Re-Evaluating the Rasmus Trade

When Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays acquired center fielder Colby Rasmus for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski just before the Trade Deadline last summer, the blogosphere and Twitterverse were exploding with praise for Toronto.

Anthopoulos parted with relatively little to acquire a young center fielder who was worth 4.3 WAR in the previous season at only 24 years old. His .366 wOBA was the third best in baseball by a center fielder, which was only bested by Josh Hamilton and Carlos Gonzalez. Rasmus also had three-and-a-half years remaining under team control, which only augmented his value as a baseball asset.

The trade was an unequivocal win for our amiable neighbors north of the border. Toronto’s stat-friendly, new-age general manager hoodwinked his backward counterpart in St. Louis, and frankly, it wasn’t even close.

At least, that was what was supposed to happen.

Instead, Tim Tebow himself shone down on the St. Louis Cardinals and led them to an improbable World Series title. The players acquired in the Rasmus trade performed quite well for the Red Birds. Edwin Jackson threw 78 solid innings and even started four games for the Cardinals during the postseason. Octavio Dotel posted an impressive 1.57 FIP after joining St. Louis. Even the forgettable Marc Rzepczynski handcuffed lefties on his way to a 2.72 FIP.

Rasmus, on the other hand, defied expectations and struggled to a .173/.201/.316 triple-slash line after joining the Blue Jays. He ended the season with a .302 wOBA, which ranked second-worst in all of baseball — second to only Alex Rios — and was largely dragged down by his putrid, post-trade .225 wOBA.

Just over two months of performance does not define a trade, though. Rasmus potentially has at least three years remaining with the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals lost Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to free agency, leaving them with only a situational lefty to show for their former top prospect.

In addition, Toronto should expect Rasmus to enjoy a bounceback season in 2012. Although he was certainly dreadful after being acquired in late July, the center fielder fell victim to a .217 BABIP in his 35 games with the Blue Jays. His 10.9% line-drive percentage and 20% infield fly-ball percentage should caution us from believing his BABIP should automatically normalize back to .300 in 2012, but logic suggests that he will return to his career .298 BABIP and career 18.5% line-drive percentage.

It is possible that a transition to the AL East really treated Rasmus poorly. Perhaps he will continue to swing-and-miss more often than he had earlier in his career, and perhaps he will continue to chase more pitches outside the strike zone. It is far more likely, however, that his first two months in Toronto were simply a blip on the radar screen and will normalize next season.

Blue Jays fans likely feel a bit cheated after digesting much of the post-trade hype surrounding Rasmus. They should feel some vindication, though, after he bounces back closer to the 2010 version of Colby Rasmus, rather than the 2011 version that wasn’t even worth a single win throughout the entire year.




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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).


103 Responses to “Re-Evaluating the Rasmus Trade”

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  1. whonichol says:

    The Blue Jays should sign him to a long term contract right this very minute. There probably won’t ever be a better time.

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    • Pat says:

      Alex Rios part 2, no thanks. He is far from a sure thing.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Alex Rios signed his extension coming off an .852 OPS season in 2007 and a .865 OPS in 2006. Vernon Wells signed his extension coming off an .899 OPS season in 2006, and a combined .837 OPS in 2003-2005. In both those cases, Toronto paid a lot of money to lock them up because they were coming off big seasons and had enough success that they were considered “sure things.”

        Whonichol’s point is that Rasmus’ value is lower than its ever been. In other words, they should buy low. If he signed now, it would be for cheap and there wouldn’t be a ton of risk. The problem is that he’d be extremely unlikely to sign an extension right now.

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    • siggian says:

      No, I’d wait unless you get very favourable terms. The thing is that the Jays have his potential replacement in Anthony Gose, who may only be a season away. There’s a sportsnet.ca article that mentions that Gose was deliberately instructed to swing hard in two strike counts to ensure that his new batting stroke was set. For 2012, he will be allowed to make more defensive swings in these situations.

      So, I’d wait until at least mid-season to see how Gose and Rasmus are doing. If both are doing well, Rasmus becomes a very valuable offering as part of a trade. If Gose struggles, Rasmus will continue with the Jays indefinitely. If Rasmus struggles continue, then he probably isn’t part of the solution anyway and you wouldn’t want to commit yourself to him with a long contract.

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    • Brian says:

      It would be best to sign Rasmus to a contract extension now, as opposed to later, when he has a bounce back season. Ideally, the contract would come cheap.

      Not a bad idea.

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  2. Rui says:

    First of all, thanks for taking time out to write this article. Fangraphs is awesome.

    Secondly, I think this article is a bit lazy and misses some big points. You could have very easily included WAR contributions from Jackson, Dotel, and Scrabble, in addition to noting that the Cardinals’ replacement for Rasmus, Jon Jay, was worth 2.8 WAR last year. Then you could have noted where we were on the marginal win curve, and noted the increased playoff probability.

    Also, we received/will receive two supplemental draft picks for Jackson and Dotel, as well as an undisclosed amount of cash, which went unsaid in the article

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    • Anon says:

      Also ignored are the relievers St. Louis sent to Toronto. Miller, Tallet, and Walters were horrible for the Cards; addition by subtraction.

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      • stan says:

        The addition of those guys kept the trade salary-neutral too. After the cash considerations St. Louis came out ahead in salary.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      The tone of the article suggests that yeah StL may have gotten really lucky and won the trade in 2011, but TOR will still eventually win this deal and the initial over-the-top analysis will still be accurate, kind of, sort of.

