Friday, March 02, 2012

Arguing Yadier Molina's New Contract

For as long as there have been people watching sports, there have been people vehemently arguing the sports they are watching. That's part of the fan experience. And just because you start writing about what you are watching, that doesn't mean you stop arguing. The key, of course, is to argue without turning such differing opinions into personal attacks. Twitter has become a place where friendship can develop with people you would never meet otherwise. This just increases the amount of people you can argue with. Such an argument occurred yesterday between yours truly and Andrew Martin. The subject was Yadier Molina.

Martin is a writer that is much admired here. He writes for, and his own site, He can be found on Twitter @HistorianAndrew. The guy is simply terrific. And as such, a worthy opponent for such a conversation. Martin basically believes the St. Louis Cardinals are crazy for signing Molina for five years at $75 million, the equivalent of $15 million per season. The signing makes Yadier Molina the second highest paid catcher in baseball. Andrew Martin believes that Molina is not an elite player and thus the contract is way out of line. Here's how the conversation went:

Obviously, Andrew wasn't swayed at all in his thinking. And that's okay. But here are some thoughts concerning his arguments. First, contracts are always based on past performance and how those performances predict future performance given what we know about age cycles, etc. For obvious reasons, the only leverage a player has is what he has done in the past. But Andrew's original point was that Yadier Molina hasn't done enough. The counterpoint made was that player pages at sites like and do not yet include all that we now know about catching.

This seems like a broken record here, but this writer has become enamored with the work done by Mike Fast found here and the work done by Bojan Koprivica found here. The great service that Koprivica did in his piece was incorporate Fast's work and created an adjusted WAR for the catchers based on both of their work. This is much closer to the true value of catchers than what we get on B-R or Fangraphs (to this point). 

Fast's work suggests that Yadier Molina's worth at framing pitches (getting extra strikes for his pitchers) is about seven runs per season. Ten runs (roughly) equals a win. Koprivica assigns Molina as the second best catcher in baseball at blocking pitches in the dirt and that his skill in doing so has been worth roughly five runs a season. If you combine the two as Koprivica has done, you can give Molina's value another 1.3 wins a season above replacement. Since wins are currently valued at roughly $4.5 million a piece, then Molina's hidden catching skills are worth $5.86 million a year. What does that do to this value proposition?

As stated in the tweets, Fangraphs has valued Yadier Molina for $41.2 million over the last three seasons. That is an average of $13.73 million per season. On the face of that knowledge, yes, the Cardinals have apparently overpaid Molina's value. But if you add in the $5.86 million per year calculated in the previous paragraph, you now have a catcher whose real worth was $19.59 million per season. That changes the value proposition completely.

Yes, there are risks involved with this deal. Yadier Molina needs to stay healthy during these five years and continue to produce the value that he has displayed over the past three seasons. The amazing Dave Cameron fairly calculates this risk for us and is worth reading. To be sure, the Cardinals are paying a premium to who many believe to be the best catcher in the game today. The Cardinals believe that Yadier Molina was a vital part of them winning two World Series titles with him behind the plate. So who is to blame them for putting their money behind their belief system. The reward of tying up the best catcher in the game is worth the risk.

Let's Slow Down on Salvador Perez

Kansas City Royal fans have a lot to be excited about with the approaching 2012 season. They have a roster full of exciting, young player with more on the way. And now the Royals are taking a page out of the Rays' small market handbook by extending contracts to young players. It was announced today that Salvador Perez was signed through his control years with a five year deal that will pay him $7 million. But some are ridiculing Perez for leaving money on the table. For example, here is a Jon Heyman tweet.
Someone has to be the voice of sanity here. Salvador Perez has played 39 games at the major league level. And that was after playing only 12 games at the Triple A level. Why yes, Perez set the world on fire in his 39 major league games. Yes, he put up a slash line of .331/.361/.473 after putting up a similar line together in his 12 Triple A games. As nice as that looks, it's a terribly small sample size to be getting this excited. 

It's obvious that the Royals believe in this 21 year old Venezuelan. The team signed him when he was sixteen years old and they have gotten to see him play all through their minor league system. And catching is a premium need throughout Major League Baseball. Always has been. Always will be. So it makes sense for the Royals to tie him up for the next five years. But the rate is very reasonable considering the risk. And there is considerable risk.

