Performance-based play?

Trade rumors are swirling around Colby Rasmus like nothing else. Then comes the bombshell earlier in the week that Tony LaRussa will be going by performance to determine who gets playing time. What that means is that Rasmus is sitting more often and Jon Jayis getting more opportunities.

I supported that idea. I thought it was a good idea. I’d wondered aloud if maybe making Rasmus earn his starting job back would be the catalyst to get him focused.

Rasmus has just one hit since the All Star break and his hitting .133 in July. That follows up a .213 June and a .253 May. It’s been a slow decline for the former first round pick. One that has the rumor mills considering a change of scenery for the 24 year old center fielder.

His counterpart, Jon Jay, on the other hand is hitting .368 since the All Star break and an even .300 in July. Combine that with Jay providing more sound defense than Rasmus has been and you have yourself the makings of a mid-season starter swap, though LaRussa has been hesitant to call Jay the team’s new starting center fielder.

However, I was fine with everything until tonight’s game against the Pirates. It’s the top of the 9th inning and there are two out. Jason Motte came in to get the final two outs of the bottom of the 8th and the pitcher’s spot came up in the Cardinals’ half of the 9th. Up goes Motte to the plate for his fourth major league at bat. Before tonight, he was 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts. After tonight, he is 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts. Motte comes out to pitch the 9th, right? Wrong. P.J. Walters finds himself on the mound for the 9th inning with an 8 run Cardinals lead. At the same time, Colby Rasmus is substituted into the game in center field. That leaves me with more questions than answers. Why not pinch hit Rasmus if you’re bringing Walters into the game? Seems like a great opportunity to give him a pressure-less AB right?

There is zero reason why you let a middle reliever hit with Colby Rasmus sitting on the bench. Especially if you are going to put Rasmus into the game and replace the pitcher for the next inning. If you were keeping Rasmus out of the game, I understand that. But this move really makes me wonder. Really makes me think.

And the “performance plays” statement seems to have expanded beyond just the center field debate. Daniel Descalso now has 5 appearances at short stop in the 8 games since the All Star break. Could it have something to do with performance? Descalso is hitting .267 since the break and .344 in July. Meanwhile Ryan Theriot has been struggling lately, with just 1 hit since the break and hitting .170 in July.

On the final out of the game tonight, Descalso proved he can do everything you need him to do at short stop as he gunned out the runner on one of the longest throws a short stop can make.

You also have to wonder how much of an opportunity at second base Allen Craig will receive upon his return to St. Louis. He started his rehab assignment in Memphis tonight. He started the game against Oklahoma City playing second base and hitting third for the Redbirds. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI double before being relieved by Pete Kozma. If he hits like he has the rest of this season, a performance that would put him in the top-10 National League outfielders (with Holliday and Berkman), it should be a no-doubter who plays second base on a given night.