Making Rasmus 'Plan A' in right field was foolish from the beginning - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Making Rasmus ‘Plan A’ in right field was foolish from the beginning

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Here’s the deal with the Orioles’ signing of outfielder Colby Rasmus in February:

It was fine in the club’s typical, throw-it-against-the-wall manner.

A minor league pact for a former everyday outfielder who had dealt with injury and a self-inflicted exile from the game in 2017.

Fine. Take a chance. Whatever.

But it never should have been more than that. It never should have been considered anything but a baseball lottery ticket on par with Alex Presley, Michael Saunders, et cetera.

Rasmus, who was placed on the restricted list Tuesday after informing the club he didn’t want to continue playing for personal reasons, shouldn’t have been Plan A for right field.

He was. And that was a huge mistake.

In late February, I had a conversation with an Orioles executive in which I sounded my drumbeat of the offseason: The Orioles needed to sign outfielder and leadoff hitter Jon Jay.

The exec’s response: “Then what do we do with Colby Rasmus?”

My response: “I don’t care what you do with Colby Rasmus. Leave him at Triple-A Norfolk and see what he can do since it’s a minor league deal. Let him exercise an out clause. Cut bait. It shouldn’t matter.”

Rasmus, I was told, was likely the Orioles’ starting right fielder against right-handers, maybe their full-time right fielder if all went well. That was why they signed him. Case closed.

I thought then — and I think it now – “What a terrible idea.”

Rasmus, 31, was coming off a season in which he was still dealing with a serious hip injury and had decided to leave the Tampa Bay Rays to get away from baseball for a spell. And they agreed to a $3 million deal with Rasmus that included the potential of $2 million more in incentives.

That’s like an expired lottery ticket.

Now, to be fair, Jon Jay would not have made this Orioles’ season a success. He’s had a good year – hitting .286 with a .352 on-base percentage for the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks – but Mike Trout couldn’t carry this woeful offense to a season of respectability.

Still, Jay and Rasmus received the same salary — $3 million for one year (though Jay’s was a guaranteed, big league deal).

Jay was good enough in 59 games with the awful Royals that they dealt him to Arizona for two minor league pitchers.

Rasmus played in 18 games with the awful Orioles – divided nearly in half by 10 weeks on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his surgically repaired left hip – and he hit .133 (6-for-45) with 19 strikeouts and one homer, which improbably came against Washington’s Max Scherzer.

The Orioles were hoping when he came back from injury that maybe they could turn him into a trade-deadline piece. But after that homer versus Scherzer in the first at-bat of his return, Rasmus had only three hits in his next 23 at-bats. That trade dream faded quickly.

Rasmus made roughly $1.5 million from the Orioles so far this season and is now headed back to his farm in Alabama.

He shouldn’t be blamed here, not really. He walked away from roughly $1.5 million instead of going through the motions. Heck, if he had continued to play poorly he soon would have been designated for assignment, passed through waivers and collected that paycheck without having to swing a bat again.

He deserves props for realizing it was time to hang it up. It saved the Orioles money and a 40-man roster spot. And we don’t know what went into his decision, so I’m never gonna judge someone for making such a personal call.

The Orioles’ front office – whether it was Dan Duquette or Brady Anderson or the Angelos family or whomever made the final call – is to blame here.

Never, I repeat never, should Rasmus have been considered the answer for the Orioles in right field. Not coming off the injury. Not coming off the uncertainty of him leaving baseball months prior.

When the Orioles signed Rasmus, I received a text from an executive in another organization that said, “Colby Rasmus? Does he even want to play anymore?”

I responded with two words.

“We’ll see.”

Five months later, the answer is no.

It wasn’t hard to see that coming.

The Orioles, however, took that risk — and foolishly made him Plan A.

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. centralscrutinizer

    July 4, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Buck should be blamed too, not just DD and BA. After all, it was Buck who visited him several years ago in the winter for whatever reason. Of course Rasmus signed somewhere else. I never understood the love Buck had for him. I am just a spectator, but can tell when a ball player just isn’t very good. One must wonder if this was Rasmus’ last rodeo, not sure anyone else will take a chance on him. But give Rasmus credit, he got $1.5M for nothing. I wish I could figure out how to do that legally.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Sure, Buck usually at least has knowledge of the signings. But he visited him a couple years ago to make sure he’d be OK with the personality. And he was. That’s just a prudent move. Can’t blame him for that.