For one, Perez has no plate discipline. You can't call his 4 percent walk rate for the Royals a small sample size because that rate is consistent for his entire minor league career. Fangraphs has him swinging at nearly 43 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. PitchF/X has him at nearly 38 percent. Whichever system you go by, that's a lot of swinging at non-strikes. It is very difficult for players of this style of offensive game to develop discipline at the plate as the years go by. 

That said, there also has to be regression for his batting average once he gets more playing time. It would seem to be difficult to sustain a .362 BABIP over time. The one caveat with saying that is that Perez did whistle line drives at a 29 percent rate, which is extremely high. If that's the real Perez, then perhaps he can sustain the BABIP. But that doesn't seem likely either. What this observer sees is a guy who got extremely hot at the plate for 51 games last season between Triple A and the majors. Shouldn't we at least see how that pans out with more service time before we all jump on this bandwagon?

The next question is what kind of receiver he is. Perez only threw out 21 percent of base steal attempts last season. That's not very good. But his minor league record at such events is higher. But even there, his success rate lessened the higher he went in the minors and was at 33 percent in Triple A. Of course, a runner's success rate is due as much to the pitcher as it is the catcher, so it's hard to hold that against Perez.

Perez only made two errors in 39 games, so that's a good fielding percentage. assigned him a negative value for his defense while Fangraphs gave him a positive value. If we average them out, Perez seems like a decent receiver. Since he caught so few innings, there isn't any framing value or blocking pitches in the dirt value was can gain for insight. He allowed only two passed balls but eighteen wild pitches. The latter seems high. 

The bottom line here is that Salvador Perez is just a fledgling major league catcher. If left to his own devices, he would be looking at minimum salary for the next two to three years as he won't be eligible for arbitration until 2017. The Royals have taken an appropriate risk but not an extravagant one. Perez will get a bump in salary from what he would have made for the next few years. That should be enough time for the Royals to figure out what kind of player they have in Perez. 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Odds are Long on Kendrys Morales Comeback

Bobby Abreu is an unhappy guy right now. His role with the Angels will be diminished since the Angels signed Albert Pujols. The Pujols signing created a domino effect that pushed Mark Trumbo off of first base and into an already crowded outfield picture. The picture gets further complicated by the expected return of Kendrys Morales from an injury saga that resulted on a leap of joy following a walk off home run early in the 2010 season. Morales is being pushed as the designated hitter. But Bobby Abreu should sit tight. To expect any kind of comeback from Morales seems like very long odds.

It is not historically unusual for a player to miss as much time as Morales has and come back to be productive. Heck, during and after World War II, it happened all the time. In more recent times, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals missed a long time and came back to be a terrific starter for that team. But even so, the injury to Kendrys Morales involved one of his wheels and the guy is only recently getting back to running and will soon test his recovery by running the bases. Does that sound as scary to you as it does here? The legs are the most important aspect of a ball player. A pitcher gets his drive from his legs and the same for a batter. And Morales has had multiple surgeries on his injured ankle. It's one thing to consider running. It's another to consider starting from that far back to actually playing the game.

For fascinating stuff, simply look at projections for Morales for 2012. Bill James is typically bullish. The zen master projects Morales to hit a slash line of, .296/.341/.504 in 141 games played. Holy cow! If Morales could come close to that number of games played and production, the Angels should regain the top spot in the division. But is that realistic? Not from this basement office chair.

ZiPS projections are a bit more cautious. That projection has Morales at, .274/.321/.455 in 87 games. RotoChamp is even more ambitious than Bill James and projects Morales at, .298/.356/.528 in 436 plate appearances. Steamer Projections seem to be the most cautious with a projection of only 246 plate appearances at, .282/.338/.484. To round out our projection field, we end at Baseball Prospectus which has Morales at, .283/.328/.469 in 350 plate appearances.

All these projections listed, even the most cautious, assume that Morales will be able to come back and be immediately close to as effective a hitter as he was before he was injured. The most cautious still thinks he will attain 246 plate appearances while doing so. That seems like a stretch to anyone's imagination. Granted, those people are all smart people. They have all earned the respect they have in the baseball writing and analysis world. But this observer thinks they are all crazy on this one.

First, Kendrys Morales has to prove he can even play baseball again. He hasn't done that yet. So that is still an open question. Secondly, once Morales can prove he can play baseball, to expect him to play close to his former ability after nearly two years of an absence seems a stretch.

