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Prelude to a trade? Tony La Russa says Colby Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to Cardinals coaches

Jul 27, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

Colby Rasmus, Tony La Russa AP

UPDATE: TLR got his wish, as Rasmus has been traded to the Blue Jays.


At this point the feud between manager Tony La Russa and center fielder Colby Rasmus is no secret, with various details being reported since last year and Rasmus having the benchings to show for it.

However, yesterday it may have gone to another level as La Russa said during a local television interview that Rasmus “doesn’t listen” to the Cardinals’ coaching staff:

No, he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks, in my opinion. If he would just stay with what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he’s got to be confused.

La Russa added that Rasmus “is listening to somebody,” which is presumably aimed at his outspoken father, Tony Rasmus, who has been a frequent interview subject for St. Louis media members and even shows up in the HardballTalk comments section from time to time.

Rasmus reportedly requested a trade last season and rumors of his departure have gotten stronger and stronger this month, leading many people to believe he won’t be in St. Louis past Sunday’s deadline.

Rasmus’ production is down this season, with his batting average dropping from .276 to .246 and his OPS falling from .859 to .753. Of course, even a .753 OPS ranks 12th among the 29 center fielders with at least 250 plate appearances and at 24 years old Rasmus is the youngest guy in the top 20. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak’s phone should be ringing off the hook.

  1. JBerardi - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    The Cardinals are about to lose a trade, badly.

    • tophermike - Jul 27, 2011 at 1:44 PM

      you called that one

  2. proudlycanadian - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    Does this guy have any trade value given the baggage that comes with him? Over to you Tony!

  3. paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    What possible benefit could there be to makes such public statements? None.

    It would be nice if both Tonys (LaRussa and Rasmus) would just STFU. Your public comments are not helping anything. Each guy has such a great ego-driven need for people to think they are correct that they can’t just shut up when they need to.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      LaRussa has to paint him as a cancer and a headache so the fans don’t revolt over the insanely stupid trade they’re about to make.

  4. Jonny 5 - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Tony LaRussa being his egotistical self. As if it’s more important to get “his side” out in the news than it is to get the best deal in a trade possible. Because stuff like that isn’t going to help pull in stronger offers, that’s for sure.

    • paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      This is exactly correct, and very typical of LaRussa. He is a “my way or the highway” manager that would rather lose doing it his way than win doing it some other way. I can see the argument that, if you are going to lose, you would rather do it making the decisions that you are comfortable with….but in many cases, he is just being stubborn and selfish…as in this case. LaRussa also can not handle any form of public criticism, which is why he always makes sure to provide the press with the necessary tidbits to put LaRussa in a positive light.

      • shea801 - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        Yes, I can’t imagine why a Manager would want it his way or the highway; or why a coach wouldn’t ask his player’s how things should be ran. It’s insanity! Obviously he’s an egomaniac who shouldn’t be coaching.

        /end sarcasm

      • paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        LaRussa over-steps. For example, if a player is successful with his approach at the plate, a manager should be happy for the success. LaRussa isn’t. He’ll be on the player to make changes to play the game how Tony thinks he should play it, regardless of his success the way he has always done things. He has done this to Rasmus since he first came up. Every player (hitter or pitcher) can not be successful using the same approach.

        FWIW, Duncan has retarded the development of some pitching prospects and possibly ruined some of them by insisting that everyone in the system throw a 2-seamer when some have never thrown one and been successful throwing the 4-seamer. This eventually led to strife among the baseball people because minor league instructors wanted to build on what pitcher already did well, not change everything to suit what Duncan wanted.

  5. dodger88 - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    I’d say both parties are to blame for what is fast becoming a situation that can’t be saved. I agree with the earlier comment that the Cards are about to lose a trade but at the same time if Rasmus gets his change of scenery he should expect a short honeymoon period. If he struggles or appears to be a headache for his new team he may not get a good third chance.

    • paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:09 PM

      Rasmus may be to blame if LaRussa’s comments are accurate and he doesn’t listen to the coaches….but all of the things you ever hear or read are from LaRussa, not from Colby. If, and it is an if because no one ever confirmed it, Rasmus requested a trade, the only possible source for that would be LaRussa. Mo wouldn’t leak it and neither would Colby.

      LaRussa is a petty, selfish, egotistical man. He regularly puts his wishes (especially as applied to his biased treatment of players) before the team performance, and it is frustrating to endure.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        No one who has won as many games as LaRussa puts anything before team performance. LaRussa doesn’t pitch, hit or field, but the players do. He’s gotten enough out of them to be one of the top managers of all time.

        If you don’t like him, and since you seem to be a close personal friend, that’s fair enough. But making ridiculous statements that he doesn’t care about the perfromance of his team just flies in the face of reality. Close to 3000 wins says a lot about team performance.

      • paperlions - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM

        LaRussa has the 3rd most wins and the 3rd most losses in MLB history. He has won with good players and lost with bad ones…..just like every other manager. He has simply been blessed with a lot of talented rosters and started managing at a young age. There is no evidence that he gets more out of players than anyone else could….in contrast, there is evidence that Dave Duncan can (at times) do so.

  6. heyblueyoustink - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Is LaRussa channelling his inner Capone via Robert Deniro? ” Teamwork”

    • Old Gator - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      Yeah, if Tony Rasmus were sitting at the same table….

  7. cintiphil - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    As much as I would like this problem to affect the birds performance, they seem to be doing OK. The Reds are falling apart. If Rasmus hangs around, then it will be bad news for the birds eventually, but they will probably trade him. they just won’t be able to get too much. Who would want this bozo on their team, with the old man interfering as he does? He had better be careful, or he will wind up in Seattle or KC, with no hope of getting anywhere soon. No chance he will be going to Atlanta or Houston, where he can compete with the birds.

  8. hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    LaRussa attended Glenn Becks Rally, so I don’t believe his “he doesn’t listen” comment has much credibility. Either Tony “doesn’t listen” to Glenn, or he agrees with a racist, fear mongering liar.

    • cintiphil - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      Learn something about baseball before speaking, or save your comments for the political section!

      • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        What does commenting on LaRussa’s personal views have to do with me not knowing anything about baseball. LaRussa flew to another city, purchased a hotel room, and publicly appeared beside a man who previously claimed “Obama has a deep seeded hatred of white people”. More recently, he has claimed the murdered victims of a terrorist to be “Hitler Youth”. The man invokes Nazi and Hitler at every opportunity. Someone needs to be a really, really horrible person, or group to draw these comparisons from a sane person.

        Marge Schott should always be remembered for what she said, and LaRussa should always be remembered for who his buddies are in the offseason.

      • spudchukar - Jul 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        In fairness Hitt, both Pujols and LaRussa issued statements stating that their appearance in no way was an endorsement of the politics of Beck et al. They did share a stage which was embarrassing and troublesome but neither have ever espoused opinions that align themselves with thinking of Beck and his crowd.

      • hittfamily - Jul 27, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        Why else attend it then? They issued the statements to douse the flames. Were they both just in the neighborhood? This isn’t a politics thing. I could care less if they ate breakfast with Bill O’reilly everyday. If Evan Longoria goes and marches with the Westboro Baptist Church, but issues a statement saying in no way does he agree with them, it would mean squat to me.

        They attended a Rally financially backed by an evil, evil man.

    • skids003 - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      Might not hurt to learn something about politics too.

      • bigdicktater - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        Yo skids, in case you missed it your boy Beck compared the murdered children in Norway to “Hitler Youth”. Stop drinking Glenn’s koolaid and think for yourself.

    • wtfrontdoor - Jul 28, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      hittfamily you’re the idiot!

      As a matter of fact, the Cards WERE just “in the neighborhood” when TLR/Albert appeared on stage at Beck’s rally. I live in DC. They were in town playing the Nats.