  2. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    July 4, 2018 at 8:22 am

    What a total wreck of a decision. At least he let them off the hook by quitting for the second straight year. The guy has always been a flake, and not a particularly well-regarded teammate.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 10:14 am

      You know he is a quiet guy, definitely a different guy. But I’ve talked to some of his previous teammates, current teammates and other journalists who covered him at other stops. Bad guy was never uttered once. I think he is a solid guy and teammate. Just a little different.

  3. JCO

    July 4, 2018 at 9:46 am

    While I agree he wouldn’t be a season saver, he’s a bargaining chip for a decent prospect that we don’t have right now. Dan, you did a nice job of outlining a classic example of the problems with this organization.

    “Then what do we do with Colby Rasmus?”

    Good Lord. Hell, that’s all the problems with this organization all in one single quote.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Yeah. Once they committed, they committed. And I found that to be short-sighted.

  4. Tzuk

    July 4, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Dan-

    So there’s a way a player can honorably walk away from a contract when they can no longer perform and the club is off the hook? That could solve a lot of problems (wink wink). How can we use that more often?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I guess they need to start by not offering money that’s impossible to walk away from. 🙂

  5. Birdman

    July 4, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Is there a more dysfunctional ownership/front office combination in MLB than the Orioles? As your post indicates, its not clear who in this organization has authority to make even relatively minor personnel decisions.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

      Normally those are all Dan. But I’m not sure that is he case anymore.

    • Ekim

      July 4, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Another Douchette “winner” NOT!

    • Ben1

      July 4, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Boston writer called Os management dysfynctuonal. The reputation spread back to DD previous team.
      I hope Angelos family sees things the same way we see things. My concern is for the long term as this is the management that will negotiate for Machado et al.

  6. Orial

    July 4, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Your description of him made him to be a loner type. There’s absolutely no problem with that. He had the talents but baseball was not his calling. I wish him well. Let this be an organizational lesson and hopefully move on.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 11:52 am

      Yeah. Had no indication it was anything else.

  7. bickel57

    July 4, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I wish him well in his future endeavors. I hope he stays retired this time. If does return I hope he takes up coaching. I hope they bring up Stewart to take his place. I hope that Tillman takes a cue and does the same thing. He has been awful in all his rehab games. There really is no place for him in the majors or at least this team.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 11:56 am

      That decision is coming due. No question.

    • Ekim

      July 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      “There comes a time…” and for Tillman the time is now…

  8. MikeinFairfax

    July 4, 2018 at 11:17 am

    This raises questions in my mind as to what diligence was done on Rasmussen and who did it. We missed a major injury and a lack of desire to play. Did we sign Rasmussen because we weren’t sure we could sign Jay? Were we even trying to sign Jay?

    On a separate note, this is why I like this site. Fair and honest. Doesn’t pull punches but is fair and not harsh.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      Maybe. Cuz Rasmus signed first. But that shouldn’t have prohibited them from jumping in on Jay as the price dropped.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      And thanks so much for the note on the site. We try. And we like other opinions.

  9. PA Bird Lover

    July 4, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Here’s a major, major point, Dan. Signing Rasmus is the Orioles way. By their usual dilly dallying around, they missed out on Jay and settled for a player who quit last year. Baltimore Orioles, operationally speaking, are blundering idiots. Scouting has gone south, as has DD. Anderson is a mystery to me, from the standpoint of what’s his function. I shutter to think of this group taking a stab at the #1 pick, which surely will fall onto their laps. Even worse, the kids that have been drafted the last few years aren’t as talented as they thought. Look at the minor league standings. It’s going to be years before we see great baseball by the home team at America’s greatest ball park. That’s sad.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      Here is the deal. Things can turn around quickly in Baseball. There was LOTS of pessimism heading into 2012. The Phillies and Braves are good now. The Royals and Os are terrible. The Twins went from 100 losses to the playoffs. It’s the beauty of the game.