Look, we all root for the comeback story and therefore, we all hope that Kendrys Morales can resume what was once a promising career. That career was derailed in one of the freakiest accidents ever to occur on a baseball field. But the reality is that Morales first has to prove he is physically able to play and then prove he can still perform at the high level that all these folks expect. If this writer was a betting man, Bobby Abreu should keep his bat and batting gloves warm in 2012. He's going to need them more than the Angels think.

BBA Linkfest - March of the Generals

Can you believe it is March!? How awesome is that? For those of us that live way up north, that extra day in February was simply an extra day of winter. But March brings hope. Soon Spring Training baseball will be on and spring will really feel like it's almost here. It is only fitting that on such a lovely day of hopefulness, the latest round of links are presented from around the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. What can be better than to contemplate a new year of baseball with a go round of great writing from around the world? Click once. Click often. And enjoy.

We will start our journey with Diamond Hoggers where TheNaturalMevs tells us that Jason Heyward is 90 percent back. 

Dugout 24 celebrated Leap Day by going back in time to 1972 when Henry Aaron became the highest paid player in baseball.

The OCP, a writer over at For Baseball Junkies worries over baseball's credibility after the Bruan situation.

The Kansas City Royals' projected lineup is the topic of a post over at The Baseball Index. The Royals are one team this Fan is looking forward to seeing in 2012.

Over at Going Yard, the writer is still upset about the Ryan Braun incident. Find out why and who he blames.

The Golden Sombrero has had one great series after another this off season. There were the top 100 prospects. There were draft previews. Now check out Mike Rosenbaum's Spring Training Prospect Invite series. Fantastic.

The Hall of Very Good just can't put Jose Canseco behind them. Every time the site tries, Canseco reels them back in. What did he do now? Check it out.

The terrific Russ Blatt has his own take on the Red Sox decision to ban beer from the clubhouse in 2012. 85% Sports.

Ryan Sendek from Analysis Around the Horn has a great multimedia entry called, "The Boy and His Baseball Game." Always good stuff from Ryan.

Sooze continues her Haiku baseball previews over at Babes Love Baseball. Love, love, love this series.

This Fan's buddy, Daniel, has a really unique mind. First he comes up with the Baseball Solstice. Now he is remaking the sky with baseball constellations. There is a fine line between genius and madness. Check out The Ball Caps Blog

Speaking of genius, check out Stevo-Sama's recap of a game played in the Australian Baseball League playoffs. The boy from The Baseball Enthusiast sure can write!

Baseball Unrated continues there position by position rankings of fantasy baseball players. This week, it's first base. 

Over at Baseblog, Justin Jabs shares his two favorite spring stories. Good stuff!

In a great read, Kyle Davis of Call to the Pen wonders if Zack Greinke has a chance to win the Cy Young Award this coming season. Great analysis.

Since there was just a major documentary on television about the Amish, it seems only relevant that Che Palle! has posted a great picture of Buck Showalter signing autographs. Hey, Mario, have you discovered The Garfoose in Italy yet? 

Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please. has the post of the week that caps off Black History Month with a bang. You've got to read this one!

Curly Bender of Crum-Bum Beat continues his all-time pitching rotation series with a surprising conclusion about the 1971 Baltimore Orioles' staff. Awesome post.

Theo has some fascinating thoughts about the Ryan Zimmerman extension in a thoroughly satisfying post over at Hot Corner Harbor.

Not only is this Fan a friend of the author of Left Field, but this Fan is a avid Fan of the guy's writing. Case in point is a terrific read this week about how a childhood game helped fuel the sabermetric age. 

A great post over at Major League A**Holes dares to dream about the 2012 Chicago White Sox. 

Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt has the touching story of the month. Now let's hope the subject's eye is okay.

Sam Evans wonders why Tom Glavine is still underrated among baseball fans everywhere. He poses an excellent question and has the analysis over at MLB Reports.

Niktig of Niktig's Baseball Blog gives us his catching fantasy rankings. Which only confirms this Fans confusion with the whole fantasy baseball thing. Miguel Montero, eight?? Russell Martin, seventeenth??

Old Time Family Baseball talks about one of this Fan's favorite baseball stories - Jamie Moyer. Awesome! Especially a part of Moyer's history that few of us knew.

Ron over at Pop Fly Boys writes about Baseball's Golden Age this week. Great post, Ron.

In this Fan's favorite post this week at his favorite site, The Platoon Advantage, TCM gives his annual review of off season rankings for each franchise. He rated the Twins too high, but we can forgive him that, especially since who he picked for number one.

Replacement Level Baseball Blog continues its series of baseball previews. This time it's the AL East. Agree with the conclusions listed there.

