Who am I, Why am I here?

Hello everyone, my name is Michael Riehn.  I am a lifelong Cardinal fan and will be contributing my opinion a couple of times a week to the Whiteyball blog.  My Philosophy is simple:  The Cardinals are not idiots.  Looking through the spin, I’m going to try to delve deeper into why I believe they do the things they do.  This won’t make me popular with some, but I believe in my heart of hearts that 3 of the people that care most about the Cardinals winning in this world are LaRussa, DeWitt and Mozeliak.  If we are going to be friends, you should know this up front. 

Now, this does not mean I follow what they say or do blindly.  I can be critical, and love to play devil’s advocate.  Like anyone in sports, they will make mistakes (they jumped the gun on the Lohse signing IMO), and some of them will be big ones.  Saying that, I was never in the “Sign Ben Sheets Now! camp, and had suspicions that there was some reason that his price was going down and nobody was signing him.  Again, the Cardinals are not stupid.

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My first topic for discussion is about the Cardinals top prospect:  Why are Cardinal fans up in arms for Colby Rasmus to be in the majors RIGHT NOW? Many experts feel the Cardinals should anoint him as their starting centerfielder from day 1 of spring training.   Is it because we want to see him right away or do we think he will make that much of a difference in 2009?

Let’s see if I can make a chart without screwing it up (fingers crossed).  Below is the CHONE projections for 5 Cardinal outfielders.   

PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
489 0.253 0.319 0.475 0.794
456 0.254 0.349 0.450 0.799
506 0.267 0.344 0.499 0.843
516 0.246 0.335 0.398 0.733
495 0.285 0.341 0.395 0.736

Now these are just projections, but what if I told you the guy with the lowest OPS is Rasmus?  (key:  Ankiel, Duncan, Ludwick, Rasmus and Schumaker)  Would you still feel he should be a lock to start the season with us?  If so, why?  

A player only has 6 years until free agency.  Long term, would it be better to have Colby cheaply from 23-28 than 22-27. Especially, when we have a options that should do roughly what he would (next year only, he will be better going forward). Can we get the same contributions (or more) from a combination of Duncan/ Skip/ Mather? Logically, wouldn’t it be better for Colby to start the season in the minors? 

Holding his rights is important, but you may believe this is a never ending cycle.  You may ask if holding his rights from 24-29 is more important than having them from 23-28?  In my opinion, the answer to that question should be, “We keep Rasmus in the minors until he has shown to be better than the player(s) he is replacing”.

That is, unless the Cardinals can convert some OF assets into something else of need.  In a perfect world, this is what we’d do.  We need pitching (1 year closer or starter), but you can’t just waive your magic wand and make a trade.  This isn’t a fantasy league.  The market doesn’t look very good for outfielders right now when you see Dunn, Ramirez, Abreu, Griffey, et all still on the free agent market (and other players available via trade). 

can’t wait to see Rasmus roam the outfields of Busch, but i don’t think he should be given a spot until it’s clear that he’s an upgrade over the other options.  Right now, i don’t think it is clear. 

Michael Riehn

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Who am I, Why am I here?

  1. I’m with you on club support.

    Not so much on the Colby front. I think his time is now. He outplayed every other outfielder in camp last spring, but was sent back for seasoning. I don’t disagree with that move.

    If he outplays everyone again this season, he should break with the big club.

    If you can guarantee me that none of Ludwick, Ankiel, and/or Duncan will be hurt this season, I might change my tune – until then, Colby should hit STL sooner than later.

  2. Thanks for the comments!

    I agree with you that he outplayed everyone in camp last year, but it wasn’t by much. It was VERY comparable and all the outfielders had good camps last year.

    Now say Ankiel, Skip, Duncan and Colby have great (and comparable) camps this year, but Ludwick doesn’t. Should he replace Ludwick or get sent back to the minors? What if he has a bad camp?

    It’s not like he’s going to rot on the vine for spending a month or two dominating triple A. There are a LOT of reasons for giving him a bit more seasoning, why do you think we shouldn’t? Do you disagree with the projections and think he will be around the same as our other options (this year)? Do you feel he will lose confidence by spending some time in triple A? If so, why? Do you feel he has a fragile psyche?

    Why does it matter regarding the injuries? If one of them gets injured, you could still call Colby up right?

  3. Flat Tax

    Colby needs to be taken to Gino’s East in Chicago. If he is capable of being able to catch a ball while within 100 yards of the pizza-y goodness, then he will be able to play in the big leagues. If he just stares and drools blankly in the direction of the smells of the deep dish nectar and the ball hits him in the chest, then he will not be able to concentrate and perform against the mighty Cubs. (it’s a known fact that players only exposed to cracker thin pizza lose 76.89% of their coordination when exposed to real pizza)

    GO CUBS GO!

  4. Colby is a historically slow starter at every level he’s been promoted to (which actually probably lends toward a Sept callup, which I think he would’ve gotten, save for injury in 2008). He needs to, and you’re probably right that it’s psychological, be given a spot – whether it’s STL or Memphis – and he needs to be there. Period. At least, in my opinion.

    If he’s going back to Memphis after camp, leave him there until September.

    Projections are just that – what do you think Ludwick’s projections were before 2008? I’d bet they weren’t anywhere near where he wound up.

    Rasmus is a physical freak of nature, I still hold out hope for an outfielder to be traded for a pitcher, and Rasmus is wearing #28 in spring training.

    Those are three good reasons to be optimistic about Razzle making the team. 🙂

  5. I differ with your opinion that Rasmus has a fragile psyche and I think he’ll be excited to come up no matter what time of year.

    Projections and statistics are made for a reason. You can’t be in love with Colby because of his statistical projections at a young age, but then say that you can’t trust projections!

    I do think he could play his way on the team so I’m not totally against Rasmus being called up from Spring Training. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be a given and that we have a lot of other comparable options for 2009.

    I hold out the same hope for Rasmus dominating spring training and making it up this year too, I just don’t think it should be a given because there are a lot of reasons for giving him further seasoning.

  6. Aaron

    So, do we want Colby to become a free agent after his “Magic 27” year? If he is the real deal, that could be costly.

  7. That’s a good point. 27 seems to be the magic year for hitters and 28 is in the middle of his prime.

  8. vivaelpujols

    Your not including Rasmus’ defense. He is a much better defender in center than Skip. Right now Rasmus is a better player, he should be starting.

  9. You have a good point about the defense, but is a 1.5 win difference going to get us in the playoffs? Rasmus could be called up mid-season and not burn up a year of arbitration. Now we are down to .75 wins, is that good enough with what we are giving up? I say no, but I understand the other side of thinking if you feel the Cards are a win away from the playoffs.

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