    • Jacobs1928

      July 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      U r right..if the O,s were a business whose performance equaled the Market what do u think would happen. The existing managers, especially those in control, would be
      Fired. These are the “losers” who are going to select the trade with the guys on the
      Market. Based on the past …Rasums, Jimenez, Davis, Cobb, etc they should not be
      There. The owners are lawyers …who do not know how to run business..Dan, I enjoy your writing however, all writers should be really writing about the incompetence of the O,s owners and management. That product the existing result
      In th O’s organization

  10. MikeinFairfax

    July 4, 2018 at 11:19 am

    P.s. I know it is Rasmus and not “Rasmussen”. Stupid spell check!

  11. SpinMaster

    July 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Dan: I have a theory about DD. After the courtship by Toronto after the 2014 season and the fact that DD really didn’t do anything to quell the rumors, I feel that the Angelos’ put DD under tight reins and DD is not really making any major decisions with BA’s (a.k.a Angelos) approval. It seems that DD is simply the front man for the organization who has to take the heat from the press and the fans while not having any real authority. I have never been a DD fan, but this theory makes sense given the inactivity on trades and the curious free agent signings where BA was the Oriole voice.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      I’m not sure the concept is off. But I think the reasoning is. I don’t think Angelos became more hands on with Duq after that. I think some health issues made him more hands off and his sons more involved. And they have a stronger relationship with Anderson. I think it was more evolution than directive.

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      July 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Peter Angelos is suffering from Alzheimer’s, a horrific disease. Why is this not being reported?

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      One, because I’m not sure that’s true. 2. Because individual health is a private thing.

  12. Mau

    July 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Does Rasmus have room on the farm for a few more?

  13. 54orioles

    July 4, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Showalter has to go. His thinking is stuck in the past. You can not build a championship team with former stars.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      Hold that thought. A new subject coming

    • 54orioles

      July 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Another point…..Showalter shows no emotions. In my opinion, this passes Dow to the players. If he doesn’t care why should they. The team needs a shakeup and all we get from Buck is seeing him shake his head when a questionable all is made against the birds. My life in him or the team. The Os need another Earl !

    • Dan Connolly

      July 4, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      For all the criticisms of Buck, not caring is probably the most off-base.

  14. ATCguy

    July 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    The reality is we’ve needed a REAL RFer ever since the O’s decided to pass on ‘Kakes, and he went off to ATL. At the time, I knew we’d miss his defense, but the offense numbers were inconsistent… so to me it was a wash. But the trouble is, they never really replaced him. All we’ve had since out there is a revolving cast of ‘might bee’ and infielders doing what they could out there.

    Now the problem is compounded by the fact that we really have no great outfielders anymore. Adam’s doing ok in CF, but his best days are behind him there… and unless he’s willing to sign for less money and move to a corner position, he’s gone next year. (At least I pray they don’t resign him w/ the intention of keeping him in CF!) Mancini’s been doin a so-so job in left, and even shown some brilliant flashes out there occasionally… but he’s really not an outfielder, and it shows occasionally.

    The left side of the infield is still a hot mess. 90% of the time it’s ok, but they still have trouble making a decent throw to 1st half the time, and whoever’s manning the bag has to dig out their errant attempts. Regardless, in a few weeks (days?) half of it is going away anyhow.

    Ok, I got off topic. Agree completely that signing Rasmus… while ok in itself… with him being “plan A” wasn’t a smart gamble. How anyone could say the team isn’t ripe for a complete & total rebuild… well, I’d hate to have to defend that position in a debate meet.

    So in addition to needing

  15. jkneps63

    July 4, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Okay, so maybe Chris Davis can join Rasmus at his “I don’t wanna play no mo” ranch – that would be awesome!!!

  16. Ekim

    July 4, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    A while back I asked what a Colby Rasmus was… no one answered… and now I’ll never know…

  17. GSISDANNO

    July 4, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Another bargain basement Orioles deal that blew up in their face, along with Travis Snider, Kim, De Aza Miley, Hellickson, Seth Smith, etc.

  18. Ben1

    July 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    DD or Anderson trying to get lucky. If plan A worked they got off cheap. Ended up being too cheap. Jay was cheap, too. Markasis really worth his contract. Oh well.

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