The Sports Banter found a twin brother of agent, Scott Boras. Yikes! Could the world survive a second one?

Sully wants his beloved Terry Francona to shut up. Oof. Check out the details over at Sully Baseball.

Jeff Dickinson has a great post over at Through the Fence Baseball on how the Dodgers can be better in 2012. 

Mike Cardano of the X-Log isn't exactly a fan of extra playoff spots. Right with you there, pal.

Our newest member to the General Chapter is The Wolf's Den. We welcome them as their inaugural link is a tribute to Gary Carter. 

And finally, since this writer is becoming a disciple of Bill Ivie's school of self-promotion, here is a link to a game in 1995 written by yours truly on one of his other employment venues. 

Have a great week, everyone.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jason Varitek Perspective

Jason Varitek is set to retire tomorrow from Major League Baseball and of course, such news always requires some sort of retrospective analysis. Was he a Hall of Fame player? Where does he rank among catchers of his generation? Yes, such news is always our cue to write something to sum up a career. Such retrospectives are complicated when such a retiring player played for a high profile team. And few teams have had a higher profile than the Boston Red Sox during Varitek's career. When that happens, it becomes hard to sort through the hype of it all. Thanks to the East Coast Bias, the Red Sox and Yankees were the greatest show on earth during the time Varitek played in Boston. How can any perspective be gained with that kind of side show?

What did we hear during all of that hype? Varitek was the captain of the Red Sox. He was the leader of the pitching staff. He was the heart of the Boston Red Sox. His pitchers loved working with him. Perspective on Jason Varitek is just as difficult as it was over a month ago when Jorge Posada retired. Back then, this space concluded that Posada did not have a Hall of Fame career. Well, if Posada is not a Hall of Fame catcher, than neither is Jason Varitek, whose statistical totals pale in comparison to Posada. In fact, Varitek's closest comparable as a catcher is Ramon Hernandez and nobody is going to promote Hernandez for the Hall of Fame.

This space has also promoted the fantastic work of Mike Fast on framing pitches (Varitek was not very good in that study) and Bojan Koprivia's study of blocking pitches in the dirt (Varitek was just above league average). lists Varitek as a catcher with a total negative value for his defense over his career. rated his defense even worse. Varitek's ability to throw out base runners was legendary in its awfulness. But in the end, does any of that matter? If not, than what does?

How about the fact that Jason Varitek caught Pedro Martinez 168 times. And in those games, Martinez had his highest strikeout to walk ratio and his lowest ERA of any catcher he ever threw to. That was magic. But was that Pedro's magic or was it a combination of Pedro and his catcher? Curt Schilling had three catchers that caught him more than 90 times. Of the three, Schilling had the highest strikeout to walk ratio with Varitek than the other two. Coincidence? Perhaps. Who knows. But it was fun to watch, wasn't it? Varitek was a part of the battery of the two best Red Sox pitchers of this recent generation.

For this observer, sometimes you have to get beyond the statistics that we all hang our hats on these days. Yes, Varitek had a career OPS+ of 98. Yes, when you add it all together, he wasn't that great defensively. No, he wasn't a Hall of Fame player. But during his time in Boston, the Red Sox won two World Series titles. Baseball is a team sport. It takes more than a great player for a team to win it all. It takes a team. Jason Varitek was a part of those teams. For generations of Red Sox fans, the team's heroics of 2004 and 2007 put an end to a long drought and a curse. Despite what the stats say or don't say, Jason Varitek was a part of that story. And this week a part of that story will fade away into history. Yaz might be in the Hall of Fame, but Jason Varitek will retire with two rings. That's the only perspective worth talking about.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Neikro and Perry Brothers

Let us take a little bit of a pause between the end of the off season and the beginning of Spring Training baseball games and look at two amazing brother acts of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. No brother acts won more games pitching than the Neikro brothers, Phil and Joe. But right behind them are the Perry brothers, Jim and Gaylord. Two are in the Hall of Fame, two were known "cheaters" and all together, these four men combined to win 1,068 games, pitch 17,534 innings, 769 complete games and 159 shutouts. Remarkable. The two sets of brothers total statistics are amazingly close considering how long they pitched. Just for the fun of it, let's break it all down and compare the Perry brothers to the Neikro brothers.

First, a little background. The Neikro brothers were from Ohio. Phil was born in 1939 and Joe in 1944. Phil was signed as a free agent by the Braves in 1958 and made his debut in the majors in 1964. The Braves were still in Milwaukee. Phil pitched 24 seasons and retired after the 1987 season. Joe was drafted by the Cubs in 1966 and pitched 22 seasons, retiring after the 1988 season.

