Let’s start with this simple and direct statement: Tony LaRussa doesn’t like Colby Rasmus. He doesn’t like the way the kid plays in the field. He doesn’t like his approach at the plate. He doesn’t much care for the quiet, “aw shucks” attitude, either.
Out of an embarrassing 2010 season, the worst aspect was the LaRussa/Colby bullshit that derailed the last two months for the team. There simply wasn’t any reason for such nonsense, and most of it came from LaRussa himself. Yes, Rasmus struck out too much last year, and occasionally played clumsily in the outfield (he also played spectacularly at times). But when you have a young, cheap centerfielder with the highest OPS in the league, YOU PLAY HIM EVERY DAY. But for most of 2010, Rasmus was effectively part of a platoon with Randy Winn and Jon Jay, sometimes removed from games at critical moments for no apparent reason.
But 2011 was supposed to be different. LaRussa and Rasmus had (supposedly) mended their idiotic spat. Rasmus had the blessing of the organization as the future in centerfield with repeated insistence that Rasmus was untouchable. Rasmus had even submitted to an offseason conditioning program (pushed by the club) to strengthen Rasmus for more endurance and a cleaner, all-fields stroke.
So why did the Post Dispatch carry a story about Tyler Greene – AN INFIELDER – starting in centerfield today? And why did that story have the following words from LaRussa:
"Mentioned by the manager as a righthanded complement to Colby Rasmus — on the rare days the third-year center fielder doesn’t start — Greene has been taking some fly balls this spring to prepare."
The midde part about “rare days when (Colby) doesn’t start” is there to satiate the Rasmus boosters among Cardinal Nation, and is not the truth. Why would LaRussa even be seeking a “righthanded complement” to Rasmus in the first place?? Do we need to have a lefthanded complement to Holliday? Or Molina? Or Pujols? Have we been seeking a lefthanded complement to David Freese, our weakest link and player most likely to falter this year? Of course not.
Instead, LaRussa is desperately trying to fit a player into a position he’s not suited to handle in order to satisfy some personal grudge or intuition. The Skip Schumaker-to-second-base fiasco (and yes, it has been a fiasco) happened only because LaRussa dearly loved Skip and wanted to keep him in the lineup regardless of the logic. In the case of Rasmus, LaRussa cannot stomach the idea of making the guy an everyday player, and so he continues to search for rational-sounding alternatives to playing Colby.
It’s ridiculous to imagine that the third best offensive weapon on the team for the last two years cannot be guaranteed a job with a manager who refuses to acquiesce to the obvious: Colby Rasmus should not be part of a righty-lefty platoon with a career shortstop in the outfield of the St. Louis Cardinals.