There's no doubt that the Cardinals are better today than there were yesterday. But the big question is what will the trade of Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of journeyman pitchers, a promising lefty reliever and former Cubs washout Corey Patterson will mean for the team in 2012 and beyond.
It seems to me that the Redbirds did what they had to do in getting rid of Rasmus who not only was an underachiever, but apparently also a clubhouse cancer. But they held on to the enigmatic Rasmus too long and were forced to take pennies on the dollar for a guy who last season was still believed to be a future star.
Rasmus has been a problem in the Cardinals clubhouse since day one. Yesterday I did a little googl searching and found a story from his first off-season about how Colby basically had no communication or interaction with his teammates during his rookie year. He seemed to whine that people didn't go out of their way enough to make him feel welcome. Really? Grow up, Rasmus. After that he was a constant problem for the coaching staff because he was basically uninstructable. He tuned out people with extensive major league resumes in favor of the advice of his meddling high school baseball coach father.
You can't have that atmosphere in the locker room. What sort of example does it set for young players when you have a whiney brat front and center every night who pouts and asks to be traded if he doesn't get his way?
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On the positive side:
Edwin Jackson is a really solid guy to be a fourth or fifth starter. He's a big innings eater who will give the Birds a chance to win the game every time he takes the mound. Perhaps as valuable as his presence in the rotation is his apparent push of Kyle McClellan from the rotation back to his familiar role as the set-up man in the bullpen.
McClellan, along with Toronto acquisitions righty reliever Octavio Dotel and lefty Marc Rzepczynski will give the bullpen a much needed facelift. Gone are the days of PJ Walters filling the bases -- and then cleaning them off with a grand slam allowed -- when the Birds are up by seven late in a game.
Rzepczynski is the shut down lefty the club craved while Trever Miller was allowing the first batter he faced in a game -- usually the only batter he faced -- to get on base 46 percent of the time. Dotel is a hard throwing righty who can do the job Jose Bautista couldn't: getting out of a jam in the middle innings.
Let's face it, while Rasmus hit a few impressive homers here and there, he wasn't a big part of the Cardinals offense this season. He went through a two-month slump in which he was nothing more than a black hole in the line-up. My biggest worry in the short term is about the health of Lance Berkman. If Berkman is out for an extended of time, the Birds will be hurting in the outfield. Jon Jay can play centerfield. But he can't really bat fifth in the batting order. I see him more as a second place sort of hitter -- a high on base percentage sort of guy who will hit some doubles but not a lot of homers.
If the roster the Cardinals have in place is healthy, the Birds will be much better off now than they were yesterday. And, maybe Rasmus will bloom in Toronto with a fresh start. I doubt it. But I still think we could have got more for him as long as there are sabrematricians out there who haven't seen him play in person.