I’m not certain if Colby Rasmus had a run in with Andy Van Slyke’s son A.J. in the minors or if Rasmus forked Van Slyke’s yard. In any event, Van Slyke has made it a point, yet again, to trash Colby Rasmus in the media with some specious arguments. Don’t forget, we’ve been here before when Van Slyke misportrayed a series of things related to the junior Rasmus.
The first thing I have to take issue with is Hummel’s characterization of Van Slyke’s career. Van Slyke was a quality player in the majors but we need to be realistic about what he was relative to others. To wit:
What set Van Slyke apart from the others was his defensive excellence, but the three players [Ray Lankford, Andy Van Slyke, J.D. Drew) roughly have had the same offensive careers.
Let’s start with the latter half of that statement because Hummel is making a big assertion that he asks you to accept at face value. Did Lankford, Drew & Van Slyke have roughly the same offensive careers? Not really, unless you mean very roughly. Van Slyke was the worst hitter of the three posting a career .355 wOBA. That is still above average and by no means poor but it’s also clearly the worst performance of the three individuals. Lankford comes next with a career .366 wOBA and Drew is in first with a career .378 wOBA.
A .378 wOBA is 2010 Adrian Gonzalez compared to a .355 wOBA, which is the 2010 version of Alfonso Soriano. That’s a whopping 15 run difference over the full course of a season. So in a single season, I don’t think you’d characterize those two wOBA’s as “roughly the same”.
But take it a step further. Van Slyke compiled that .355 over 1658 PAs. Drew has compiled his over 1562 PAs. Even with 100 extra trips to the plate, Van Slyke was worth 88 FEWER runs at the plate (using fangraphs wRC as a comparison). As a rate stat, Van Slyke doesn’t measure up and that holds equally true as a counting stat. Adjusting for league and park, Drew still comes out well ahead of Van Slyke. Again, Van Slyke’s career is nothing to sniff at but let’s give Drew his due. Except that the press didn’t like Drew so, you know, roughly the same offensive career as the player who is a full win worse than him in a given season.
“According to what I read, he’s never been happier (being traded) since he’s been a Cardinal,” Van Slyke said. “How can you be happy being traded from the St Louis Cardinals? It’s the most nonsensical thing I could ever imagine.
Here is where Van Slyke gets down to business. The faux bafflement at how Colby Rasmus who has obvious and public disagreements with his manager could possibly want to be somewhere else. Van Slyke’s pandering to the crowd here as it is very easy to imagine how any employee would want to be somewhere else if they didn’t get along with their boss.
The comparisons of their skill sets may be valid, but Van Slyke, 50 years old now, said he could see no comparison on an emotional level.
He said Rasmus’ apparent happiness at being traded “shows you how totally emotionally different a player he is than I was. He’s going from a potential playoff team to a team that hasn’t won anything in 20 years.
Please ignore those back-to-back world series titles that the Blue Jays won in 1992-1993. Those were more than 20 years ago … er, wait. Van Slyke once again plays loose and dirty with the facts much as when he stated that his son was on a team with Rasmus for three years (untrue). Setting aside Van Slyke’s poor baseball memory, who cares that Rasmus is different emotionally from Van Slyke? This is a bait and switch where Van Slyke relies on the readers positive impression of his baseball career to then connect that in a negative way with Rasmus’s future baseball career since Rasmus is different. Different is not a guarantee to be better or worse especially in the inane context of “emotional levels”.
“If he stays where he is emotionally, he’s going to be the same player he is right how. His whole game is derived from emotion. He doesn’t use his intellectual mind; he uses his emotional mind.
“No wonder he’s never performed the way he should have.
There you go. Since Rasmus sleeps with his teddy bear at night, he’ll never be able to hit a baseball. Please disregard 2010 where Rasmus hit at Ray Lankford levels (aka better than Van Slyke) because Rasmus is supposedly emotionally stunted. This continues along the same bizarre, armchair psychology as other Van Slyke comments and is somewhat baffling. Baseball’s history, indeed it’s hall of fame, is full of literally awful human beings who exhibited alcoholism, drug abuse, racism, bigotry and a myriad of other failings. It’s not that the mental aspect of the game doesn’t matter; it’s that it is impossible for Van Slyke to know that one alleged character flaw is going to hold Rasmus back.
Also, what level does Van Slyke expect him to perform at? Again, apparently we should ignore all the progress and promise Rasmus showed in 2010 and assume that he’s just such an emotional mess that he can’t ever play that well again.
“He and his father think he’s still playing in high school. He continues to throw the ball to the wrong base and not break up double plays. You can’t do those things at the big-league level.
Does Tony Ramus teach players to throw to the wrong base in high school? Do you think Tony Rasmus, who has won quite a few games as an Alabama coach and gotten three of his sons drafted, just shrugs it off when one of his players fails at a fundamental task? I’ve got a lot of issues with Tony Rasmus, who obviously is incapable of keeping his mouth shut, but Van Slyke’s criticism is off base.
More than that though, why should I care if junior Rasmus doesn’t “break up double plays”? If that is his greatest failing, I’m willing to accept that. It’s reminiscent of the argument that Van Slyke made last time about Colby Rasmus being afraid of walls. It is both specious and irrelevant. If Van Slyke wants to criticize Rasmus, he should focus on the fact that Rasmus was hitting poorly or not making enough contact. Things that actually impact his value on the field in a substantial way. Van Slyke chooses to complain about some shrubbery that is burning in the midst of a forest fire.
“It’s up to the Toronto organization to keep him accountable, like Tony (La Russa) and his coaches tried to do.”
The saintly St. Louis coaches who can do no wrong. There’s plenty of blame in this situation. Colby Rasmus has aspects of his game he needs to improve. Tony Rasmus needed to keep his mouth shut. The St. Louis manager needed to find a way to build bridges to the junior Rasmus rather than torching the relationship publicly and often. John Mozeliak needed to do a better job of determining which personnel were important to the team’s long term success.
In all of this though, Andy Van Slyke needs to stop spouting factually incorrect personal attacks at a player he has nothing to do with. Van Slyke’s role in this is nothing more than a drive-by character assassination that exemplifies why Colby Rasmus never felt comfortable in the Cardinals’ organization. You’re not paranoid if they’re actually out to get you.