Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
"“The adjustments he made a year ago seem to have stuck with him over the winter and Rasmus looks to be in a good position to build on a break-out season that saw him slash .276/.338/.501 with 22 home runs and 66 RBI.”"
If this is in fact true, fans of the Toronto Blue jays can expect a special season from our center fielder (CF) Rasmus. With Alex Anthopoulos (AA) getting so much flack this off-season for not ‘getting it done’ by landing a big fish in free agency or by making a big trade, I thought it a good idea to revisit the July 2011 trade that got us this potentially ‘elite’ CF.
Back at the time, Toronto was having another poor season and the organization found themselves looking towards the future. The St. Louis Cardinals were having yet another good season and were looking to make a charge for the playoffs by adding an impact starter and/or bullpen arms. AA started the process by acquiring Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart. As you might recall, Edwin Jackson wasn’t a Blue Jay very long and was shipped to St. Louis in a package that also included: Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Corey Patterson. Toronto received Colby Rasmus, P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet, and Trevor Miller.
Of all the players involved in that trade, Rasmus is the only one who has not changed teams. That alone (in my eyes) makes this a good trade for Toronto. Many fans were upset about losing a pitching prospect, ranked third in our system that year, a reliable RP, and young lefty RP. Many fans also felt AA should have held onto Edwin Jackson, a power arm and someone that could have helped the Jays starting rotation. However AA was having that, as he was looking to buy low on a young, cheap, controllable, athletic, highly regarded outfielder.
Let us take a quick look at the players Toronto gave up, from our system, and where they are now:
Zach Stewart: He’s back with Chicago after playing 2012 in the Boston Red Sox organization. Zach has a mid-90’s fastball and a solid slider. I was never sold on Stewart as a starter; he never had a defined role while pitching for Texas Tech or during his time in the Cincinnati Reds system. At 27, there’s a chance he could still find success as a major league pitcher, but it hasn’t happened yet. He has a 3-10 record in 33 appearances (14 starts) and is the owner of a 6.82 ERA. Stewart is in the mix for a spot in the White Sox rotation this season.
Jason Frasor: Re-signed with the Texas Rangers this past off-season. Frasor has been such a reliable middle reliever over his career, but has never been able to land that multi-year contract. He spent nine seasons with Toronto and appeared in 505 games, which is a Blue Jays’ record for most games pitched. Texas will be expecting another solid season from Frasor, and I don’t expect him to let them down. For his career, Jason has some pretty good numbers.
Octavio Dotel: As 40-year-old old free-agent, Dotel remains on the open market after a poor 2013 season. Although he has yet to announce his retirement, this writer thinks that it is forthcoming; however, it is a possibility that Dotel could provide value to a major league club. Dotel played an integral role for the Cardinals as he appeared in 29 games after the trade, but more importantly Dotel gave Tony La Russa 12 quality relief appearance in the 2011 playoffs. Dotel signed with the Detroit Tigers and continued to be a quality reliever in both the regular season and the post-season. In 2012, Dotel appeared in 6 post-season games and finished with a 0.00 ERA… impressive.
Corey Patterson: Patterson didn’t provide that 2011 Cardinals’ team with any value and has not appeared in a major league game since. Patterson will provide the New York Yankees with minor outfield depth in 2014.
Marc ‘Scrabble’ Rzepczynski: Marc provided La Russa with a quality lefty for the Cardinals playoff push in 2011. Scrabble would go on to make 19 playoff appearances for the Cards in 2011 and 2012. In the 2011 Word Series alone, Rzepcynski made four appearances and kept a tidy ERA of 0.00 by not allowing any earned runs. Scrabble put up another decent season in 2012 but struggled with St. Louis to start 2013 and was shipped off to Cleveland, where he was able to turn things around. Marc will be Terry Francona’s lefty specialist in 2014.
Edwin Jackson: I wasn’t sure if I should include Jackson in my overview, but after looking at his number since Alex flipped him for Rasmus I decided I would. After arriving in St. Louis, Jackson provided the Cards exactly what they were looking for, going 5-2 with 3.58 ERA in the regular season. Jackson also made four post-season starts in 2011, going 1-1 with an ERA north of six. He is now a member of the Chicago Cubs and signed a four-year deal worth $52 million in January 2011.
Trever Miller and Brian Tallet are retired. P.J. Walters made 20 starts with the Minnesota Twins between 2012 and 2013 and signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals. Mark Teahen has bounced around since leaving Toronto and is currently a member of the San Francisco Giants organization.
There were a lot of moving parts in the July 2011 trade that ultimately landed the Toronto Blue Jays Colby Rasmus. Many St. Louis fans felt (or still feel) that Toronto didn’t pay enough for a player with All-Star potential. Rasmus did have some problems during his time in St. Louis, which allowed AA to buy low. I should also note, at least publicly the Blue Jays have had no such problems with Colby since his arrival. Sure he’s had his struggles on the field at times, sure he doesn’t have that magnifying personality that endures him to a fan base, and sure he has possibly the worst facial hair this writer has ever seen, but he does have the talent to become an All-Star.
If I were a major league GM, I would always want to deal with AA. The Vernon Wells trade aside, AA seems complete trades that benefit both teams. The Rasmus trade is no exception. Even if Toronto is able to sign Colby to an extension or even a long-term deal, in my opinion St. Louis won this deal. That is not to say that Toronto lost the deal, after all we got an extremely talented outfielder with loads of potential. Toronto wasn’t going to make the playoffs in 2011 and AA was able to solidify a premium talent at a premium position. Hopefully sometime in the near future Toronto will be able to hang another pennant in the outfield with Rasmus still a part of the team. At that time, we will revisit this trade again.
Players come and go, but World Series pennants are forever.