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

Tony Rasmus is not acting alone

If you are like me, you were relieved that the 2011 All-Star break came to a close for the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of the biggest news stories across the Cardinal Nation during the All-Star break – and briefly across baseball when a bogus Tampa Bay trade rumor circulated on Tuesday – has been the outside hitting instruction received by St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus.

The reverberations resonated all week as the story had major milestones both as the break began and concluded.

Last Sunday, prior to the final game before the break, manager Tony La Russa was widely quoted about the subject, defending his hitting coaches Mark McGwire and Mike Aldrete from any responsibility for Rasmus’ prolonged slump.

The skipper skillfully avoided directly naming the source of the external instructor(s) he instead holds accountable. The assumption was that the reference was to Colby’s father Tony Rasmus, the 24-year-old’s former youth coach and long-time batting mentor.

That the elder Rasmus reportedly threw batting practice to his son in the Busch Stadium cages following at least one recent game could be a source of some of the irritation.

Interwoven in the unhappiness of many fans is Tony Rasmus’ prior outspoken comments posted here and elsewhere on the internet. Though the elder Rasmus had said little to nothing publicly in recent days, he remains a flashpoint for criticism affecting his son.

Taken together with Colby’s skirmish with La Russa and reported trade demands last season, this snowballed into last week’s renewed and expanded trade backlash.

Following the break, on Friday afternoon, Tony Rasmus went on the Bernie Miklasz show on 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis. It seemed an attempt to clear some of the considerable amount of bad air not only from this week, but from the past as well.

I encourage you to listen to the entire interview at 101Sports.com as it provides a much clearer view into how Tony Rasmus sees his son and his internet commenting than one can glean from a few stray quotes that may or may not be offered in their intended context.

Much of the furor in recent days focused on Tony Rasmus’ hitting instruction, which he says like all of his baseball-related contact with his son, has been greatly diminished since Colby’s rookie season.

Also noteworthy is the fact that there is a new player recently added to the coaching staff of Team Rasmus.

Back on June 28, Tony Rasmus, posting here as RCWarrior, made the following remark on this blog in the midst of a conversation about his son’s swing.

“…My intel tells me that he has a guy that is going to be hitting with him once a week from here on out…”

To be honest, I didn’t think much of it at the time, as there are formal and informal hitting coaches all over baseball, employed both internally and externally. Rasmus receiving local help seems logical since his father is employed and lives hundreds of miles away.

Still, it seems noteworthy that this was given no attention during the intense magnification the subject received in recent days.

Tony Rasmus again noted his son’s use of an external hitting coach, this time in a much broader forum – during his on-air discussion with Miklasz on Friday. Yet the subject passed without even an acknowledgement, let alone a follow-on question.

“He’s working with somebody else, not me,” the elder Rasmus told Miklasz.

Now, I am not suggesting this is at the core of La Russa’s concern. Given the dates involved, it seems likely that only a handful of hitting sessions may have occurred between Colby and his new coach. Yet it is a clear indication that the story may have more angles than some have portrayed.

Tony Rasmus declined to comment when I asked for the identity of Colby’s St. Louis-area swing doctor. Frankly, given all the negative publicity and over-reaction out there, I can understand why he didn’t. Even if other players are using the same coach, given the current climate, Rasmus would likely be singled out.

Remember that this most recent flare up began when La Russa moved to defend his coaches from outside criticism that they weren’t doing more to help Colby through his slump. In his radio interview, Tony Rasmus clearly laid down the olive branch on that subject no matter who else is working with his son.

Hopefully all parties can let this pass and move ahead. Of course, the best way for this to happen would be for Colby to perform up to his capabilities.

If this resurfaces going forward, however, assessing blame (or perhaps later on, heaping praise) on Rasmus’ hitting instructors will apparently become even more complicated than today – assuming people ask the questions and consider the answers before the overreactions resume.

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57 Responses to “Tony Rasmus is not acting alone”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    If Rasmus was on a hitting streak, nobody would care what his father wrote, or what their cousin’s hairdresser remembers that her friend told her about what she remembers Tony Rasmus wrote three years ago.