The Perry brothers were both born and raised in Williamston, North Carolina. Jim was born in 1935 and Gaylord in 1938. Jim was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1956 and made his debut in 1959. His seventeen year career ended after the 1975 season. Gaylord was signed by the Giants in 1958 and made his major league debut in 1962. He pitched 22 years and retired after the 1983 season. So the Perrys were slightly older and started their careers slightly earlier. But you can safely state that all four are from the same baseball generation and faced similar competition for their careers.

The Neikro brothers, of course, will forever be the answer to the trivia question as to which set of brothers have the most combined wins pitching in Major League Baseball. They finished with 539 combined wins or just ten more than the Perry brothers. But as we should all know by now, a pitcher's won-loss record is not entirely of a pitcher's own doing. A lot depends on the team, the park, his fielders and other factors. We now have other tools that can measure careers relative to those other factors. There is WAR (wins above replacement), ERA+ and other things we can look at. Again, the striking thing about these two sets of brothers is how similar their statistics are. Let's list a few of them.

  • Jim Perry: 215-174, 3.45 ERA, 109 complete games, 32 shutouts, 10 saves, 1.255 WHIP, 8.6 hits per nine innings, 2.7 BB/9, 4.3 K/9, 1.58 K/BB ratio, 106 ERA+, 33.3 bWAR.
  • Gaylord Perry: 314-265, 3.11 ERA, 303 complete games, 53 shutouts, 11 saves, 1.181 WHIP, 8.3 hits per nine, 2.3 BB/9, 5.9 K/9, 2.56 K/BB ratio, 117 ERA+, 96.3 bWAR.
  • Joe Neikro: 221-204, 3.59 ERA, 103 complete games, 29 shutouts, 16 saves, 1.319 WHIP, 8.7 hits per nine innings, 3.2 BB/9, 4.4 K/9, 1.38 K/BB ratio, 98 ERA+, 30.2 bWAR
  • Phil Neikro: 318-274, 3.35 ERA, 245 complete games, 45 shutouts, 29 saves, 1.268 WHIP, 8.4 hits per nine innings, 3.0 BB/9, 5.6 K/9, 1.85 K/BB ratio, 115 ERA+, 96.8 bWAR

How remarkably close are those numbers! The Perrys combined for 129.6 bWAR, the Neikros, 127 bWAR. Look at how close their hits per nine rates were! And one stat that wasn't mentioned, this quartet's homers per nine innings are identical. Gaylord (0.7), Jim (0.8), Phil (0,8), Joe (0.7). 

It's a shame to give one set of brothers the edge, but history has already done that by listing the Neikros as the number one winning duo. So, we have to even the score a little bit. The Perrys had 2.6 more combined bWAR compiled in 363 less innings pitched. With Joe's 98 ERA+ total, you have to give the Perrys the edge there too. Between them Gaylord (2) and Jim (1) won three Cy Young Awards. The Neikros didn't win any. Both Joe and Phil each had one second place finish. Both Phil Neikro and Gaylord Perry were selected to five All Star squads. Jim Perry was elected to three, but Joe Neikro never made the All Star team. Phil was the only one of the four to win a Gold Glove and he won five of those.

There is not much to gain by looking at their post season records. The Perry brothers had limited appearances in the post season and both had an ERA over six in their small sample sizes. Phil Neikro started two games in the post season, pitched well, but never won a post season game. Joe Neikro pitched twenty innings in the post season and never gave up a run. But he didn't get any wins either. 

What about batting? Not much to see there. The Neikro brothers had a combined bWAR of -5.8 as batters and the Perry brothers, a combined -4.3 bWAR. The Perry brothers did hit eleven combined homers though whereas the Neikro brothers only hit one each. Put it all together and you have a slight edge to the Perry brothers as the better pair, but it isn't by very much.

Of course, both Gaylord Perry and Joe Neikro were suspended for doctoring baseballs. But that didn't keep Gaylord out of the Hall of Fame. Let's just wrap this up by stating matter-of-factly that we will probably never see two sets of brothers pitch in the same era like that again with that kind of longevity and that kind of success. The two sets of brothers are a remarkable story taken together. And it's a story unique to baseball history.

