UCB Roundtable – At Season’s End


The roundtable discussion continues, and I posted the following question to the fellow United Cardinal Bloggers:

For a couple of years now, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of top prospect Colby Rasmus.  Last winter he was considered untouchable, but this year there’s been a little chatter about moving him if a deal makes sense.  What is your take on the status of Rasmus?  Should the Cards be listening to offers?  If not, should he make the club next season out of Spring Training?  Should he start the year in Memphis?

Here’s the transcript of everyone’s responses:

Don (The Redbird Blog):

I don’t buy into the philosophy that a player with zero major league bats can be considered “untouchable.”  That being said, baseball minds far superior to mine believe that Colby is a “five tool” centerfielder, and those guys certainly don’t come around every season.  So if I were John Mozeliak, my STRONG preference would be to keep Colby and to give him every chance to break srping training with the Big Club.

IF, the right deal came along, however (see Peavy, Jake), I think Rasmus could and should be on the table.  It always hurts to give up home grown talent, especially when that talent goes on to have future success with another team.  But the bottom line is that Mo should be making the deals that are best for the ballclub.  The Cards have a solid foundation for the next couple of seasons, and adding a few critical pieces to that mix could really catapult the team into postseason contention almost immediately.

Deaner (Cardinal Nation Globe):

A very good question… here’s my view. My gut says that we can’t expect Ludwick and Shumaker to perform the way that they did this year ever again. Ankiel also seems to be injury prone, which could plague him the rest of his career. So I don’t think the Cards should listen to offers UNLESS they include multiple top-notch pitchers. Good fundamental teams (like the Cards usually are) can learn to produce runs without a lot of big bats but pitching doesn’t work like that… either you have it or you don’t.

Haedar (Redbird Ramblings):

my view is that rasmus should definitely be OFF the table. no way should he be traded. we have heard so much about this guy and it would be a huge shame to not get to see him at least take a crack at big league pitching and patrol centerfield in a cardinal uniform. so, he should be untouchable always.

you can always listen to offers, but that does not mean that you are going to take the offer unless it’s very overwhelming. that chances of receiving an offer like is slim to none.

colby should be the cardinals regular centerfielder next season. period. if he has a decent spring, then he definitely should make the team. the only reason why rasmus would not make the big league team is if he plays horrendously (something like a .200 average, striking out a tone and making errors in center which I don’t anticipate happening).

he should only start the season in memphis if he is rehabing from an injury or trying to get back on track from a terrible spring. that’s my take on Raz.

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth):

I think you can piggy-back this onto a couple of the responses from the earlier questions.

Mozeliak should be doing everything in his power to deal from the Cards’ surplus of corner OF this off-season to upgrade at middle IF and pitching.  Schumaker, Duncan, Mather…

That makes room for Ankiel in LF, Ludwick in RF, Rasmus in CF.  Barton and whoever is left can round out the depth.  Heck, Kennedy’s got experience in the outfield now…

Daniel (Redbirds Fun):

If it’s a deal for someone like Roy Halladay, then they should definitely listen to offers.

As for our outfield, there seems to already be a fixture with Ludwick, Skip, and Rick.  I wonder if we can convert him to a second baseman or short stop?  Okay, that’s a joke.  But seriously, if we don’t have the room for him on the roster, it should be a consideration.

 Mike (Stan Musial’s Stance):

I don’t think I’d go so far as guaranteeing him a roster spot, but Rasmus should be a guy that’s not tradeable by this organization.  We should try to move some of our other surplus OF folks first.

There is one thing about Rasmus that concerns me, though, and that’s some of the rhetoric from LaRussa we heard this season about him.  “he has to earn being here” and comments of that vein.  I hope Rasmus doesn’t get put in the same box Reyes was, and I hope Mo doesn’t feel he needs to trade him away because LaRussa’s blacklisted the kid.

I have absolutely NO proof LaRussa’s done anything of the sort; but my “spidey-sense” is up.