      But that won’t account for StL not having a chance at the 2011 title without the Rasmus trade.

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      • Anon says:

        StL may have gotten really lucky and won the trade in 2011, but TOR will still eventually win this deal

        It was a win now trade for the Cardinals. St. Louis got the better of the trade early, and Toronto should be expected to get the better in the long term.

        This is a simple concept that is going as expected so far.

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      • Husker says:

        Your post made exactly the same point that I was going to make.
        St. Louis did “win” the trade, no matter what any of these players do in the future. Since they only made the playoffs in the last game of the season, they might not have made it if they had done anything differently; and, since they won the World Series, they could not have done better.
        I tend to agree, though, that Rasmus is likely to produce more WAR or whatever in the long run than what St. Louis got. So perhaps Toronto “won” also.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        If TOR doesn’t get more WAR out of Rasmus than StL got out of EJ, OD, and MR for 2 months, then something is wrong. He could be downright crappy for the next 3 or so years and still get more “WAR”.

        However, if we’re looking at Jon jay + Allen Craig in the lineup versus the value that Rasmus was providing over the next 3 years, then TOR might not even win that part of the trade.

        Jon jay would probably have been in RF had Rasmus stayed in CF. So, we can scrap Jay’s performance as it deals with Rasmus. Jay would have played anyway in 2012.

        Trading Rasmus puts Jay in CF and opens up RF for Craig (and also allowed StL to NOT have to sign Pujols for 260M).

        Anyway, I’m willing to compare Craig’s full time production in the OF over the next 3 years to Rasmus’s and see that both are team controlled and say that StL has GOOD chance at winning even this part of the deal.

        The idea was that StL was dumb and they got fleeced. With Rasmus in StL, Allen Craig doesn’t put up 2.6 WAR in 200 PA, and Jay doesn’t put up 2.8 WAR in 3/5th’s of a season in 2011.

        Those guys would have still played some, butting getting rid of Rasmus created an opportunity for these two guys to put up and additional 3 WAR over what they would have had CR been taking up their PA.

        The more you look at this, the less favorable it looks for TOR, and the smarter StL looks.

        StL was fortunate to win the WS. I grant that. Now, even if Rasmus puts up 15 WAR over the next 3 years, StL still looks good for making the trade. However, I wonder which guy has the best odds of putting up 10 WAR over the next 3 years: Colby Rasmus or Allen Craig? That’s the question for StL (since they both don’t make much and are under team control).

        StL decided they’d rather have Jon Jay/Allen Craig in the OF than Colby Rasmus. It’s not just the additional players they got in the trade, it’s that StL views jay/Craig as more productive than Rasmus, only without the headaches. It’s tough to argue that statistically … unless we view Rasmus as a 5 WAR player. I don’t. I think normal BABIP and slightly below average D makes him a ~3 WAR player, which puts him Jay and Craig in the same boat, and they all make about the same money. So, really StL lost nothing, and gained parts that helped them win the WS and get rid of a problematic personality. I’m down.

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      • www.thehotteststove.com says:

        I absolutely agree. And considering the fact that Rasmus was already an outcast who was sitting the bench and not performing well when he got spot starts….. the Cards did well to get so many pieces in return, even though they were short term. Everyone knew they wanted to unload him, and they used his past performance and potential to get good value despite issues about his mental capacity and current performance.
        Andy Van Slyke said in regards to Rasmus that you can’t consider him a 5-tool player because he can’t think clearly enough to use any of the 5….. I hope for Toronto’s sake he wasn’t right…..

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      • siggian says:

        “Anyway, I’m willing to compare Craig’s full time production in the OF over the next 3 years to Rasmus’s and see that both are team controlled and say that StL has GOOD chance at winning even this part of the deal.”

        If you want to play that game, Toronto also gets value in that Rasmus pushes Rajai Davis to the bench, which is also addition by subtraction.

        In all seriousness, this is very much a win-win trade in that both teams achieved their objective. That is, flags fly forever vs a young talented player playing an important position.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        This is wrong “But that won’t account for StL not having a chance at the 2011 title without the Rasmus trade.”

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        VEP,

        In all fairness, just because you said so isn’t a good enough argument for me.

        Rather than be told it’s wrong, I prefer to shown it’s wrong.

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      • MH says:

        Circlechange,

        I understand the argument you’re making–that Rasmus’s production value to the Cardinals was negligible considering the replacements. I do think you’re omitting a major part of this debate though: Market value opportunity cost. You can’t simply argue that because the Cardinals had internal replacements that could match or improve on Rasmus’s performance that this trade was bigger winner for them than the Jays. By this argument, any deal they made that netted a non-zero and non-negative return would have been a good trade. The issue is that the market may have been willing to pay quite a bit more for Rasmus in a different deal. This argument is complicated because it means measuring short term and long term risk/reward at the time the deal was made (yes, of course winning the WS makes any deal look good in hindsight). Even if the Cardinals wanted to place extreme emphasis on potential short term reward in lieu of long term reward, could they have gotten a better deal elsewhere? I’m not sure if the answer to that question is “yes,” but its also certainly not an unequivocal “no”. Additionally, any opportunity value they chose to pass up transfers to the Jays (again, looking at it from the perspective at the point the deal was made). If they had been so inclined, the Jays could have easily flipped Rasmus to another team for a haul that would have been substantially more valuable to them than the price they paid.

