Thoughts on the return of Colby Rasmus - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Thoughts on the return of Colby Rasmus

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

WASHINGTON DC — Outfielder Colby Rasmus is back with the Orioles and is facing Max Scherzer Thursday night at Nationals Park.

And you may not be thrilled about that.

Frankly, I’m not even sure what to write/think. This could end up as a good thing for the Orioles. Or it could be a waste of roster space.

Because Rasmus had two hits and 13 strikeouts in 23 plate appearances his first time around with the Orioles in April before a flexor strain in his surgically repaired left hip sent him to the disabled list for two-plus months.

And because Rasmus will be 32 in August and doesn’t exactly fit the “play the kids” mantra that should be trumpeted by a team an acre away from first place in June.

And because Rasmus’ numbers weren’t eye-popping during his 20 days rehabbing at High-A and Double-A, but they were at least respectable — .275 average, .333 on-base percentage, .490 slugging, two homers, 10 RBIs. He had nine hits, including two homers, in his past 20 at-bats.

“Last three or four games he really seemed to find his step and feel comfortable,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s not an easy task to come back and face Scherzer, but it’s the big leagues.”

And these are big league decisions – decisions that are often based on finances and saving face on previous decisions.

In February, the Orioles felt like Rasmus would be an improvement for them in right field and from the left side of the batter’s box. And he only was healthy for eight games before hitting the DL.

Rasmus feels he’s healthy again – or healthy enough to make a contribution.

“I don’t think anyone in this room is totally healthy. We’re all playing with things. I had hip surgery and I’m not 21 anymore,” Rasmus said. “So, I have to think accordingly, act accordingly and do the things I have to do to prepare myself to get ready to play. That’s my goal every day. Try to get ready to play so I can help this team win and do the best I can on the field.”

He was signed to play against right-handers at the least – so roughly two-thirds of the time. And more if he hit lefties, too. That could still be the plan, Showalter said.

“It depends on him. If he presents himself well, that’s certainly a way we’d like to go,” Showalter said. “But there’s a lot of potential for things to go in a lot of directions. He controls it. If he does what we think he is capable of, that role is still there for him.”

That statement should stir up some dust. If Rasmus hits and plays good defense, he’ll play.

Remember, the Orioles signed him for $3 million in February, and I’m sure those who signed off on the move would like to see what he can do when healthy. Instead of just throwing $3 million away.

The other part of this is going to produce a laugh or two from the informed public, but it has to play into the Orioles thinking: Maybe if Rasmus plays well you can get something for him at the trade deadline.

Yes, I wrote that.

And you have to understand it’s relative.

But the Royals already have traded Jon Jay – a guy the Orioles passed on while pursuing and signing Rasmus – for two minor league right-handers. They are lottery tickets, but it’s better than nothing.

Rasmus might get you only one low-level minor leaguer – assuming Rasmus is heathy and playing well. Heck, he might get you nothing, and he might end up being cut or riding the bench.

The crime for some here is that Rasmus will be playing and younger outfield prospects are still in the minors. Flip side, though, is Cedric Mullins has struggled at Triple-A since his promotion, DJ Stewart has been OK, Austin Hays is injured at Bowie.

Frankly, the best Norfolk outfielder is Joey Rickard, who was sent back to Triple-A on Thursday when Rasmus was activated. And Rickard hasn’t been able to consistently hit in the majors.

So, on the surface, having Rasmus back doesn’t seem prudent for a club that doesn’t need to worry about wins anymore.

But maybe a good Rasmus helps get you another usable piece in the future. I guess that’s the best-case scenario here. And the worst-case, really, is just more status quo.

 

Update: You gotta love baseball. On Rasmus’ first big league at-bat since early April, he homers against Scherzer to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second inning Thursday. It was his first MLB homer since June 11, 2017 while with the Tampa Bay Rays.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dblack2508

    June 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    At this point, its all relative. The lack of over all depth at the minor league level is frightening.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 21, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Not frightening. But concerning

  2. Wilshade

    June 21, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Right Field has been a revolving door ever since they failed to re-sign Markakis. The baseball gods have cursed them for that.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 21, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Yeah, but what has Markakis done? No way he lasts four years.

  3. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    June 21, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I never liked the signing. There were better options like Jon Jay imo. DD apparently thought he was a better fit. Anyway this will likely be his last season here.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    June 21, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I don’t quite know that it’s a crime taking at bats away from Mullins, Hays and Stewart, whom desperate O’s fans have convinced themselves are Roberto Clemente, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker but who are really decent big league players at best. Theyll get theirs after the deadline. As to Rasmus, he came, he saw, he sucked. I give him til July 1st and if he isn’t lighting the world on fire he’s gone.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Yup. That’s the thing about prospects. Has to be done in the majors. Easier said than done.

  5. JParsley

    June 21, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Whatever

  6. jonniebmore

    June 22, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Maybe what they’re thinking is they will be trading everybody and they still have to field a team.
    So Rasmus gets some starts.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 22, 2018 at 11:24 am

      I think it is more about building his value. I doubt they deal many OFers. Only Jones will have legit trade value and he can block a deal.

  7. Chewy

    June 22, 2018 at 11:00 am

    It might be frustrating for fans, but the O’s are taking the right approach on Rasmus and all the other “veterans” who may have some trade value. If they get hot, they can be flipped. If not, the O’s lose more and have a better chance of drafting the next Machado. It might be a short term loss in terms of the fan experience, but it is a long term win/win. Adjustments in the approach can be considered after the July trades are made and again after the August trade deadline for playoff eligibility if some of the prospects are truly ready to be called up.

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