    People are also not going to care what Colby does, provided the team plays well during the back half of the season. Pujols is back and looks primed. Allen Craig will be back soon. The Cards may win a lot of games and if so, people will stop talking about Rasmus and his Dad.

    Some people thought a horde of reporters would follow Mcwire around during 2010. This proved fearful and mistaken. McGwire said his blah on tv and the story died. Hot new stories arise to blot out old ones.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Tony LaRussa got asked about Colby. Tony defended McGwire and Aldrete as available to help Colby, but as not in the loop. Tony likes to defend people. There is nothing wrong with TLR defending his team-mates.
    TLR did not bash Colby and did not object to him having an outside hitting instructor.
    Lots of players may have all sorts of coaches and personal trainers, agents, motivators, guidance counsellors, sports doctors, philosophers, shrinks, and menu advisers, etc, etc. Why shouldn’t they? The stakes are high, its a hard game, pressure, crazy fans, lots of media attention.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Brian’s bud BJ Rains rumored the Cards have explored a Rasmus-Upton trade, with Tampa Bay.

    A trade to Tampa might be a nice thing for Colby. His Dad is friends with Joe Madden. Tampa has a good team. No Joe Strauss writing nonsense about him.
    Would such a trade be good for the Cards? Upton went at or near the top of the amateur draft, coming out of high school. He has stolen 40+ bases in the majors. He’s strong. Joe Strauss does not know anything about his Dad. The potential downside would be losing a left swinging bat and Upton would cost more.

    But maybe BJ is just spreading a rumor and Mo is outfoxing the press. Mo will put on his thinking cap, make some more phonecalls, kick the tires on trade possibilities, and all will be revealed within a couple of weeks.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Jumbo, that rumored trade is uneven in a way you did not imagine. The two players’ contract situations are not comparable. Upton has just one more year until free agency and may make $7 million via arbitration next season.

      To learn how much Upton’s stock has dropped, read this recent article from the Tampa paper. The Rays fan comments that follow are also quite interesting.

      As an aside, the fact that I know BJ (Rains, not Upton!) didn’t cause me to back a rumor that does not make sense to me. I know you, too (at least electronically), but we surely don’t agree about everything. ;-)

      • JumboShrimp says:

        From the Tampa article, it sounds like the Rays would be happy to move Upton, who no longer is priced right for them. They would be happy to get Rasmus, so as to gan 3 more cost controlled seasons out of him. As a 1 for 1, no trade is likely. But the Cards are after pitchers and Tampa has pitchers. Rasmus and a minor league pitcher for Upton and Hellickson could be what the teams chat about. The Cards are rumored to be serious about adding a starting pitcher.

        • Brian Walton says:

          My Rays friends tell me that Hellickson is not going anywhere. That was floated from the St. Louis side only.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            The Rays are not getting Rasmus without giving up a starting pitcher, so it sounds like no deal, unless minds change in Tampa in late July. The Debt Ceiling talks & the Trading Deadline. Deals happen near the deadline.

            • Brian Walton says:

              I didn’t suggest the Rays won’t move any pitcher. I am just saying five years of Hellickson would be very, very expensive for another club to acquire. This is a team where Upton at less than $5 million is their most expensive player. They will be more inclined to try to trade a player at arbitration level and/or approaching free agency. It is easy to float a rumor but issues can arise when thinking through all its implications.

  4. blingboy says:

    I’d like to see us go the distance with what we’ve got. After all, with all the injuries and all the AAA and young guys playing multiple positions, they’ve been through a lot together. And have hung with the competition in the division.

    It has become pretty clear to me what we’ve got with Colby and Jay. Both have strengths that are valuable, but not the same strengths. Colby’s potential, his upside, is often mentioned. But Jay has potential too, his upside is not mentioned, as if what we see now at the dawn of his career is all there is ever going to be. I profoundly disagree with that and believe it is the major oversight most make in the discussion.