        To be clear: I’m agreeing with you that the knee-jerk reaction to the deal was probably too one-sided. But just because the Cardinals improved from the deal, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good trade for them. To call it so, you’d have to make a strong argument that other potential returns they could have gotten wouldn’t have been substantially better, even if you keep the focus on short term “win now” type moves. Its not a sure thing that they could have, but at the very least, its far from clear that they couldn’t have.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        The Cards obviously would have had a chance at winning the WS if they didn’t make the trade. A whole bunch of things had to happen for them to win it (The Braves choking, Freese, everything else that happened). The traded only added 1-2 wins to the club, it increased their odds of winning the WS by a little bit. Posing it as the final factor is wrong. Everything is a factor.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The Cards obviously would have had a chance at winning the WS if they didn’t make the trade.

        I’m saying that without the trade, they don;t make the playoffs.

        I’m saying StL could have replaced Franklin with Motte, benched Rasmus for Jay/Craig, and have ATL lose just as many games, and StL doesn;t make the playoffs.

        The contributions of Edwin Jackson, Scrabble, and Dotel were “just enough” to make the playoffs. Without them it’s not even “just enough”.

        StL made a whole bunch of moves that together made a helluva difference. I’m am likely blending them all into one event “The Rasmus Trade”, when that is not accurate.

        They could have made 4 out of the 5 moves without trading Rasmus.

        I agree with what you guys are saying in regards to that.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        haha yeah. and if Pujols had hit .220 they don’t make the playoffs, and if the brewers don’t choke the cards don’t make the playoffs, and if ryan theriot had gotten more starts, the cards don’t make the playoffs.

        none of that has anything to do with the rasmus trade however. you’re arguing that we should hold all performance constant, but if you’re replayin the season with rasmus as opposed to with jackson *you can’t hold the perfromances constant”.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I think you can apply whatever method is most accurate and exchanging Rasmus for th e3 pitchers works in StL’s favor, even if it’s projected performancevia regression to the mean.

        We could use expected performance for the rest of the year and with the trade StL lis likely better than just replacing Rasmus with Jay/Craig.

        I am assuming that StL does not get EJ, OD, and MR without trading CR. I think other teams valued CR much more than StL did.

        I’ve pretty much spent more time in this thread, from work, than i should have but I’ll check back later on and see what method of projection one should use, and then see how those results play out.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        The point is that the Cards could have made the playoffs without the trade, and they could have not made the playoffs with the trade.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I don’t see how people can say that StL could have made the playoffs without the trade. They barely made it with the trade, that provided them with new players that were upgrades over the guys they replaced.

        If they barely made it with a roster that was more talented, how could they still make it with a roster that was less talented.

        I take it we’re assuming that MIL, ATL, and everyone else performs the same as they actually did, otherwise we’re dealing with so many variables that we can’t really have the discussion.

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    • ScottyM says:

      Agree, people fail to mention the supplemental picks we will receive for Dotel & Jackson. Two top picks will net 2-4 WAR by some estimates. This must be factored into the bounty for dumping Colby. Another factor often overlooked is that Rzepcizvoireyiecycir has an opportunity to turn into a serviceable no 4-5 starter.

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    • Franklin Stubbs says:

      “we”?

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  3. CircleChange11 says:

    Instead, Tim Tebow himself shone down on the St. Louis Cardinals and led them to an improbable World Series title.

    Some of the stuff written is being increasingly difficult to take and treat seriously.

    This should read as:

    “The trade allowed St. Louis to significantly increase the true talent of their roster and become one of the most talented teams in baseball. That talent allowed them to capitalize on Atlanta’s collapse and win the world series.”

    Stop chalking it up to God, Tim Tebow, or just flat out luck. Post Rasmus trade, St. Louis, in regards to talent, was as good as any team in the National League. I am usually very critical of the StL FO, but this trade was magnificent. Not just because everything “worked out”, but because of how it allowed them to drastically upgrade their true talent.

    The upgrades to the bullpen, replacing Rasmus with Jay, allowing more PT for Craig, and Jackson replacing McLellan in the rotation were huge upgrades, like maybe 70-80 runs upgrade. That’s flat out amazing, and drastically changed the team and the season.

    We’re a data-based site. If you refer to WAR to show how much more value each new player provided over the guy that he replaced, you could illustrate just how magnificent these moves were.

    We can let other forums base things on name recognition and luck.

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    • Anon says:

      Well said.

      I agree completely that this article was lacking.

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    • Jim Breen says:

      That Tim Tebow comment was not meant to be taken seriously. It was a joke. Though the tribe has spoken, and I will be sure to not make such a grievous error and utilize a tongue-in-cheek statement again in the future.

      My apologies.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It’s not the specific comment, it’s the idea of just chalking it up to luck while ignoring the data-based aspects of the situation. There’s A LOT of very good data-based discussion to be had on this topic.

        I don’t understand why were not diving deep into this scenario given the nature of the consensus at the time of the trade.

        IMO, we’re missing a great learning experience in regards to [1] how a team can improve by making a trade that can move people to positions that improve their value (chaining). Essentially, the cardinals were able to replace a bad closer with a good one, and a CF with a better one (or combination) and via chaining, Edwin Jackson replaced their worst reliever with each reliever moving to a position where they were more valuable than the guy that previously in the role. I also think it [2] set StL up to Jay and Craig as starters (very low salary, under team control) for good value while moving Berkman to 1B (another team-friendly deal) instead of having to pay Pujols 250M for 10years.

