St. Louis Cardinals: What Are They Missing?

Joel KochSenior Analyst IAugust 3, 2008

You can make the argument that the St. Louis Cardinals are missing a left handed reliever. You can also make the argument that they are missing an impact bat to put behind Albert Pujols. Maybe they are even missing a starting pitcher.

Well, if you made any one of those arguments or a mixture of two or more, you would be correct; however, you're wrong at the same time.

The Cardinals are missing spunk.

Yes, Aaron Miles and his playboy attitude and Brendan Ryan and his impressions can really uplift a down clubhouse. That's not the spunk I mean. I'm talking about the spunk that comes from a new addition, an addition that isn't expected.

That's right; I'm talking about none other than Mr. Colby Rasmus.

Rasmus is injured right now, but that doesn't even matter for this discussion. As soon as he's healthy and has spent a full week at Memphis, working on getting back to game shape, he needs to have his contract purchased.

Joe Mather has done a nice job filling in for Rick Ankiel and his hurtin' tummy. Mather is a fourth outfielder, and nothing more. Rasmus is the future face of this franchise.

Where to play Rasmus, you ask? Well, that's simple. He needs to start everyday in left field. No offense to my "homeboy" Skip Schumaker (who has done an amazing job), but Rasmus needs to be in there every day, sparking this team.

You know how they say "a shot in the arm can uplift any team"? Well, the front office expects that shot in the arm to be Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Yes, they are the No. 1 and No. 2 in this rotation, but they only play every fifth day. Then, they are just another person who sits and talks to everyone for four days.

A hungry wolf always leads the pack.

A batter will spark an offense on a nightly basis, leading the team day in and day out. With Rasmus in the outfield on a nightly basis, this team's sluggish offense could be as good as they were in Atlanta every day.

All of this really goes back to Tony La Russa and his saying that the Cardinals were good at the start of the year because they were "fighting for playing time." Now, everyone is set into their roles.

Ankiel, Troy Glaus, and Pujols were in the lineup every day. Ankiel is a money player, so La Russa never wanted to sit him. Plus, he's a left handed bat with power, always a bonus. Glaus and Pujols are being paid to play every day and contribute on a nightly basis. No need to sit them.

Then you had three guys fighting for playing time in the middle infield, and four guys fighting for playing time in the corner outfield spots. They were trying to one up each other to earn their jobs every night.

For the most part, it worked. Schumaker has established himself as a quality leadoff bat (who, for some reason, cannot hit a left handed pitcher). Ryan Ludwick became an All-Star and a key cog in this Cardinal offense.

Then there is the Cardinals' middle infield, where no one has made themselves the pack leader. Miles has done a quality job at short and second, but is a bench player by trade. Brendan Ryan, Cesar Izturis, and Adam Kennedy have had their streaks come and go.

What am I getting at? La Russa has thrown a big chunk of meat in the middle of the ring, and everyone is waiting for someone else to make the move before they jump them.

That kind of team just can't work. Every wolf (player) needs to be tearing off a piece of that meat, while fighting and biting each other.

This is where Rasmus comes in.

Rasmus was crushed that he didn't make the team out of spring. His stats showed it, as did his body language. Then, suddenly, everything turned around in a .300+ June. Now, Rasmus is out with a sprained knee and he wants a taste of the action more than ever.

He feels he has something to prove and he should be thrown into that ring and fight with every other wolf in there to show he's the true top dog.

The Cardinals need to let him show his status. He needs to be up at the big league level to showcase his talent. Let him show that promise and potential isn't going to be wasted.

Maybe that will be the shot in the arm the Cardinals really need.