Colby Rasmus, the première outfield prospect for your St. Louis Cardinals, has already hit his second home run (in only 13 at bats) of the spring today in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles (I figure some of the geographical confusion has spilled over from Anaheim).
And somewhere in a location far, far away from sunny Roger Dean Stadium, as if by some weird coincidence that you only read about in a Time Life book collection, perhaps Bobby Bonilla has twisted an ankle.
This gets me wondering. If Rasmus hits like 10 home runs this spring, which broken down old geezer will have to get hurt for him to get a spot?
Count me among those that would love to see Rasmus make the team coming out of spring training. With one caveat: he needs to play every day. I would much sooner ship him off to AAA before I let Tony La Russa touch him with his “play twice a week” platoon nonsense. Again, a player like Rasmus needs to play every day…somewhere.
If Rasmus has a monster spring, I’d be more than tempted to let that somewhere be St. Louis. At the very least, let’s not rule it out completely, as La Russa no doubt already has.
Under the standard Tony La Russa Player Development Plan, a guy Rasmus’ age (he’s only 21) will need about seven more years of “seasoning” before he’s ready to play at the big league level. Actual baseball talent only counts for so much (that being nothing) in the mulleted mind of the Cardinal manager. You could maybe knock off a couple years if he had bounced around a few other organizations before landing in St. Louis. But unfortunately for Rasmus he was actually drafted by the Cardinals.
La Russa couldn’t even manage to regularly pencil Rick Ankiel into the lineup card last September. And he’s 28, which coincidentally is about the same number of games the team finished in back of first place in 2007. But who cares if the whole point of bringing Ankiel up from AAA was to see what he was capable of with the team already completely out of contention? Despite all this, La Russa was still doing the usual: benching him against lefties, playing him 3-4 times a week, etc.
It gets worse for our dear Colby. As many of you are probably aware, the only reason Albert Pujols was allowed to come north with the major league club and become the 2001 National League Rookie of the Year was due to the fact that Bobby Bonilla suffered an injury late in spring training that season.
With the vitally important “Blobby Bo” sidelined, a distraught La Russa turned to the next best thing: Albert Pujols. Reportedly, La Russa made the decision to keep Pujols while crying like a little girl and hugging his dog, and only after last minute calls to Dave Henderson and Dwight Evans went unreturned.
The problem is, there is no clear, established veteran superstar the likes of Bobby Bonilla to get injured and pave the way to St. Louis for Rasmus. As much as La Russa would love the idea of a steroid-guzzling 38 year-old patrolling the outfield day after day, Juan Gonzalez will likely be a platoon player at best. So even if the unthinkable happens, and the guy that has one at bat (that’s “I” at bat if you’re using Roman Numerals) the last three years pulls up lame, that would only leave a part-time role for the budding prospect Rasmus.
And of course, La Russa would probably get an aneurysm if forced to start an all-left-handed hitting outfield of Chris Duncan, Rasmus, and Ankiel. Even if the entire infield ends up being all right-handed, which is entirely possible. The latter is for some reason acceptable, while the former is not.
It all adds up to Colby Rasmus spending much of his summer in Memphis, no matter how many home runs he hits in Jupiter. The St. Louis Cardinals Youth Movement marches on.