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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Rumor: Sox offering a joyless Ludwick for Rasmus?

Word is that the White Sox are targeting St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Colby Rasmus in trade, with Chicago offering a player with a very familiar profile and red flags attached.

Blockbuster trades in today’s MLB are much less frequent than back in the pre-free agent days, when general managers like Frank “Trader” Lane made their reputation (and sometimes lost it) through scores of player swaps with their peers.

Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, one of the co-stars of a recent reality television series on MLB Network, may be today’s closest reincarnation of Lane.

Within the last few days, word leaked out of Williams’ proposal to deal his popular, but combustible manager Ozzie Guillen, to the Florida Marlins. The requested take was immense – rookie Marlins’ outfielder Mike Stanton.

In Saturday’s Chicago Sun-Times, another Williams maneuver to acquire a young outfielder with potential superstar talent was disclosed. Two sources indicate that the GM has St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus in his sights.

Carlos Quentin (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)According to a major league scout, the Sox are proposing a package that includes outfielder Carlos Quentin. Other players in the potential deal were not named.

The same scout notes Cardinals scouts were “paying extra attention” to Quentin late in the season, implying the proposed deal may have been under consideration for some time.

Adding weight to the rumor is the news that a White Sox source contacted by the Sun-Times confirmed that Rasmus had been brought up during the final weeks of the regular season.

While Rasmus has had trouble with the Cardinals, Quentin has had problems with baseball in general.

This quote from the Sun-Times speaks volumes:

“The Sox love his raw talent but are concerned about his capacity to grind out an entire season without beating himself up mentally. A team source said Quentin planned to again visit with a life coach this offseason so he could ‘start having some fun in the game’.”

So Quentin already has problems despite playing for the loose manager Guillen and his last attempt at getting professional help did not take. Does he sound like a good fit for Tony La Russa’s grind-it-out a hard nine innings at-a-time Cardinals?

It is not as if there are reports of Quentin beating himself up physically as did former St. Louis shortstop Khalil Greene, but why again take on the additional risk of someone else’s problem?

From a salary and years perspective, this deal would also be a loser for the Cardinals, at least on a one-for-one basis.

Rasmus, 24, with only two years of MLB experience, has four more years of team control prior to free agency. Quentin has just two remaining.

Like Rasmus, the 28-year-old Quentin was a former first-round draft pick, taken in 2003 by Arizona and dealt to the Sox prior to the 2007 season. Chicago’s right fielder made $3.2 million in 2010, his first of three arbitration-eligible years. Quentin is not yet under contract for 2011 or 2012 but will surely be in line for increases.

In other words, Quentin is at the same exact spot in his career as was Ryan Ludwick one year ago. A key reason cited for Ludwick being traded away by the Cardinals this summer was his escalating salary in his final two years prior to free agency.

In terms of on-field results offensively, the two’s recent pasts are eerily similar.

Quentin had a superb breakout season in 2008, during which he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, but dropped off in performance the last two years. Ludwick has the exact same profile – 2008 All-Star and Silver Slugger who did not match that level of play in 2009 or 2010.

2008 CHW 130 480 96 138 26 1 36 100 66 80 0.288 0.394 0.571 0.965 148
2009 CHW 99 351 47 83 14 0 21 56 31 52 0.236 0.323 0.456 0.779 98
2010 CHW 131 453 73 110 25 2 26 87 50 83 0.243 0.342 0.479 0.821 117
2008 STL 152 538 104 161 40 3 37 113 62 146 0.299 0.375 0.591 0.966 150
2009 STL 139 486 63 129 20 1 22 97 41 106 0.265 0.329 0.447 0.775 105
2010 STL/SD 136 490 63 123 27 2 17 69 48 121 0.251 0.325 0.418 0.743 104

One big difference is that Quentin is considered a poor defender, designated hitter material in the eyes of some, and has the reputation of being injury prone to boot, but hey, at least he is four years younger than Ludwick!

Seriously, why would the Cardinals trade Ludwick away in July, only to add a similar version with more warts a few months later while losing two cost-controlled seasons of the younger centerfielder Rasmus to boot?

For this rumored deal to gain traction, there would have to be a lot more to it, it would seem.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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