        Personally, i drastically under-valued Allen Craig. This guy may have saved StL a TON of money AND allowed them to put better players on the field.

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      • juan pierres mustache says:

        i do recall people suggesting that there was a chance that the cards had made a potentially good deal for 2011 only, generally citing jon jay’s adequacy and rzepcyzynski/jackson/not having terrible middle relievers as improvements to the pitching. the negativity towards the trade seemed to be based on A) a belief that rasmus was better than he showed in 2011 and B) that the trade would not make a significant impact on the playoff chances of the cards (because the trade wasn’t actually a win-now, because the cards were too far out, etc.).

        my take on this is that point A is still valid, so from toronto’s perspective this trade looks exactly the same as it did when the trade went down. B is where i think the analysis broke down a bit–craig wasn’t valued correctly by a lot of people, and we clearly could not have known how close the race would end up being, so it was difficult to predict that a couple bullpen pieces could be absolutely crucial in making the playoffs.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        CircleChange – A lot of the Cardinals winning the world series was luck. The Braves choking was lucky, beating the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers was lucky to some extent.

        The Rasmus trade probably added 1 expected win to the 2011 team, and ended up adding about 3 actual wins. It was not the reason they won the WS.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        We should define what we mean by luck. I’ve already acknowledge that ATL losing so many games at the end of the year was luck. I’m saying without the Rasmus trade, StL would not have been in a position to capitalize on the collapse.

        As for beating the other teams. IMO, StL is as good as they are, if we go by WAR as value. We can look at it any number of ways, and when it comes down to it that any one specific team wins the WS is by some degree “luck” even though one team has to win it.

        The combination of moves drastically changed the team. The Rasmus trade seems to be the ignition point, and that’s what I am referring to as such. They could have just released Franklin and Miller and that alone would have improved the team. Benching Rasmus would improve the team (Jay/Craig taking his PA’s). But getting Edwin Jackson and Scrabble and Dotel improved the team as well, and in a way that could not have been accomplished in house.

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    • Dekker says:

      Haha. St. Louis was had 46 runs ahead of MIL in differential the day before the trade. By the end of the season MIL had a 13 run advantage over StL. They ended up having a mere 29 run positive swing after the trade. They were 3rd in the NL in differential before the trade, and they were 3rd in the NL by season’s end.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I’m talking “WAR runs”, or “true talent runs” whatever you want to call them … the runs that are used to calculate and/or are derived from WAR.

        I’m not talking runs scored/allowed or run differential.

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    • Shawn says:

      ……shut up! The thing that makes this site great is mixing facts with humor…..your preference for a lack of humor im sure is found in other forums as well….plus, you must be a raiders fan

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  4. CB says:

    Most importantly, flags fly forever.

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  5. The Great Gonzo says:

    ‘and the Cardinals lost Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to free agency, leaving them with only a situational lefty & A WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2011 to show for their former top prospect.’

    Hey, fixed that for you. Thank me later.

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    • Lightningwerks says:

      Hillarious…and true. That is what vivaelpujols is missing. He keeps saying that the trade only netted the team 3 actual wins. Well, since they only got the wild card spot by ONE win I suppose that this trade did indeed get them to the playoffs.

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  6. Anon says:

    Why does everyone assume that Rasmus will improve. He is young and has shown lots of potential. However, it takes a strong work ethic to reach that, and Rasmus showed no signs of being able to do that in the Cardinals organization.

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  7. spoof bonser says:

    First of all, thanks, great article, you are awesome.

    secondly you are lazy and you left out all important data, i hate you.

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  8. spoof bonser says:

    paraphrasing Rui

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  9. Vin says:

    I really don’t see what this article contributes. There’s not much in the way of in-depth analysis, it basically tells us what we already know: Rasmus was good, then he wasn’t, but he’ll probably bounce back, and the Cardinals did better than expected in the trade.

    You could still question whether St. Louis needed give up a piece as valuable as Rasmus in order to acquire a decent starter and bullpen parts, but that will likely get swept under the rug (understandably), due to how their season ended up.

    “Blue Jays fans likely feel a bit cheated after digesting much of the post-trade hype surrounding Rasmus.”

    Only the short-sighted ones, and I’d like to think those aren’t the ones that would read FanGraphs. There’s a pretty educated crowd here, I don’t see why you’d think your readership are the type to overreact to post-trade hype followed by a disappointing small sample size.

    You could have thrown in some WAR projections just for the sake of being statsy.

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    • stan says:

      We Cardinal fans got exactly what we expected, actually. We knew that by dumping Rasmus and fortifying the bullpen we’d be serious contenders. I’m still amazed that the rest of the world doesn’t get that. Every Cardinal fan knew this would make the Cardinals better than the Brewers and capable of winning it all. When you can guarantee that, you do the trade.

      Its not like Rasmus’ stock was ever going to be any higher.

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      • Vin says:

        Blatant homerism.

        Of course the team improved in the short term, by saying they did “better than expected” I mean they won the World Series. How many people expected that?

        Even with this improvement, the Cardinals still finished well behind the Brewers in the standings and had to rely on an incredible collapse by the Braves just to sneak into the playoffs. The Cardinals took a big gamble with this trade, and it worked out exactly as they had hoped.

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      • Anon says:

        Vin, this trade was a win for the Cardinals just by making the playoffs.

        After the trade, the Cardinals underperformed in August and overperformed in September. The Brewers played great and won the division, but luckily for the Cardinals, that isn’t the only way into the playoffs.

        had to rely on an incredible collapse by the Braves just to sneak into the playoffs The Cardinals played great in September (including a sweep of the Braves). Isn’t it great to look at both sides?