  9. seanmk - Jul 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    blue jays

  10. ThatGuy - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Hope Colby and Tony are ready for Canada… Better buy himself a new Tuque, because its going to be cold come September…

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM


      • Old Gator - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        They don’t know about beaver envelopment.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        In September, I would rather be in Toronto than Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detriot. By the way, the roof comes in handy in April and October.

      • spudchukar - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM

        Bautista manning 3B for the Redbirds will be a welcome addition.

      • uwsptke - Jul 27, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        “In September, I would rather be in Toronto than Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detriot. By the way, the roof comes in handy in April and October.”

        You realize that Milwaukee has a retractable roof, right?

  11. 18thstreet - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Even if LaRussa is right, I don’t understand why he takes these arguments public.

    • spudchukar - Jul 27, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      To give his GM cover.

  12. spudchukar - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    So far this trade appears to be awful, but the details are not in, so I for one will wait until the deal is final. As for LaRussa, I take a different tack. PL, has his side, here is mine. LaRussa only cares about one thing, winning. He could care less what other people think of him. He covers the ass of his players constantly. The vast majority of players who play for him love him. He is a no nonsense guy. Not an extraordinarily strict off the field type, but come to work on time and ready to compete at one’s highest level. Perhaps to a fault, he condemns mental errors, lack of concentration, and lack of effort. To my knowledge over the past ten years 3 players have been in his doghouse that I recall, there may be others but they do not come to mind.

    First, Scott Rolen. Rolen can be difficult. Moody, introverted, and at times dishonest. Most players are on his side, but not all. His unwillingness to be truthful about his physical condition led to the discord between Rolen and LaRussa, and because it persisted, it festered their relationship and eventually Rolen was moved.

    Brendan Ryan, was LaRussa lauded in the early going and he gave him the playing time that showed what he could do. But his free spirit ways, and run-ins with other players, often more of the good-natured type eventually got him branded as a problem, often times unmerited in my opinion, and he was dealt, more at the demand of players than his manager.

    Finally Rasmus. The much heralded cannot miss center fielder was offered a chance to play after one successful year in the minors and many mediocre ones. A LaRussa, and Cards Fans’ favorite Rick Ankiel shared playing time. Perhaps, Rasmus was held back a little by Ankiel’s presence, but soon the Cards sent Ankiel packing, so Rasmus wouldn’t have the additional pressure of competing, which he seemed to have trouble with. His 2010 season showed promise. Way too many strikeouts, mental mistakes, and poor decisions, but with his age and talent some of those could be overlooked.

    He had other issues, of the non-baseball type that hindered his development. His poor eating habits, caused an epiglottal syndrome that developed into a type of malnutrition and fatigue. He became a father, out of wedlock, and his father disowned him, further complicating his life. After reconciliation, it surfaced that he preferred the hitting advice of his father over the Cardinals. Part of the reason Hal McCrae was let go was due to communication problems, particularly with Rasmus. But the easy-going and hugely popular and player supported McGwire, still was unable to connect. So the Cards added Mike Aldrete in hopes that maybe he might succeed where others had not. At the beginning of the year things looked promising, as Rasmus started well, cutting down on strikeouts, and accumulating walks. But his play in the field regressed. Poor decision-making, which seemed to arise due to fear of making a mistake, escalated. Soon the play of Jon Jay, as a replacement for either the injured Matt Holliday, or Lance Berkman gained attention. As Rasmus slumped, Jay excelled, particularly defensively, and it became apparent to many that the Cards were more likely to win with Jay starting in centerfield.

    LaRussa had taken a different approach in 2011 regarding Rasmus, as the supportive, understanding guardian rather than critic, hoping the support would help the fragile psyche of his centerfielder, but as his play worsened, shared playing time, developed into mostly benching recently. It is patently unfair to accuse LaRussa of “running Rasmus out of St. Louis”. I believe he was overly patient, but the sporatic awesome talent that Rasmus could display will always keep managers biting. It certainly sounds as if he is out the door, hopefully for more than has been reported, but if not I offer these parting words. Good Luck, and Good Riddance.

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