One of the big stories of the 2010 Cardinal season – unfortunately – was the Colby Rasmus / Tony LaRussa psychodrama that played out in the ugliest way imaginable and derailed the emotional lift of the team right when it counted most. We all know LaRussa has a difficult time accepting and consistently using younger players, but the Rasmus situation was particularly irksome. The organization had finally produced an offensive player with a high ceiling (the last being Pujols in 2001), and he was sitting on the bench because … well, nobody really understands why. I know I spit up blood many nights watching Rasmus come out of a game late as part of the LaRussa Double Switch™.
But it’s that word “consistency” that LaRussa has been batting around in interviews regarding Rasmus’ role on the team this year. LaRussa has been telling everyone who will listen that Colby needs to be “more consistent” and have a “better approach” and “develop a winning attitude.” Here’s a typical quote:
"It’s his third full year. It’s still to be determined if he’s going to be a guy who strikes out a lot or a guy who can do something with two strikes."
As a bonafide LaRussa hater, quotes like this one only dig a tiny little knife into my stomach. With LaRussa, it’s always about needling people he doesn’t necessarily like. Rasmus wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time on this club if he hit 55 homers this year. Because when it comes to Colby, he’s always in need of more work.
What truly annoys me is that LaRussa harps on young Colby about being consistent, despite the fact that LaRussa has used the kid INCONSISTENTLY ever since he arrived. What rookie or young player can develop a consistent approach when they are benched while having the highest slugging percentage among NL centerfielders? How can they feel confident of their own position on the club when they are pulled late out of games (despite a plus defense rating) so that Randy F. Winn can play instead??
The mentality and the obfuscation of facts are all right there in that quote. Look at it again. In LaRussa’s mind, this is Rasmus’ THIRD FULL YEAR on the major league team. That is, of course, a lie. Sure, Colby came up in 2009, but did he play a full year? Could we say that he even had a full year last year? Not at all.
For a young player to develop a consistent approach, they need consistent guidance, coaching, and position within the team. These are aspects of the game that LaRussa does not provide someone like Rasmus, and before he continues to needle the kid, he needs to look at his own inconsistent gameplan.