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      • stan says:

        Vin- the Cardinals won at a 97 win rate after their trades. The Brewers just happened to get crazy hot too. There’s no accounting for that, except that when the Brewers cooled off the team with the most talent won (and won pretty easily). After the trade the Cardinals were better than the Brewers, equally talented with the Rangers, and good enough to make a legitimate challenge to the Phillies.

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      • Vin says:

        I don’t mean to undersell the Cardinals success–there’s no question they got very hot, but that coincided with the Braves going cold. It took both of those things for them to make the playoffs.

        I’m not buying the idea though, that by getting a starter who performed at a league average level, two good bullpen arms, and by winning a playoff series the Cardinals became a better team than the Brewers, who as I said won the division rather handily. I don’t want to come off as whiny (I’m not a Brewers fan btw), but we all know that anything can happen in the playoffs.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Even with an under-performing bullpen and a struggling Rasmus, StL was in 1st place near the ASB. Seriously, with a return to the planet Pujols and without their ace, they were in 1st place around mid-season.

        But HERE’s where we’re conveniently inconsistent, the GD Brewers then rattled off something like a 22-3 record including multiple, memorable walk-off contests. But, it’s the cards that were lucky in 2011? Did anything go wrong for the Brewers during the regular season?

        All I am asking is that we lay out the “true talent” figures for the teams and see where StL, after trading Rasmus and acquiring Furcal, stands up. If they’re #1 in the NL, I’ll accept it. If they’re #3, I’ll accept it. If they’re #6, I’ll accept it. My point is that in the playoffs, they were as good as (if not better than) any other NL team. They weren’t just the blind squirrel that kept finding nuts.

        But StL made some serious changes that drastically changed the true talent on their roster, and I’m not sure non-StL fans realize that as so much of the attention gets placed on the (very real) lucky situation of Atlanta choking at the end. That part was luck. StL has no control over what ATL does.

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    • TheUncool says:

      Although Rasmus *should* bounce back (at least some) and still has the potential to become good-to-great for the long haul, the fact that he bombed so badly in 2011 should put some damper on the hype he received before. People can’t simply toss out his 2011 struggles in these analyses.

      Truth is his peripherals were never quite that great to suggest his 2010 performance was for real (at least at that point in his development). His 2010 BABIP was just way out of line for him, especially consider the big jump in K rate. He probably should’ve performed much closer to his 2009 line given that.

      I can see him bouncing back for somewhere close to 3 WAR in 2012 (like his 2009 line), *BUT* I can also see him struggling a good deal more before ever getting enough of it back together again. Afterall, it’s not like TOR has a great track record at developing their young bats into consistent performers.

      Who knows? Maybe Rasmus will just end up following Travis Snider out of TOR’s long term plans soon enough since they do have a few potential CF-type youngsters at various levels down in their farm. Heck, they even gave Snider a shot at CF — and supposedly, he’s not all bad out there although obviously not ideal…

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  10. sporkless says:

    This article left out the most important part of the deal: Corey Patterson.

    And the random pitchers the Jays got back, later to be DFA’d.

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    • www.thehotteststove.com says:

      Can we figure out how many runs TLR cost the Cardinals by bringing in Corey Patterson at the end of games? He sucks all the time, so let’s save him for the most crucial moments!!!!

      Message to TLR: Just because someone’s old, doesn’t make them good at their job (example: TLR).

      (See how it came full circle there? That’s the transitive property of sucking at managing.)

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      • Lightningwerks says:

        Can you explain how sucking at managing keeps getting someone jobs for 35 years and allows them to retire with three world series championships and the 3rd most wins in baseball history?

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      • Lightningwerks says:

        However, I totally agree with the Patterson always sucking part.

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      • Al Dimond says:

        Speaking of things coming full circle, as a Cubs fan, I think Corey Patterson winning a World Series ring as a member of the Cardinals has a certain kind of poetry to it (though it would have been better if he played in the playoffs).

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      • www.thehotteststove.com says:

        I think many at FanGraphs would agree that managers contribute very little to a team’s win/loss record over the course of a single season. The most successful skippers add a win or two for their ballclub according to Baseball Prospectus. I wish that better managing statistics were available, because TLR has had some great years throughout his career, but he was consistently bad this year. People might want to change the narrative based on what happened at the end of the year, but TLR made terrible decisions (and way too many unnecessary decisions) throughout most of the regular season. He over-managed frequently and cost his own team runs due to his decisions. Used to be an above average manager, but age and ego seemed to catch up to him over the last few years. I’d love to see some stats if anyone knows a way to quantify this….

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  11. Analysis says:

    Toronto Blue Jays get Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters.

    Rasmus is the only player not a FA this off season. (Walters was granted free agency per his baseball reference page.)
    So the Blue Jays got two months control of three bad pitchers and 3.5 years control of a high potential young CF.

    St. Louis Cardinals get Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, Marc Rzepczynski and cash.

    Rzep is the only player not a FA this offseason.
    So the Cards got 2 months control of a good starter, a good reliever, and a bad OF; they also got 4.5 years control of a good reliever (with a small possibility of being a mediocre starter). St. Louis recieved cash and (as a result of Dotel/Jackson leaving) two compensation draft picks.

    Clearly a win now trade for St. Louis. Send away 4 poorly performing players to get 1 poor performing and 3 well performing players.

