Some batters and pitchers on the other teams in your fantasy baseball league are becoming real drags. A few MLB players on your fantasy baseball team are performing better than you expected. Is it time to move in? KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading series is your accomplice when it's time to do shady business in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game.
Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals
In 2009, he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball. In 2010, he showed some of the potential by averaging a home run every 20 at-bats.
Expectations were relatively high in 2011, and he started hot right out of the gate, hitting .301 in March and April with three home runs and three steals. Since then, however, it's been downhill, especially in July; he has just five hits in 41 at-bats and continues to lose playing time to the surprising Jon Jay.
Want Rasmus? He's all yours.
Manager Tony La Russa has had issues with Rasmus in the past, most recently implying that he's listening to his father rather than taking advice from the team's hitting instructors. Rasmus is going to have to show something in order to get back into the everyday lineup. Is he up to the challenge, or will he continue to struggle?
Trade rumors are swirling around Rasmus, and the Cardinals have reportedly fielded calls about him from the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals. General manager John Mozeliak recently said adamantly that he is not shopping him and not looking to move him. But he also said, "... if something was overwhelming to our benefit, that we really felt like it was a win for the organization, we'd certainly pursue it." The Cardinals are looking for a pitcher, and if one of these teams swoops in offering quality arms for Rasmus, the team will have to consider it.
There is also the possibility that Rasmus could end up in the minor leagues in order to spark some life and fix whatever is ailing him. A trip down to Class AAA Memphis could be just what Rasmus needs. We've seen that it can work in Travis Snider's case. Nobody with the organization has mentioned this as a possibility, but it's certainly an idea they can consider. Who knows if he would respond the same way as Snider, and with character questions surrounding Rasmus in the past, the team has to be worried it could damage his psyche.
This season, Rasmus has still shown patience at the plate with a walk rate of 11.5 percent. He has, however, seen a drop in his walk rate in the past two months; he's walked just 10 times in 146 plate appearances in June and July. He has brought his strikeouts down quite a bit, though: from 27.7 percent last year to 20.3 so far this year.
He's not swinging at more balls outside, but he is making more contact with those pitches (62.5 percent, compared to 56.0 percent in 2010 and 50.6 percent in 2009). A lot of the contact he's making may not be on his best swings. He's shown some power, but with nine home runs, not as much as last year. His slugging percentage is lower than expected, at .402, and after enjoying a BABIP of .354 last year, his .286 BABIP this year shows a drop in fortune, and it has dropped even more in July (.152). He has hit seven more infield fly balls than he had all of last year (in 140 fewer at-bats). He's clearly struggling at the plate.
Being put in a platoon by a manager who hasn't exactly showered you with love to go along with trade rumors swirling can be damaging to any baseball player's outlook. His situation is shaky right now, but if Rasmus can make better contact at pitches in the zone and lay off a few more balls, he could start to hit the ball harder.
There's a little statistical evidence of a possible turnaround, but even if he does, it's tough to measure how valuable the payoff would really be. If you have depth and can find someone who is willing to give him up for nothing, feel free to make a move. Otherwise, letting someone else worry about how the rest of Rasmus' 2011 turns out could be the smart idea.
About Rich Arleo
Rich Arleo is a Marist College alum who has been playing fantasy sports since he was 14 years old. He is a local editor with AOL's Patch.com and became a staff writer with Bruno Boys Fantasy Football in 2010 and a contributor to KFFL in 2011.
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