If you recall the end of the nursery rhyme, The Farmer in the Dell, the cheese stands alone. And so it is with Colby Rasmus and the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. Through the first 8 games, Rasmus stands out among the other players in giving his team a chance to win.
In the past I have written some rather harsh things about the young Cardinals center fielder, and don’t take any of them back. At the time, they were an honest critique of what we saw him accomplish, or not, depending on the circumstances. If you are quick with the criticism, you must be doubly so when it comes to praise, and Rasmus’ start to 2011 is very praise-worthy.
Critics will point out that Rasmus dropped the third out which would have given the Cardinals an emotional win over the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants on April 9, 2011. That is a fact, but not the only one that you should consider.
- Rasmus went 2-4 in the game, including a home run to give the Cardinals a late 2-1 lead. That raises his batting average on the young season to .370.
- While Rasmus was collecting those two hits, Skip Schumaker, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Daniel Descalso and the combined players hitting in the pitchers spot went hitless.
- It was Tyler Green that failed to put the bat on the ball with an insurance run on third base and less that 2 outs. Anything except a ground ball hit at an infielder would have produced something positive. Instead, he strikes out. Perhaps that would have been the time to use David Freese or Gerald Laird as a pinch hitter ? We’ll give that error to the skipper.
- It was Ryan Franklin, after blowing 2 saves already in the first seven games, who put the winning run on base, not Rasmus. While Rasmus should have caught that ball, it was Franklin that put the Cardinals in the situation where Rasmus’ error cost the Cardinals the game. Oh, we’re not through with Franklin …..
- Let’s not forget that Aubrey Huff (I think it was Huff) centered a Franklin pitch and hit the ball into the waters of McCovey Cove. That will be lost in the box score because the ball was foul. Not yacked way foul, it was close enough for the roar of the Giants fans to be heard all the the way to St. Louis.
- It was Ryan Franklin that walked the potential winning run.
- And it was Franklin that got to a 3-2 count on Miguel Tejada. I don’t need an advanced degree in sabremetrics to understand that every batter’s numbers improve with a 3-2 count. Oh, and let’s add that there were 2 outs so that the base runners were off with the pitch.
- And finally, it was Franklin that threw a 3-2 pitch over the heart of the plate that Tejada nearly hit out of the stadium. With the outfielders playing in, as they should do for Tejada on anything other than a 3-2 pitch, they were all out of position for a ball hit that hard.
The center fielder is the quarterback of the outfield. He had to take charge in situations like the one in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Giants game. Given a general lack of attention to fundamentals, it is not surprising that a communication mixup occurs when you have so many players out of position. Jon Jay and Colby Rasmus were both converging on the fly ball, and nearly collided. Off the bat, it looked like Jay’s play to make, but Rasmus closed on the ball better than Jay. Perhaps he should have called off Jay earler, but maybe he did and Jay couldn’t hear because of a little crowd noise. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s ever happened.
As far as I’m concerned, for his play thus far in the 2011 season, Colby Rasmus as earned at least one of these.