    Their strengths are not the same, but are complementary. I’d like to see Jay be the #2 hitter playing right field and Colby as #5 or 6 playing center, for years to come. Jay I think has shown enough. He’s not the power guy typical for a corner, but so what, we have power guys. Defensively, he’s got nothing left to prove. And if need be, he’d be a heck of a center fielder. So that’s what I meant by ‘the competition is over’. It is as far as Jay goes.

    The question is will Jay be the everyday RF or the everyday CF. There is nothing Jay can do to affect that decision. He has proven he can do either. The issue is whether Colby can and will do what it takes to hold his job in CF, both at the plate and in the field. That question has nothing to do with Jay or any other player. Just Colby. So its not a competition. That’s what I meant.

    As to all the Colby drama, I’ve lost interest. Ideally, I’d just like to see him play the rest of the year and see if he shows enough to hold his job. If not, so what. Jay moves over and Craig or sombody else plays right. If he does show enough, offensively and defensively, then we’ve really got something. Hopefully, he won’t get traded for a rental. He’s worth more than that, I don’t think we need the rental.

    • blingboy says:

      If Lance comes back for another year, it doesn’t change things. If the Cards want to spend the moola to bring him back, it would give us another year, or part of a year, to watch Jay and Rasmus develop.

      I think money might be too tight next year to bring Lance back, unless one of the money players isn’t here. And not just Albert, I’m talking about any of the guys who will be pulling down some moola next year.

      One of the things to be considered is with Craig due back, either he or Berkman could be traded by the deadline. I’m not aware of any no-trade on Lance’s part. Not that I think he should be traded, just saying, and it wouldn’t represent any long term loss like trading a young cost controlled guy like Rasmus, Craig or Jay.

      • blingboy says:

        Considering Lance as a possible trade away opens up a new set of possible trading partners. So its not limited to teams out of the running looking to trade a difference maker for young tallent. It could be contender needing a bopper to put them over the top, with an extra middle rotation starter. You could be talking about a guy making $10-12M this year which would almost wash in a trade for Lance, with less than a 1/2 a season still to be paid. In other words, a quality stater that wouldn’t bump the payroll very much. That opens up possibilities, and I would guess Mo has thought of it, even if no one else has.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          you’re kind of on a roll here BB………….where is it you were going again?????????? Cardinals don’t need much pitching……… Cardinals don’t really need to save money? Lance Berkman doesn’t need money…………..he wants to have fun……he’s a thinking man………the Cardinals will be the foundation for his next contract……………….. what do you really think he sees here???????? He isn’t saying what he thinks……… he is playing for a deal in a place that he likes…..model citizen/teammate…..politician…….. ….. any offer made to him by the Cards will be done in September…….not later…….. he will do what he wants……his agent is getting calls right now………….

          NY scores runs…..against good pitching all the time……they most often give up more runs to loose……they are really dangerous right now……more so than the Reds……… we have to pitch well and then score +5 every game…………. real danger and its right now………….

        • Brian Walton says:

          bb, help me here. The Cardinals came into the day in first place and you are considering the idea of trading their best hitter all season long in the middle of the playoff run? Really?

          • crdswmn says:

            Yeah, that seems a little out there to me too.

            • blingboy says:

              I do not advocate trading Lance. As stated, I think we should go with what we have. But I think everybody has tunnel-vision focussed on Colby, as if that’s the only possible thing that could happen by the deadline.

              It is also not a lock that the only possible trade scenario is us giving a young cost controlled guy to a non-contender for a starter or closer.

              The other thing to consider is its wrong to look at Lance’s contribution as the best hitter all by itself. First, look instead at his net contribution, his offense minus his defense. Then, compare that net contribution to the net contribution, offense plus defense that Jay and Craig would bring, plus the contribution of the starter or closer we would get for Lance. I am not all that sure we’d be a worse team if such a thing happened. In other words, are we worse off with Jay backed by Craig in RF and a good starter/closer than we would be with Lance and no starter/closer?

              • Brian Walton says:

                I wonder if a contending club has ever dealt a player at the deadline that is leading the league in homers, is fourth in RBI, fourth in OBP, second in SLG, etc…?