Aaron (The Riverfront Times):

Here’s my take: pretty much no player is untouchable. If a team is willing to part with a player of comparable value at a position of real need- say, middle infield, ie Hanley Ramirez or the like- then the deal should be considered, and made if it truly is the best move for the team.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s my opinion. That deal isn’t going to be out there. And for me, I would much prefer to try and build a package of more players, rather than one centering about a guy like Colby. I don’t care if it takes four players instead of two, I think it’s worth it to hold on to a player of this level.

I also just generally don’t like moving positional talent for pitching, at least not often. The injury risk for pitchers, particularly those that can just lop off an entire season, is just so much higher for pitchers that I don’t want to see core players moved for pitchers, unless it’s an absolute can’t miss sort of deal. (Halladay, for example.)

So, overall, I don’t want Rasmus dealt. A player with his skillset, combined with the savings over the first however many years of his contract, make him a ridiculously valuable commodity. I also don’t think he should be languishing away in the hinterlands, awaiting the blessing of the gatekeepers. Get him up here, plug him in, and let him show what he can do.

I agree with what several others have said here about the Cardinals needing to move some of their corner OF depth. When you have the sheer number of players all pressing together at the same positions that the Cardinals do, the only way to properly use those resources is to try and flip them into players that fill an actual need, rather than contributing to a bottleneck.

One last thing: I don’t want to pick on whoever said it, because it’s a very common sentiment, but the whole idea that there isn’t really room for Rasmus because Schumaker is somehow established here is a really terrible way to look at building a team, I think. You want your best players on the field. The ones that give you the best chance to win, not just whoever got here first. If there is a marked difference in the talent of the two players (and there is), then the player with the lesser abilities needs to be moved. Of course, it is entirely possible that TLR looks at it in exactly the way that keeps Schu here, judging by his comments and attitude. Still a terrible way to construct a roster.

Daniel (C70 at the Bat):

Not much more I can add here, especially after Aaron’s discussion.  I’m with him that, while Rasmus isn’t untouchable, he’s like a high-dollar sports car.  If you touch, it’s going to cost you.

I also agree with the sentiment expressed by Mike that you have to get concerned with how Rasmus is being or is going to be treated once he makes it to the majors.  If Tony is willing to let him do his thing (with instruction, of course, to help him) that’s one thing.  If Tony wants to mold him into a super utility player or something, someone does need to go.  I’d still suggest it shouldn’t be Rasmus, though.

I look forward to seeing him in St. Louis next year.  ‘Course, I looked forward to seeing him last year.

 Eric (BertFlex):

My answer is boring in its prudence.

Obviously, you should always at least listen to trade offers in which Rasmus would be involved, even if he is the best thing we have in the farm system (especially since he isn’t necessarily the second coming of Alex Rodriguez). But it’s not like he’s a ticking timebomb whom we just have to deal before his value completely tanks. He’s still a 22-year-old power-speed guy at a prime defensive position, and he has plenty of Mel Kiper-approved upside.

With that said, the Cards can’t put Rasmus on the big club after the injury-marred and otherwise unspectacular season he had last year. Start him in Triple-A and give him a couple months to figure out where he is.

And if he completely falls off the face of the earth, remember that I was telling the Cards to dump his ass way back in October. Yeah, that’s the ticket …

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth):

Isn’t this (making room for Rasmus) a spot where the GM should be flexing a little bit?

Mo needs to think about long-term and that may or may not include TLR.

So if Rasmus is in your long term plans, trade from a position of depth and MAKE Tony use Rasmus (obviously with the caveat that he has earned it, and you’re trying to circumvent any perceived slight from Tony).

Great answers all around.  It should be an interesting winter, and I’m anxious to find out what the future holds for Rasmus.  Don’t forget, the roundtable discussion continues next week, so be sure to check out all of the participating blogs.  Daniel has the schedule posted here

In the meantime, there’s still plenty of playoff baseball to watch!