In Baseball America’s 2009 Top 100 Prospects the St Louis Cardinal’s Colby Rasmus was listed as the number 3 prospect in all of baseball. Colby made the team out of spring training in 2009 and ended up having a 2.8 WAR that season according to fangraphs (basically what Brett Lawrie did for the Jays in 2012). He followed that up with a 4.3 WAR season in 2010. Baseball America looked like they were right to have him ranked so high as a prospect.
However in 2011 Colby struggled mightily which was magnified by his bad relationship with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. Like it or not when a team has to pick between a player and an established manager they usually pick the manager so the Cardinals had to trade Rasmus.
Alex Anthopoulos was just in his second season as Toronto Blue Jays GM so he decided to show that dumping Vernon Wells wasn’t a fluke. He put his ninja powers to use and acquired Rasmus for a bunch of relievers and Corey Patterson. A lot of people think the Blue Jays “gave up” Edwin Jackson but they really just borrowed him from the White Sox in exchange for 2 relievers Jason Frasor and Zack Stewart (who was a starting pitching prospect at the time). Every national baseball media said it was a huge steal for the Jays and that the Cardinals were crazy for trading a potential star for such a short team gain.
It hasn’t worked out that way. The Cardinals went on the win the World Series. Rasmus has shown plenty of flashes of star potential with the Blue Jays but at the end of the day his 2012 and 2011 combined WAR is 2.2. Colby’s salary is going to get higher every year before he’s eventually a free agent so he might not be worth keeping after 2013 if this trend continues.
As irrational as it might be after his last 2 seasons I’m betting on Rasmus breaking out in 2013 and I’m sure I’m not the only Jays fan who feels that way.
Fans that still believe in Rasmus tend to also be Jays fans that wanted nothing to do with Adam Lind going into 2012 after 2 bad seasons and they were right. There’s a difference between Lind and Rasmus though.
Lind’s best season in 2009 he put up a 3.7 WAR and hasn’t had a WAR above 1 in any other season. Rasmus had a 2.8 WAR in his first season and a 4.3 WAR in his second season in his early 20’s. Lind had 1 great year in his mid-20’s but didn’t do anything in his early 20’s and hasn’t done anything since 2009.
Rasmus will just be 26 on opening day so it’s not unreasonable to expect a possible breakout year from him, especially when you consider what he did at such a young age and not that long ago. It would be a big boost to the Jays and would give them one less thing to worry about next offseason.