Cheap Seats

A tale of two outfielders

While the Reds were signing their young outfield star, Jay Bruce, to a six-year contract extension Thursday, the St. Louis sports talk air waves were burning up with chatter about the Cardinals' young outfield star.

Unfortunately, the talk about Colby Rasmus centered around his father's whiney complaints about the work the Redbirds have his son doing over the off season. Tony Rasmus supposedly griped that the Birds are trying to take away the centerfielder's power stroke and turn him into an opposite field slap hitter. The upshot is that those meddling major leaguers were ruining the elder Rasmus' creation and turning him into -- sniff, sniff -- another Skip Schumaker or Jon Jay.

It's amazing how disrespectful a small time Alabama high school baseball coach can be toward a major league club and its experienced, professional staff. I wonder if it ever crossed the elder Rasmus' mind that we already know Colby can hit the ball a long way when he makes contact. It's making contact more often that St. Louis baseball watchers worry about young Rasmus.

Right now the kid is a one trick pony of a hitter, swinging from the heels no matter what the situation.

A couple of years ago at the Baseball Writers Association dinner in St. Louis, a Cardinals Hall of Famer pulled Colby aside and told him he needed to learn how to take the ball the other way instead of trying to pull outside pitches. The younger Rasmus seemed un-moved. So I find it refreshing that the Redbirds are seeming to get through to him this off-season.

If Colby can learn to protect the plate, he'll be able to pick out pitches to drive and he's going to still hit his home runs. And when he doesn't get the pitches he hopes for, he'll find something productive to do with them. He'll be a more complete ballplayer. And that's what's best for him -- and for the ballclub.

But if Rasmus is ever going to have a productive career in the majors -- especially with the Cardinals -- and earn himself a fat paycheck like Bruce, he needs to put his overbearing dad in check and do what the major leaguers -- not the high schoolers --want him to do.