'Spoiled' Rasmus could be a steal for Blue Jays

The Blue Jays believe they have their centre fielder for now and for the future in Colby Rasmus....

The Blue Jays believe they have their centre fielder for now and for the future in Colby Rasmus. (JARED WICKERHAM/Getty Images/AFP)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

TORONTO - You don’t get a Devon White unless a Doug Rader tires of trying to make him a big leaguer.

You don’t get a Yunel Escobar unless a Bobby Cox gives up on what he deems to be bad attitude.

You don’t get a prospect like Brett Lawrie unless the team that drafted him becomes exasperated by his brazen immaturity.

You don’t even get a Scott Rolen, veteran that he is, unless the legend Tony LaRussa tires of butting heads on a daily basis.

And now the Blue Jays, in this case Alex Anthopoulos and staff, strike again grabbing the young, talented and mythically challenged Colby Rasmus from the St. Louis Cardinals, ostensibly because LaRussa couldn’t deal with the “spoiled” centre fielder anymore. The word “spoiled” is LaRussa’s word, not mine.

LaRussa had difficulty with Rasmus, difficulty with his father Tony’s interference, problems with what he considered a kid he couldn’t get to.

Devon White was supposed to be just like that once upon a time, quiet, sullen, difficult, maybe one-dimensional. That’s what his manager in California believed (the same guy who soured on Tom Henke in Texas). And all the Jays gave up to acquire White along with Willie Fraser was Luis Sojo and Junior Felix. That is what you’d call a genuine steal.

This could be too.

The Jays gave up numbers for Rasmus, but nothing (OK, maybe Zack Stewart) you’ll look back at a decade from now and wonder: How did Anthopoulos make that trade? What was he thinking?

This was a deal he pushed to make, had to make, and based on the Blue Jays history, the kind of deal they need to exploit to get that contender status they so often talk about.

Sometime Thursday, before the game against the Baltimore Orioles, Anthopoulos will invite Rasmus into his office and have what he calls the “elephant in the room” conversation with his new centre fielder. They will talk about everything, what happened in St. Louis, what didn’t work out with LaRussa, how his father had interfered with his career and at least publicly hindered his son’s reputation, how at age 24 as an untouchable a year ago he was suddenly available for a veteran starter and some bullpen specialists.

Anthopoulos will put all his cards on the table, try and get a genuine understanding of Rasmus, and then tell him the canvas is clean and it’s his time to paint. Rasmus will be given the fresh start every young player deserves and in this case probably requires, with the hope being the 24-year-old starts playing like the 23-year-old did a year ago.

Anthopoulos had similar meetings with Escobar and the prized prospect Lawrie upon acquiring both. He even hinted there were similar concerns with Jose Bautista when he arrived in Toronto, but they’ve been blown away by who and what he is. Anthopoulos has the meeting. And that’s it. The conversation ends there.

“We all have warts,” said Anthopoulos. “I have them. Everyone in this room does. It all comes down to what type of human being are you. Are you bad person?

“And at the end of the day, you might be flashy or arrogant or you might not run hard all the time. But if you’re a good person, it comes down to getting the most out of you. If you’re a bad human being you’re just not going to be right for this organization. With Brett, with Yunel, they’re great kids, they’re great human beings, they care. Did they make mistakes? Do they always do the right thing or say the right thing? No. To their core, though, they’re very good human beings. Same thing with Colby. They’re young kids.

“I don’t know exactly what went on in St. Louis but we know this is a good kid.”

And the Blue Jays believe they have their centre fielder for now and for the future. Assuming Lawrie can play third base, and can play period, it means the Jays can go forward with a first baseman, a shortstop, a third baseman and two outfielders they can contend with. That’s one more starter than they had yesterday. By any plausible definition, assuming there is no Lindros in this kid, that’s a good thing.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonsteve


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