    The trade was a risk for both teams that already rewarded St. Louis and could still reward Toronto if Rasmus performs well.

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  12. VegasCardFan says:

    “Rasmus potentially has at least three years remaining with the Blue Jays, and the Cardinals lost Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to free agency, leaving them with only a situational lefty to show for their former top prospect.”

    Oh..they are also left with a World Series title too!

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  13. VB says:

    I disagree with the “Even the forgettable Marc Rzepczynski” line. Scrabble was a pretty important piece of the deal from the beginning, much more than Dotel at the minimum.

    I agree with the above, the article could have been augmented a little bit, and I think this trade should be re-evaluated again at the end of 2012 for a better understanding of how it all played out.

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    • stan says:

      Agree. Scrabble was great with the Jays before the trade too. Its not like he came out of nowhere after the trade. He was more valuable than Dotel both before and after the trade. I can’t think of any reason why you’d highlight Dotel and call Rzepcyznski “forgettable”.

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      • Analysis says:

        I can’t think of any reason why you’d highlight Dotel and call Rzepcyznski “forgettable”.

        Dotel is more known.
        It doesn’t fit the story that AA is perfect.

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  14. stan says:

    I want to echo the sentiments of the vast majority of these posters but I also want to point out another aspect: St. Louis had no choice but to dump Rasmus when they did if they wanted to compete last year. They could not have competed with his pouty butt on the bench for the rest of the season watching Jay play every day.
    I also want to ask: what is the source of your certainty that Rasmus will bounce back next year? Keep in mind that he’s still only had 2 great (2010 and 2007), one decent (2009) and 2 horrible seasons (2011 and 2008) in his last 5. Its just as likely that he’s going to continue to be horrible as it is that he’s going to rebound. After all, he had a rare opportunity for a fresh start with the trade and crapped the bed even worse than he did in St. Louis.
    Really, this whole article reads as: “It looks like I was wrong about the trade, but I’m still going to be right”.

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    • TheUncool says:

      Aye. And don’t forget even his best seasonal line (in 2010) likely involved a lot of “luck” given the jump in K rate (although his BB also jumped) and the out-of-line BABIP. His 2010 peripherals suggest it probably should’ve been more like 2009, which is still pretty good, but not really great.

      And his 2007 was spent in a hitter’s league down in the farm, so that should be tempered some as well.

      He could just as easily follow TOR’s other formerly equally touted youngster who has gradually fallen out of favor now, ie. Travis Snider…

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  15. bluejaysstatsgeek says:

    One thing I am concerned about is the Jay’s handling/coaching of left-handed batters. I seems like just about every lefty underperforms expectations. Lind is struggling, Snyder spent most of 2011 in the minors, Rasmus got worse after the trade (but probably wasn’t listening to any coaches anyway) although Thames and Johnson were fine.

    All of this is confusing to me, as Murphy was a lefty and you’d think he would be better coaching lefties, yet he seems to have helped righties more.

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  16. boxcar_fritz says:

    The research conducted for this article was Rasmus-esque.

    #LazyRasmus

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  17. Dan M. says:

    ” The players acquired in the Rasmus trade performed quite well for the Red Birds.”

    Indeed. Which means that the trade worked out better for the Cards than most thought it would at the time. This has no bearing on what one thinks about the Toronto side of the deal. Save for Zach Stewart (who they used to get Edwin Jackson before flipping him in the Rasmus deal) none of the pieces the Jays lost were in any way a significant part of the club’s future. Rasmus did struggle to adapt to his new situation and then got hurt, but please don’t tell me I actually have to invoke the small sample disclaimer on Fangraphs, because that would be a sad day indeed.

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    • stan says:

      Really? Did Dotel, Rzepczynski or Jackson do better after the trade? Maybe Dotel did but that’s easily explained by LaRussa’s over-protectiveness about him only facing righties. It looks to me that Rzepczynski actually did a little worse and that Jackson and Rasmus were the same.

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  18. Endeav says:

    As a Jays fan, I don’t see why the StL crowd has to find every angle to spin it as them ‘winning’ over the jays. They made the post season out of sheer luck, if the Braves had not blown up you would not be analyzing it in such a manner. StL did end up winning the WS, and Toronto got a high ceiling CF that fits AA’s mold and is under team control.

    Both teams won.

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    • Anon says:

      Both teams won.
      Don’t be so quick to judge.

      The Blue Jays need Rasmus to perform to call this a win.

      The Cardinals won short term (and could do well long term depending on Rzep and the compensation picks).

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    • stan says:

      I don’t honestly care if the trade is a “win” over the Jays. I’m only responding because I was screaming my lungs out at the naysayers when this trade was made and this half-hearted mea culpa evidences a continued refusal to look at the trade rationally. This trade made sense for the Cardinals at the time and it was never the fleecing that people made it out to be.

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    • ms says:

      I think it’s due to the initial narrative established when the trade occurred, that Leonardo de Anthopoulous had just brilliantly stolen Stl’s best young player and left that drooling caveman-like imbecile Thag Mozeliak with spare parts with no possible value. I mean, what good is a bullpen and a good starting pitcher when you could have a young hitter with potential?
      In hindsight, it looks like 2 bright gm’s made a potentially mutually beneficial deal.

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    • Jibb says:

      “They made the post season out of sheer luck”

      Well, yeah. That and winning 90 games.

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  19. Pat says:

    I think this sentence from the post forgot a key part:

    ‘the Cardinals lost Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to free agency, leaving them with only a situational lefty to show for their former top prospect…..oh, and a World Series Championship’

    The Cards would trip over themselves to do this trade again if they could.

