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Monday, July 25, 2011 / 9:08 AM

Trading Colby Rasmus, Betting Against the Future

Trading Colby Rasmus, Betting Against the Future

Photograph by By Keith Allison on Flickr

You remember Colby Rasmus—he's the one who used to stand in between Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and hit home runs for not very much money at all. But that was years and years ago. Now, in the grand tradition of St. Louis underrating its strikeout-prone, dour-looking center fielders, he is the guy on the bench to be traded, demands a certain vocal section of the Cardinals' fanbase, for whatever.

I'm not opposed to trading Rasmus under any circumstance. Jon Jay looks like a young, average center fielder, and the Cardinals have a number of more pressing problems they could deal with from that apparent depth. (Of course, they also have Lance Berkman playing every day in right field.)

The problem isn't trading Rasmus because of how great he is—it's trading Rasmus now, and the kind of player the Cardinals would almost necessarily get in return. You see, any player acquired for Colby Rasmus at this juncture cannot be as good as Colby Rasmus at his best.

Rasmus is inconsistent, inasmuch as he was one of the best-hitting center fielders in Major League Baseball in 2010 and is not that in 2011; as represented in the Cardinals fandom he sits at one end of the talented to consistent continuum.

And unless the Cardinals want to go even further along the Rasmus side of that spectrum,  which would be difficult and not especially popular with those vocal fans, anyway, they'd be getting in return a player who is good in 2011 and was good in 2010 but is not capable of being the best center fielder in the National League.

It's a major bet on this year's team, paid for on credit from next year's. This year Jay has been better than Rasmus and Berkman has been outstanding, and one thing teams have historically attempted to do with hands this hot has been to try to ride the hot hands as far as they'll go. But trade Colby Rasmus for a player who better compliments this year's heroes and you may find that you've just traded next year's likeliest hero.

Me, I plan on rooting for them in 2012, too.

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