On this day in 2011, the Cardinals traded Colby Rasmus for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, relief pitchers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, outfielder Corey Patterson, and future considerations (players to be named later or cash). In addtion to Rasmus, the Cardinals also gave up pitchers P.J. Walters, Trever Miller and Brian Tallet.
This trade is still debated by fans five years later. At the time, Rasmus was one of only a couple minor league position prospects the Cardinals had developed that had much success at the MLB level. He also looked like he had the highest ceiling of any of the young Cardinals players at the time. He had just come off a 4.0 WAR season in 2010. He was slumping in 2011 though. A lot of people questioned trading such a good cost-controlled player for basically rental pitching for a stretch run. The idea was that the Cardinals needed more cost-controlled players like this, not fewer. The salaries of the older players were only going to go up. At the time of course it was assumed the Cardinals would re-sign Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and others.
In addition, a lot of people felt Tony La Russa was pushing out a very good player simply because he didn’t get along with him for some reason (and his dad Tony Rasmus). La Russa was an old school manager, occasionally making established stars such as Rasmus, Scott Rolen and others earn their playing time. They’d occasionally get benched in favor of a player itching to get a chance, like Jon Jay. This happened to Rasmus several times in 2011, when Rasmus was slumping. Jay played well and started to take center field from Rasmus. Jay’s play is another reason the Cardinals were able to make this trade.
In hindsight, the trade looks good. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series and Colby Rasmus’ struggles continued for the rest of 2011 and all of 2012. Since then Rasmus had good seasons in 2013 and 2015, and another injury-shortened poor season in 2014.
So which side is right and which is wrong? I believe that intangibles are important. I think the feud with La Russa was a detriment to the team. I understand where the people were coming from who were thinking long-term, and knew La Russa may not have many years left as manager, anyway (of course, he didn’t). At the time I thought it was the right move, but just barely.
My view on it though was partially affected by some of the players I saw coming up through the Cardinals’ minor league system. I felt that some of these players I saw in the minors were going to make it to the big leagues in the coming years and be able to contribute. At that time Shelby Miller and Matt Adams were already at double-A Springfield, for example.