If you ask any St. Louis Cardinals fan, they would probably tell you that Colby Rasmus already is a bust. The trade that sent him to Toronto inevitably helped them win the 2011 World Series. Octavio Dotel, Mark Rzepczynski and Edwin Jackson were instrumental down the stretch and into the postseason.
Blue Jays fans are hoping that Rasmus can help return the favour and bring Toronto to the postseason. After two season in which he hit a combined 39 home runs and 118 RBI, he didn’t produce to the same effect in his third season. The Cardinals found that he was expendable after 94 games in 2011, in which he hit just .246 with a .332 OBP.
Blue Jays fans were skeptical at best upon the acquisition, and Rasmus did not do much to change their minds after 35 games that showed him bat a paltry .173 with 39 strikeouts. Rasmus has tons of potential, though, and I think he can be a legitimate threat in the lineup.
Over this past homestand, Rasmus has hit a triple, a home run, driven in a few runs and has a stolen base. Not only are his offensive skills coming around, but he has also made a few highlight reel catches in centre. He has all the tools that can make him a great player, but it’s just a matter of him actually using those tools.
I think most Jays fans would be happy if he hit around .260 with 20 to 25 home runs and 70 to 80 RBI. If he can do that this year, he should be able to produce even more the next year. Cutting down on strikeouts is another area the Blue Jays need to see him improve on.
The Blue Jays have a few young minor league outfielders that are only a year or so from breaking in with the big league club. With Jose Bautista’s spot locked down in right field, there could be as many as five outfielders fighting for two spots in two years. Among those could be Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose.
If after this season Rasmus does not have a good year, the Jays will be looking at promoting one of Gose or Marisnick. They may feel at this point that Rasmus is not an ideal candidate to move over to left field and will then look at other avenues for him.
Rasmus said at the beginning of spring training that he is looking forward to this season more so than his years in St. Louis because he feels more a part of the team. It makes sense as this is a younger club and a team growing together. But after the first couple of games and the losses to the Orioles (and the horrible season by the Maple Leafs), Toronto fans may start to grow impatient.
What they have to realize is that patience is the key. Although they have been hearing this phrase for years now, it rings true now more than ever. The Blue Jays are young and will go through some growing pains. Included in that is Rasmus, and while he should be better this year, there is no guarantee he will be.
If he doesn’t produce this year, I think most fans will not want to see him as the starting centre fielder or left fielder or DH in 2013. I think the Blue Jays should give him at least two full seasons just so he can adjust to the AL pitching and to the AL East. The young Blue Jays will need to discover what it takes to win in this division, and there’s no sense in breaking them apart if they are starting to figure it out.
If by the end of 2013 Rasmus still hasn’t figured it out, then it may be time to send him on his way. I know the end of 2013 may seem like a long time, but in reality it is the same amount of time they are giving those young prospects in the minors before they come up to the big leagues.
General Manager Alex Anthopolus has repeatedly said, “Many players are sent down at least once before they find out what it takes to stay in the big leagues.” Although Rasmus has never been sent back down to the minors since making the Cardinals' Opening Day roster in 2009, he has been trying to adjust since his breakout season.
I give him until the end of 2013. If by then he hasn’t found a way to become a 20-plus home run hitter and consistently drive in runs and bat at a .260 to .280 clip, then he may be time to call Colby Rasmus a bust.
Folllow Matthew on twitter @MatthewSookram