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Time for LaRussa to go

September 6, 2010

It seems the only thing missing from the Cardinals clubhouse is Michael Buffer, set to introduce Tony LaRussa and Colby Rasmus in an MMA match with the winner getting his choice whether he wants to leave or stay in the Lou.

Rasmus and LaRussa’s relationship has seen its fair share of bumps and bruises, starting with Colby’s dad lambasting the organziation on an internet message board after spring training in 2008, as well as LaRussa not liking Colby taking hitting lessons from his dad earlier in the summer – even though Rasmus went on a tear directly following the hitting lessons.

As reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch Sunday, Rasmus apparently has asked to be traded each of the last two seasons. This really comes as no surprise to me. Rasmus is easily the Cardinals third-best hitter, and each of the last two seasons he’s had to endure time shares with much less talented players, like Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel, Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha.

Star slugger Albert Pujols spoke to the media on Sunday, stating, “If he doesn’t want to be here next year, we need to figure out a way to get him out of here and find somebody that wants to be here and play.”

Albert sided with LaRussa in his comments on Sunday, and in my opinion, handled the situation entirely wrong. He should’ve spoke to Colby in private and not taken him to the woodshed in public.

I think Rasmus requested to be traded because he wants to play. He wants to play for a manager who sees his talent and uses it 100 percent for the team’s advantage. LaRussa doesn’t do this, and instead thinks that playing Nick Stavinoha against lefties will help the team. It doesn’t.

LaRussa tells the media that Colby needs to focus on becoming a more complete player. Well, Tony, Colby can’t do that if he’s not in the lineup everyday. I could understand sitting him against some lefties if you had a reliable option off the bench who could actually contribute to the team. But when your best options are Stavinoha, Craig or good ol’ Randy Winn, that’s not the case.

Colby wants to play and get better, but with LaRussa around, I doubt he’ll ever get to do that. What else does Rasmus need to do to warrant playing every day over the scrubs on the Cardinals roster? Before the All-Star break Rasmus was batting .284 with a .369 OBP and a .914 OPS. Apparently LaRussa thinks that’s not good enough to be  an every-day starter.

By taking LaRussa’s side Pujols highlighted the exact problem that Colby faces:  “He needs to find out the talent and ability that he has and pretty much keep his mouth shut and play the game.” Albert, Colby is trying to keep his mouth shut and play the game, but if you were getting benched twice a week for Nick Stavinoha or Allen Craig at first, I’d think you’d open your mouth and speak your mind. Rasmus isn’t able to “find out the talent and ability that he has” if he’s not playing every day, batting against lefties as well as righties.

LaRussa’s contract is up at the end of the year, while Rasmus is under team control until 2014. In what could be John Mozeliak and the rest of the front office’s smartest move, they can decide not to bring back Tony and probably keep Rasmus for at least the next four seasons.

Or they could trade one of the brightest young stars in the game  for probably just one more year of the manager who thinks he can win by trading away one of his most complete players (Ludwick) and starting guys like Aaron Miles, Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha.

If the Cardinals decide to trade Rasmus and keep LaRussa it could possibly be the worst decision in the organization’s history. I mean that in all seriousness.

Oh, and Albert, if the Cardinals are such a great organization to play for (“If you don’t want to be part of this great organization, man, this is one of the special organizations you want to play for. And if you don’t want to be a part of this, then you know what? You need to figure out a place to go and play.”) then, please, go ahead and take a hometown discount and sign this offseason. Please.

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