                If it worked, it would be one of the gutsier moves of all time. If it failed, Mo would face incredible criticism. I am pretty sure I would be among them.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        plenty of money to bring Lance and everyone else back next year (including Carpenter) if Pujols isn’t re-signed.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    The prosecutor in the Rodger Clemens trial …………………..a calculated blunder?………. Isn’t it true, that all along, MLB and its political arm have sought to stigmatize players and their habit of using PED’s…… Isn’t this final move just the Ivory part of Barry Bond’s Ebony limbo ????????…………………… And doesn’t R. Clemens no it???? He beat jail time……..as did Bonds…….. but that sign of relief is actually just the H of F celebration balloons losing their air……………………………………………….

    I’m considering sending Waldo up Golgotha …………. just to see his sweet little face. ………… Yes, I’ve had an epiphany today…………… thinking about Waldo…… and how he is likely the foundation for the entire free agent structure………and why MLB owners protect him so diligently ………… so courageously….so surreptitiously…………… and then I thought……….WTFFor ………….. In a group where I read……….lets save some money……..or lets trade Berkman for prospects……..get something for him…………… The actual physical game of baseball is going on around us……… the playing of it is as expressive as a ballet……….. and yet much more revealing because of the emotional scope of its real human stories…………… Scouts have Holiday in trouble……. Colby’s recent adjustments may allow him to survive……… if he was in the vacuum tube he arrived in …….his adjustments scream of their purpose…………………. Both Lohse and Kmac are going into the pit with a bunch of ego starved NY zombies………..who will score runs……… Pujols momentary gluttony better lead somewhere……..his teammates are starving already….. no one talks about Matt’s struggles……..the guy is whipped….he did not wear the All star embarrassment well ………….. at all…….. Theriot has been playing pissed for weeks………… he could well find him self selling car parts next year……….he’s looking at the end of his chance to play MLB…………. throw Skip into that……..only in St Louis does that kid get a chance………. NY will press the AP hype………for many different reasons………. it could very well foul up the whole mess ………………

    • RCWarrior says:

      Good stuff as usual WC. A lot to unravel in that post. :)

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        I’m feeling my TLR angst RC………… This illusion of the demands he puts on the team………… that he is a somehow a rigid task master…………. Thats all BS……….. any credibility he has flies away in the face of the type of problems this team has………… and his favorite pets are there to remind the team of his virility and flexibility in the application of his demands………… to those that must grovel in the hope of achieving their status………………. There is no plate disciple……….. everyone dependent on statistical gimmicks that give permission to ignore any meaningful evaluation of the strike zone……….. I’ve studied a few teams…….never seen anything like this………..and the bad part………I see that the scout and strategists are nailing these guys for it ………. the first thing I do as an owner is fire MM……… from the very beginning his litany has been……….. don’t get cheated……..you too can get paid for hitting Hr’s….
        especially aimed at Skip and Brendan early on……….. now Theriot takes advantage…Molina….. Descalso………… Freese is becoming a power speculator…….Jay does it now………. Hr’s happen to bad pitches by people that are doing there job……… its almost impossible for a hitter to get to 3/1……the guy has to throw it into the bleachers to keep them from swinging at 2/1 or 2/0………… that is exactly how MM hit his Hr’s…….his method……….it is not clever because no one on the damn team is situational accountable……….. Berkman in the all star game…….Roy Halady……. hell yes he is just going to take the middle………. he’s isn’t dull like MH……….. Hell, you little guys shorten up a little with two strike……….otherwise………..DON’T get cheated……………..

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          Let’s look at the fallacy of Westie’s argument. The team is 2nd in the league in runs scored yet only th in HR’s. If we are swinging for the fences, it sure isn’t working! Maybe we are coming up just short – which would be why we lead the league in slugging – despite only being 6th in HR’s.

          Yeah, those scouts really have Holliday figured out – he’s only hitting .333 in his last 10 games and has raised his SLG% .040 points during that time. He must be really wiped out too!

          I guess facts/logic aren’t an essential part of argument in the land of fruits and nuts.

          Up for a little wager Westie? Whether Theroit and Schumaker both have major league contracts next year? I’ll say they do (though hopefully not both with us). What say you?

