I know what you are thinking. With a title like that, you might be expecting some sort of twisted last minute jab at the expense of the Cardinals former center fielder.
No, this is not one of those times, I am serious. For his hard work while progressing through the Cardinals farm system, for his play throughout his first two and one half major league seasons, and most important, for being the kind of talent that the Toronto Blue Jays were willing to obtain Edwin Jackson and part with both Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, we owe Colby Rasmus a giant THANK YOU.
For their part in all of this, the Cardinals should vote Rasmus a full share of the World Series bonus.
Why yes, there is a historical precedent for such things, I’m so glad you asked.
Jim Cosman – 1967
Jim Cosman was voted a full share following the 1967 World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox. While his contributions may be long forgotten, buried deep down in the team statistics, it was not not lost on the players and coaches of the team. When Ray Washburn went on the disabled list in late June, missing nearly a month, it was Cosman who stepped into Washburn’s spot in the rotation and held serve until the big right hander came back. In the first game, Cosman pitched a gem against the Giants, taking a 4 hitter into the ninth inning. He would leave the game to sounds of a huge standing ovation from the Cardinals fans in attendance. He would also earn the win, the second and last of his major league career. He pitched another gem in early July against the Cincinnati Reds, but a late bullpen failure gave him a no-decision for his effort.
Sadly, the story of Jim Cosman ends there. Control issues plagued the young right hander, and when you threw as hard as Cosman, control becomes more than just walks. It can get dangerous. It did in a few cases, and that cut short a very promising career.
For this efforts, Cosman was rewarded with a full share of the Cardinals World Series bonus.
How about that? You’re looking for a reason these guys win pennants and World Series. How about giving a guy like me $8,600. That’s how great these guys are. That’s why they are champions. — Jim Cosman, 1968
Andy Rincon – 1982
When Whitey Herzog took over the reigns late in the 1980 season, one of his first tasks was to survey the minor league system to see what talent was available, and ready to play in the major leagues. When the rosters expanded at the end of the season, John Martin, Al Olmsted and Andy Rincon were given an extended audition for possible roster spots in 1981. Martin and Olmsted were good, but it was Rincon that made the most of his chance, posting a 3-1 record.
The 21 year old right hander earned a spot in the rotation in 1981, and picked up right where he left off in the fall. Brilliant is an understatement for how well Rincon was pitching. Nothing in his minor league resume even hinted at this level of performance.
With one shutout already in the books, he was working on his second of the young season on May 9 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, Rincon never would have been pitching in the 8th inning of a 13-0 blowout, but in 1981, starters finished what they started. That would cost Rincon his career when Phil Garner hit a hard line drive off Rincon’s pitching arm. It hit Rincon so hard that the ball deflected to third baseman Julio Gonzalez and he had enough time to throw out Garner at first. Ironically, Gonzalez had just entered the game, replacing Ken Oberkfell.
The ball also hit Rincon so hard that it broke his arm, and badly. He would spend nearly two months on the disabled list before starting a rehab assignment in the minor leagues in late June. Initially, this seemed like good news as Rincon could continue his rehabilitation while the rest of the players were out on a work stoppage, but the young right hander was never able to regain the velocity he once had. He did not return to the team once play resumed in August.
He did make it back into the rotation at the start of the 1982 season, but it was clear after a few starts that he was not the pitcher he once was. His last major league appearance was on May 22.
Even though Rincon did not pitch much for the Cardinals in 1982, he was rewarded with a World Series ring and a $500 bonus. Not a full share like Cosman’s, but he was not forgotten.
Colby Rasmus – 2011
That brings us to Colby Rasmus. His contributions to the 2011 Cardinals far exceed those of Cosman and Rincon. If you believe in WAR as a useful metric, Rasmus earned a 1.1 (+1.8 offensive and -.7 defense) for the Cardinals in 2011. That is significant for a team that won the Wild Card by just a single game.
It is time to turn the page on Rasmus, as we did JD Drew. It no longer matters what Rasmus did while a member of the Cardinals, or what he will or won’t do with his future teams. He did make a big impact while in St. Louis, and the Cardinals would not be in the World Series if not for the combination of his performance and potential. He is not Nyjer Morgan, nor is he Brandon Phillips (who doesn’t really bother me). He was a Cardinal, and a contributor to the success of the 2011 team. It is time for all of the name calling and cheap shots to come to an end.
Perhaps the best way for that to happen is with a huge ovation when Rasmus receives his World Series ring, and for the Cardinals to vote Rasmus a full share of the bonus pool. It is the right thing, and as Jim Cosman reminds us, that’s what the Cardinals do.