When Colby Rasmus came over from the St Louis Cardinals in 2011 it was with mixed reviews. We had heard how Tony LaRussa had run him out of town because he was uncoachable. We had heard how Colby’s dad, Tony was too involved with his son’s career. But, more importantly, we had heard of potential that was yet to be realized. Colby came to the Blue Jays with what GM, Alex Anthopoulos, called a “high ceiling”. He was a young(ish) center feilder who could hit for power and go get it in the outfield. In his 3+ years with the Blue Jays, we’ve seen all of the above: moon shot home runs, GREAT defense and an inability to listen to coaches’ advice. It is the latter (combined with the strike outs) that probably spelled the end for Colby.
Colby started 2014 fresh off a rather successful 2013 where he hit for a .276 average with 22 home runs and 66 RBIs. If you choose carefully, Rasmus’ 2014 offensive numbers are also tantalizing: 18 HR, 21 doubles, .448 SLG. He hit his 100th HR in April. There is no questioning the pop in his bat. He can hit moon shots with the best of them:
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The power that Colby brings to the table is enough to tantalize any team looking for an outfielder. He’ll have no trouble picking up a job this winter. It may not be what he had hoped for, but he’ll land somewhere. Despite his raw power, one would have to think that the highlight of Rasmus’ tenure with the Blue Jays is his defense. In 2013, Colby won the Blue Jays’ Wilson Defensive Player of the Year. Many were hopeful for a similar result in 2014. And, on the surface, he delivered. Out of 148 total plays made, 48 were outside of his zone. His D certainly passed the eye test. It was a tad difficult to choose which clips to include that show the type of defense that Colby brings; there are so many. But check this out:
Colby missed a month of the season with a wonky hamstring. 2014 saw him in the fewest amount of games in his career. Now, some of that has to do with his benching (more in a second), but injuries do come with having Rasmus around. Also, despite the flashy plays above, Colby’s defense doesn’t really pass the test when you actually look at it. He managed a UZR of -9.1 and a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved Above Avg) is -7. None of this is even the “bad” when talking about Colby Rasmus.
His .225 average isn’t the worst part, either. The most frustrating aspect of Colby’s game has to be the strikeouts. In 104 games Colby struck out 124 times. And, pitchers know it. In 2014, Colby saw a really low 40% of pitches in the strike zone. Combine that with the fact that he swung at 33% of pitches outside the zone, you have a recipe for disaster.
See what I mean:
Of note in that video is that it was Colby’s 4th strike out in that game. But, his ability to hit the breaking ball has been his Achilles Heal and the source of our frustration for 3+ years.
Probably what sealed Colby’s demise was his inability to respond to coaching. He came out and said that he has tried, but he wasn’t comfortable with the suggestions he was being given to adjust his swing. When you state that publicly, coaches get offended. So, his apparent attitude toward coaching and his production led to him being lifted for the likes of Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar and eventually Dalton Pompey. Throughout his tenure in Toronto, Colby has never been able to find the right stance at the plate. Ian Hunter (Blue Jay Hunter) broke down the many incarnations of stances and the adjustments he’s made throughout his career. Colby has tried to find something that works for him. And, everyone, including his dad, Tony, has been getting inside his head.
Colby Rasmus missed a month of the 2014 season due to injury and almost a month more to make way for the young guys. The Blue Jays came in to this season facing a decision. Colby is set to become a free agent. The Blue Jays could make him a qualifying offer of $15.3M. Considering his production and the apparent ‘falling out’, that won’t happen. The club would not want to risk him accepting (which he’d have to do because he’ll never get that on the open market) in order to get the draft pick attached. They could have worked out a contract extension mid season to avoid that, but they chose the ever familiar “wait and see” approach.
They have options in Gose, Pillar and possibly even Pompey. So, Colby will be looking for a deal as a free agent for the first time in his career. Now, the Blue Jays could very well enter the conversation with Rasmus as his value has surely been diminished (which they had a hand in). They could bring him back on a MUCH cheaper deal than the $15.3M. But, given the relative depth at that position, they will not rush into it. Having said that, the other 29 teams will also have the opportunity to sign Colby. Most likely, he’ll sign a one year, “value building” contract and test his luck a year from now.