A week ago or so, azruavatar, one of the veteran writers over at Viva El Birdos (a blog I spend most of my time at as dr. howl) wrote about Colby Rasmus… and how it was too bad that he was traded away. After reading it I was like a lot of people, why bring that up again? And he didn’t even cite stats just sort of in a matter of fact manner slammed the decision to trade him away for less than his value.
At the time and since then, I have just not cared that much. The team won the World Series in the most spectacular way possible and I have been riding high on that fact since. I still find it astonishing, but now, today I stumbled across something: Colby Rasmus is a top 10 player in the American League.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an elite level center fielder? This of course will be alleviated and perhaps make the point moot when Taveras arrives on the bigs. However, there are still questions about him playing center field on a regular basis. If he can’t cut it there and is a corner outfielder, this diminishes his value a bit… and the Cards are stuck with Jon Jay or Shane Robinson there in all likelihood. Not bad options, but they are not having this kind of season:
Rasmus is 9th in the AL in fWAR, a stat that attempts to include defense and a variety of other balancing factors to determine true value to a team. Backing away from the convoluted stats department a bit, Colby has 17 home runs, showing true power as well as tons of speed. This is valuable in any baseball player, and we all knew that he had that. What he has added in to the mix is the ability to take walks more and back to his superb defense (I think the guy takes a long time to adapt to new places and situations).
Going just by pure offense, Colby is still a top 20 hitter in the AL. If you don’t buy into UZR, this does diminish his value by quite a bit… but I think in general it should be easy to realize the guy has extreme speed and can cover a lot of ground out there in center. For some reason, the guy sucks at stealing bases though. Guess it’s just not his thing. But he does look like a good and maybe even great player right now.
So did the Cardinals let Colby Rasmus get away for too little? Yes… but it still somehow worked out in their favor (you can’t top a world series win… they probably would have still won it, but we can’t be sure of that). Did letting Rasmus go for too little severely handicap the team? No. Taveras will probably be able to play a passable center field; Craig and Holliday should be in the outfield next year; Matt Adams can play first base just fine, and has tons of potential on offense (gotta find out if he is that power hitter that he probably is).
Joe Kelly knows how to start. But he seems lost out of the bullpen. Speaking of tall, fast players, Joe Kelly can fly. And he can throw a 98 mph fastball in a start. His last game was amazing to me… how can a guy sit around all season with limited bullpen duties and then make a start like that? Sure it could have been a bit of luck, but still… that was an impressive start.
The young and effective bullpen: Trevor Rosenthal. Seth Maness. Kevin Siegrist. We all knew before the season who Rosenthal was, but who is this Maness guy? Just a guy with a 2.70 ERA and a 2.92 xFIP that induces an absurd amount of double play groundouts. And Siegrist has been just as effective so far, if not moreso. He just hasn’t been around as long so it’s hard to tell. And even newer to the bullpen is Michael Blazek who looked very effective the other night right after being called up again (and then not so much on August 3rd… stats as of August 2nd). And I would be neglectful to mention Keith Butler’s quietly dominating 3.22 FIP and even better ERA.
The real anchor to the bullpen is Rosenthal though… without Jason Motte, Trevor has stepped it up big time (granted, Mujica took over the closer’s role, but I think most think Trevor may get some time as closer going forward). Also, Rosenthal has logged by far the most innings of bullpen pitchers on the Cardinals. But the most striking thing is his 1.85 FIP and 2.26 xFIP in over fifty innings pitched not only is the best by far on the Cardinals, he is the 2nd best reliever in the National League and 4th by xFIP. His destiny looks a bit like either a starter or the closer in 2014, if I am about to predict things.
This is the most exciting bullpen the Cardinals have had in some time. Once Motte gets back it should be a lights out relief corps, if it isn’t already. At the moment, the Cardinals sit at the #1 rate in xFIP in the NL, 2nd to the Yankees in MLB…. and their 3.33 FIP is second only to the Braves in the NL.