    • Bw52 says:

      Hip boots and umbrella.

    • Leebo says:

      From what you’ve seen who would you guess that Colby is working with given his recent “adjustments” My guess would be John Mabry. You seem to watch these things closely, would you even make an educated guess or is the sample size too small. I know nothing of hitting mechanics, but he reminds me of Mabry at times. I don’t know if I can articulate why.

      • Leebo says:

        This would not be a bad match IMO especially since Colby probably figures to pinch hit a lot more the second half of the season.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        He is working with whom ever RC says he’s working with Lb……….. Mabry was a good hitter I feel…….don’t see that though……….. this is what I see………. chew toy

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_OVayfVDMc

        • RCWarrior says:

          Gotta hit WC, if you don’t you lose all leverage…..and you will become whatever the big wheels want you to be.

          Leebo, you very well may be right but if Colby is relegated to pinch hitting the second half its on him. The name of the game is results and he’s not getting any right now. The game loves you sometimes and sometimes it hates you.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            He has to beat the scouts and the video RC……….. thats not all that hard………. if he is taking the bat right of his should……it isn’t going to happen………. if he starts there…..and makes his move after the catchers read……..at the beginning of the windup……. that swing plane off the shoulder can be defended……….. as one of two other possibilities…….. he has to be able to push it back well before his kick so that he can drop the hands 4 to 6 inches with his bat angle reduces by 20 degrees……. he has to do that to take the ball deeper……… if he does that…….and they know he will…… he can leave his hands up there to take the inside pitch……or the down and in pitch he loves……….. he’s just like AP……his bat angle is so acute……he has to clear his hips and hands to even develop the head………… the only reason AP is hitting this moment is he is forced to pull his hands into the zone……..instead of just opening up to pull them through………….. if Colby can beat their out pitches……..they will stop making them………. he is a sitting duck at this point…………. there isn’t a way in the world that he can use that small step in move……with leg kick…….and hit the LfC gap…let alone the opo HR he might hit on pitches he knows he would be seeing…………. he is a professional player………he can’t be squatting on an inferior approach……… he should have clear ideas about which position is appropriate for any given count or game situation………….. that process will clear his mind………. the processes that makes up the “read” are 80% of hitting……..and that goes for the speed in which you can visualize multiple defensive solution on likely ball flights too……………its a mental game………. for those that don’t have allot of mental dexterity………. you create tools……function tools……….templates……………….. if he just went up there……stood six inches farther off the plate………and squared up………….they would have to call time out…….pitching coach to the mound and the infield huddle………… and thats the word………..

          • Leebo says:

            No results since the all star break, but good at bats to my untrained eye. Still I think Jay has earned a few more starts, and Colby will be odd man out more than Berky or Holliday. I still hold out hope Colby has a future in St. Louis. It is rare to see the ball jump off a bat like it jumps off his when he is right:)

        • RCWarrior says:

          The Ridgeback is a mean dog….not scared of anything. How about that joker diving and biting the shark. Thats some good stuff right there.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            got one……….Rhody ridge back………. 130 lbs…….
            teeth like a Great White………runs like a cheetah………. sweet as pie….. extremely capable……

  6. Brian Walton says:

    Are we adults or kiddies here?

  7. crdswmn says:

    Is it just my computer or has this board reverted back to the old format? The comments are no longer nesting.

  8. CariocaCardinal says:

    Darn, I missed the fireworks?

  9. crdswmn says:

    Lineup

    1. Ryan Theriot, SS
    2. Jon Jay, CF
    3. Albert Pujols, 1B
    4. Matt Holliday, LF
    5. Lance Berkman, RF
    6. David Freese, 3B
    7. Yadier Molina, C
    8. Kyle Lohse, P
    9. Skip Schumaker, 2B

  10. crdswmn says:

    Lineup

    1. Ryan Theriot, SS
    2. Jon Jay, CF
    3. Albert Pujols, 1B
    4. Matt Holliday, LF
    5. Lance Berkman, RF
    6. David Freese, 3B
    7. Yadier Molina, C
    8. Kyle Lohse, P
    9. Skip Schumaker, 2B

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