Some Perry/Neikro trivia:

  • Which is the only one of the four never to pitch for the Yankees? Jim Perry.
  • Which is the only one of the four never to pitch for the Braves? Jim Perry.
  • Which is the only one of the four never to pitch for the Indians? Joe Neikro.
  • Which set of brothers had more twenty-win seasons? The Perrys, six to five.
  • Which is the only one to lose twenty games in a season? Phil Neikro. He did it twice. Gaylord Perry once lost 19 games.
  • Which of the four never had a 40-start season? Joe Neikro. Phil had forty or more three times, Gaylord also did it three times and Jim did it once.
  • Which is the only one of the four to win an ERA title? Phil Neikro in 1967.
  • Which is the only one of the four to lead the league in strikeouts? Phil Neikro in 1977.
  • The quartet won 196 total games as pitchers over the age of 39. Phil won 121 of those. Jim Perry was the only one of the quartet not to pitch past the age of 39.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Staying on the Colby Rasmus Bandwagon

The St. Louis Cardinals are in many ways the perfect organization. The team has great fans, great baseball writers and a very long tradition. The Cardinals have had great success over the years and it's extremely hard to find fault with a team that just won another World Series title for one of the best cities in America. But in many ways, it's all that tradition and richness of history that ran against Colby Rasmus in his tenure there. Rasmus came down on the wrong side of the bandwagon.

When a city's love affair with a baseball team is that rosy, how can a player who falls into a bad light survive? How can that player do anything right once he goes afoul of all of that? He can't. But as written here, here and originally here, this outsider has long supported Rasmus. Heck, somebody has to. Along with the support of the player comes the acknowledgement that without having first hand access to the inner workings of the Cardinals, there is no way of stating matter-of-factly who was at fault in the fall from grace of Colby Rasmus in St. Louis.

This, of course, runs right in the face of the opinion of the many friends that have been made with those who write in support of the Cardinals. Colby Rasmus was the problem they all believe. And it's not just the writers and bloggers of the team that we're fighting here. There is also the Cardinal fans who populate Twitter who were mostly vicious in any tweets made that included Rasmus in contrast to the tremendous run the Cardinals made to get into the playoffs in 2011 and the serendipitous post season that followed. Colby Rasmus was ridiculed and lambasted with joy during that run. Why exactly?

Okay, it's easy to side with Tony La Russa and the Cardinals in that Colby Rasmus himself was the problem (followed closely by his dad). La Russa is one of the most successful managers in history. He's a sure-fire Hall of Fame kind of manager. And La Russa was an institution in St. Louis. But there are two things that are odd about saying that. First, everyone knows that other players have run afoul of La Russa. There was Ozzie Smith and Scott Rolen. How could anyone think that La Russa could not possibly have any blame in the Rasmus fiasco? Secondly, La Russa was not universally loved by the writers and fans of the Cardinals. So why then do all give Rasmus the villain hat? It is hard to understand.

Those who banged on Rasmus had plenty of fodder when the player went to the Blue Jays and bombed there for the remainder of 2011. See? Rasmus is a bum, right? But what if he wasn't? What if there is some fault in how he was treated in St. Louis? Can we at least entertain the possibility? John Lott of the National Post reported on a long press session Rasmus had yesterday. If you had to go by just the comments by Cardinal fans on Twitter yesterday, Rasmus blasted the Cardinals in his press session. After re-reading Lott's report over a few times, how do you make that conclusion? All this observer can see is a guy who lost his joy while playing for the Cardinals and wants to get it back.

After reading his words and his praise for Jose Bautista, is this observer the only one who could read between the lines and tell he didn't feel the same way about Albert Pujols? Can't anyone else see the angst in that Rasmus never felt comfortable playing for La Russa or was never given the belief that he belonged? From this vantage point, it's impossible to get past the fact that Colby Rasmus was given nothing but praise for his make up as a person before he was a Cardinal. Scouts loved him as a person and felt that his make up was one of his strengths. How did Rasmus go from those opinions to the opinions now openly expressed by people who support the Cardinals?

All this writer wants is for people to at least entertain the possibility that what happened in St. Louis with Colby Rasmus was not entirely the player's fault. That's all. There is the general belief here that there are always two sides of a story. Sure, there is a possibility that Colby Rasmus was the problem. But there is just as much of a possibility that he wasn't entirely. Can't we at least agree on that since none of us really knows?

It is hoped here that Colby Rasmus finds that joy again in playing baseball in Toronto and that he can fulfill his potential. Success is always much more fun to trumpet than failure. At least it is in this house.