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  20. David says:

    I see, so every trade that the WS winner makes is justified because they won a WS?

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    • Alex says:

      How far do you think you’d get arguing with the guy who just won 150M in the lottery that those tickets were a bad gamble?

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      • David says:

        By you’re analogy you’re saying everyone who’s claiming the Rasmus trade was great for STL because they won the WS is an idiot? I wouldn’t go that far, but attributing winning the WS to this one trade is close to it.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      If those players contribute to the winning of the WS, yes. If those players don’t contribute to the winning of the WS, no.

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    • Joel says:

      As a Cubs fan…..YES!!!!!!!!!

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  21. Alex says:

    You’re not even going to mention the fact that he was injured?

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  22. steven says:

    “…leaving them with only a situational lefty to show for their former top prospect.”

    instead, how about

    a situational lefty and a World Series banner?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. frugalscott says:

    One of the problems with fancying ourselves as the cool, smart guys who base our assumptions on numbers and not on feelings and observations alone is that we can sometimes go overboard in using misleading numbers or ignoring numbers that might tell a more complete story.

    I get this article. I understand that there is a ton of Rasmus love out there and I understand that there is also a desire in some circles to paint Anthopoulos as a coler-than-everyone, ‘statsy’ GMs.

    So the feeling here is that Rasmus will have a ‘bounce back’ season. To what? He was a nearly 3 WAR player in 2009 as a rookie, but that overall number was fueled by a defensive metric that he has never come close to approaching in either of his other two major league seasons. He indeed was a 4.3 WAR player in 2010, but he had a very favorable baserunning number then and a BABIP of .354!!! He has never been in that neighborhood of BABIP at any level in his career since his first taste of pro ball in 2006. His best number in that category before that 2010 aberration (in any reasonable sample size) was .300 in his AA season. In his other two MLB seasons he was at .282 in 2009 and the noted .267 last season. Yet, the author says with a straight face (or keyboard, as it were) that “logic suggests that he will return to his career .298 BABIP”.

    In this case, we need to take a step back and simply say that Rasmus is a guy who is incredibly inconsistent and we honestly have no clue what to expect from him going forward. He can do a lot of good things on a baseball field. Unfortunately, he has trouble doing any of them on a regular basis. We can say that the Cardinals won the deal in the short term, but we can’t anticipate that Rasmus will do anything going forward to shift the balance in the favor of the Jays. The Cardianls very well may have assumed that filling Rasmus’ spot with more projectible (read:consistent) players was a better way to win, in 2011 and beyond.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Jonathan Reimer says:

    While this article does a good job at assessing the value each time got from their acquisitions in 2011, I think the point here is that there is no single “winner” in the trade. This was not a challenge trade, it was a swap of players to address the needs of two orgs that were at a very different point in the development trajectory.

    The Cardinals were willing to give up future WAR for the 2011 WAR boost that would get them to the playoffs. Without a doubt, they come out as smashing winners on this one.

    The Jays were willing to give up surplus RP as they were not required for 2011 or probably even 2012 (for the purposes of contending). They were dealing for upside WAR in the future at a premium position. Part of this is the recognition there was greater risk assumed by the Jays in the deal. It has played out exactly as expected thus far, with Rasmus not producing to his potential (risk realized) but with the expectation that the WAR can be produced in 2012-2014.

    There was no single winner to this deal. I think both GMs would do this again in a heartbeat. From a Jays point of view I thin it strengthens AA’s reputation as a GM that seeks fair return for both sides in a deal, which will bode well when he approaches other GMs in the future.

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  25. Joe says:

    I find it funny about the talk about how his BABIP should regress and lead to an improved performance, yet people rarely talk about his BABIP ann BSR fueled (flukish) 4.3 WAR in 2010 and how that should have been majorly regressed.when people were falling over backwards to anoint AA’s latest steal

    It seems like people thought that was the achievable ceiling and I think have vastly overestimated Rasmus’ hit tool. His defense has been well below average the last 2 years (UZ/150 of -10.7 and -9.4) and while that is obviously a small sample it takes the shine off of +14 that he posted as a rookie.

    He’s definitely a solid piece, but for some reason most people viewed him as a likely star in the making. Maybe he does post better than average defense and BABIP’s well over .300, but that seems a bit more like hope now.

    I do greatly appreciate re-visitiing the trade as folks in the media are always so quick to anoint a winner and loser… I hope this is something you and the rest of the Fangraphs writing staff continues to do with other trades in the future

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  26. CircleChange11 says:

    Another question …

    We have 3 seasons of Colby Rasmus, one good, one medium, and one bad. Why do we assume that the good season is the real Colby Rasmus?

    If we take the average of the factors we end up with …
    [1] Below average fielder.
    [2] Below Average batter.
    [3] Above average baserunner.

    Positional adjustment only counts for so much, and his positional adjustment is negated by the defense metrics.

    If we use the 5/3/1 ratings to project a 4th season, we get a ~2 WAR player. On the Cardinals, that makes you the 5th best outfielder (including Berkman). I am not at all insulting Colby Rasmus.

    But really, if we apply the same formulas and calculations to him that we do everyone else, then the relish is off the hot dog, the chrome is off the bumper, and the luster is off the diamond … but they still get a 2 WAR CF for 3 years of team controlled value … that’s good for them. StL gets an opening for Allen Craig, via a couple of other situations, and Craig is projected to be just as good or even better in 2012 (and maybe better over the next 3 years) .

