snider RF. Just a thought.

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