Now that the Colby Rasmus thing is a general concern again, instead of a very specific one, I can share a split I discovered while researching yesterday's SB Nation St. Louis post on the subject: Colby Rasmus hit .340 (or .333, if you ask Fangraphs) last year on ground balls, for an sOPS+—the OPS of that split compared to the league on the same one—of 208. His batting average was fourth among Major leaguers with at least 100 ground balls, behind speedsters Drew Stubbs, Rajai Davis, and, uh, Miguel Olivo.
So when Colby Rasmus does hit ground balls—and he does it far less often than players like Stubbs (150 AB), Davis (212), or league leaders Ichiro (335) and Derek Jeter (364!)—he'll probably be good at it. He's left-handed, he hits the ball hard, he runs fast. But aside from hitting even more line drives I'm not sure Rasmus isn't already maximizing his effectiveness as a hitter with his current batted-ball mix. Using the same tiny sample-sizes, Rasmus hit .318 with a slugging percentage of .861 on his 155 fly balls last year.
Ichiro is great at converting ground balls into hits—.305 in his career—but he only hits .162 on fly balls. So far Rasmus has shown himself to be pretty good at both, and if that's the case he's doing the right thing right now. Hit some home runs, get on base via the walk, and try not to squirm when Dave McKay gives you a post-infield-single back-rub.
Meanwhile, Derrick Goold knows how to get me to link to his Twitter: Pro-Brendan Ryan speculation. Blockquote:
Just speculation, of course, but I wonder if #stlcards FO has high value on B-Ryan so they can claim they tried trade, and get to keep him.
This is the heretofore-waning Mozeliak-is-one-of-us position on the front-office/on-field machinations, sketched out in miniature. I would be very happy if it were the case.
But I'm not sure if it's even necessary. If the Cardinals got Ryan Theriot for Blake Hawksworth, a 28-year-old with a nice change-up and a 2010 ERA of 4.98, what were they expecting to get from a player they value less, and who was run out of town nearly as completely as the DFA'd Theriot? At what position, at this point, would the Cardinals be upgraded by a slightly higher-upside version of Blake Hawksworth?
It's the middle infield, and that's all. And that's why this rush to trade Ryan has always been so strange. The only move to make would be a challenge trade for another shortstop, and the kind of shortstop they want would be, in all likelihood, a high-upside, high-risk guy exactly like Ryan who might sit on the bench but might also be an upgrade on safer, duller Theriot and Schumaker.
That would be fine if the Cardinals could find one they like better, but most teams aren't nearly so pissed off at their version of this guy as the Cardinals happen to be. I'm not sure how a Ryan trade would work without being an obvious downgrade; and given that likelihood, I hope Mozeliak has the guts not to make the move, whether he wants to trade Ryan or is secretly trying to sabotage the whole thing.