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    • LTG says:

      This is why I was perplexed by the analysis of the trade at the time, and why I adamantly opposed those who suggested the Phillies trade for Rasmus. He’s nice but not a major piece worth sacrificing prospects for.

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  27. LTG says:

    “logic suggests that he will return to his career .298 BABIP and career 18.5% line-drive percentage”

    I take it you mean that typical statistical reasoning suggests etc. Logic and statistical reasoning are not the same, not even close. Logic is the set of apriori formal principles of valid argument, i.e., logic merely determines whether an argument is valid not whether the conclusion is true. The truth of the conclusion depends on the truth of the premises, which logic tells you nothing about. Statistical reasoning is based on aposteriori principles for using statistics to draw conclusions–aposteriori in so far as they are generalities not universalities. The principles of statistics are substantive not formal; they tell you not only what conclusions are validly drawn from statistical premises but also that some of the premises in the argument are true (obviously not the particular statistics used).

    So why care about the difference besides for the sake of precision? When you misuse the term logic by saying something like “logic suggest, dictates, etc.,” you immunize the move you are making in your argument. You force the objector to take a purportedly illogical position in order to disagree with you. And, of course, the one thing no one should do when making an argument is violate the strictures of logic. That is immediate failure.

    Anyway, yeah, good article; it spurred a good baseball discussion.

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  28. Brad says:

    Colby Rasmus might have gone on a tear and slugged .950 the rest of the season and propelled the Cardinals to an easy World Series victory had he not been traded. We can’t know for sure what would have happened. The Cardinals probably improved their chances of making the play offs from about 5 % to about 10 % by making the trade. Was it worth it? It sure didn’t seem like it at the time, but in hindsight, it was. It doesn’t mean it was a good trade, it just seems like it in hindsight because it happened to work out.

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    • Alan says:

      Hindsight is a huge part of judging trades. A lot of the so-called worst trades in the history of baseball probably seemed like fair deals at the time and received little criticism until the results started to shift into one team’s favor over time.

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    • TheUncool says:

      Actually, I’d argue it’s quite unlikely for Rasmus to bounce back in the latter part of the season in that fashion considering what he was actually doing.

      Truth is he outperformed his peripherals in 2010, and the 2011 outcome apparently swung in the other direction to the extreme.

      He probably needed to fix something in his approach (that opposing pitchers may have figured out and exploited), and that wasn’t likely to happen while they’re chasing the wildcard as serious underdogs at that point.

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  29. Mike Green says:

    Aside from the uncertainty concerning Rasmus’ future performance, there remains some uncertainty about Zep’s future role. He had a decent start to his career as a starter, and a very good minor league record. The possibility remains that the Cardinals move him to the rotation and that he ends up as far and away the best player in the trade.

    The trade clearly worked out very well for the Cardinals in the short term, and it is best not to make any grand pronouncements about the long-term in a case like this one.

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  30. flyerdog11 says:

    Without comment on the trade from Toronto’s perspective, my thought about the trade at the time it happened was that if the players the Cards acquired helped them win the World Series in 2011, then it was a good trade for the Cardinals, period.

    Lo and behold, the Cardinals won the World Series. They would not have done so without this trade.

    Therefore, it was a good trade for the Cardinals.

    Period.

    Players come and go but flags fly forever, and flags are a lot harder to get.

    To those of you saying they were just lucky, because they needed the Braves to collapse just to make the playoffs, two things:

    (1) They were also better than the Braves. The Cards had the best offense in the NL–by pretty much any measure–and an above-average pitching staff after the trade. The Braves also had very good pitching, but a mediocre to terrible offense. They were pretty even before the trade, but it’s hard to say Atlanta was better after it. I believe even Fangraphs commented, not long after the WS, that the wonder is not that the Cards managed to catch up to the Braves, but that it took them so long to do so.

    (2) So what? Even if the Cards don’t make the trade, the Braves still would have played poorly down the stretch–but without the trade, the Cards wouldn’t have been there to catch them.

    I’ve seen at least one poster on here say that the trade only improved the Cardinals by one or two wins. Even if that’s true…doesn’t it still seem to prove that without the trade, the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs?

    There are a few long-term implications still in play for the Cardinals, but this was always seen as basically a win-now trade from their point of view; they saw a team with a chance and a hole and took a calculated risk to fill the hole. And it worked exactly as they hoped.

    From the perspective of a Cardinals fan, I don’t care about what Colby Rasmus goes on to do. All I care about is the eleventh little pillar, labeled “2011,” that will be on the World Champions display over the right field scoreboard at Busch Stadium.

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  31. Timbo says:

    I think the Rasmus deal allowed STL to fortify their rotation and bullpen, thereby allowing them to make the playoffs. So, in the context of winning in 2011, the Cardinals accomplished what they wanted. Now, as far as who “won” the trade in the long-term, that’s obviously anybody’s guess. My gut feeling about Rasmus is that he is a very talented natural athlete who is flawed in his head-game. I agree with Van Slyke… Rasmus will never reach his potential until he gets his head right, and I don’t think the move from STL to Toronto is going to fix that. The Cardinals got very little in terms of long-term value for Rasmus. I like “Scrabble”, but unless he really turns it up a few notches, he will not be as big a contributor as Rasmus likely will. So in that sense, Toronto got more value. But until Rasmus get his head out of his butt, I think that value is going to be minimal at best.

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