Blue Jays Nostalgia: Looking back at the Colby Rasmus era

Evan Stack
2 months ago
We remember the trades to acquire Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and R.A. Dickey from the mid-2010s, but there was another deal made prior to all of those for an outfielder who called Toronto home for a few seasons. That man was Colby Rasmus.
Rasmus was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft. He made his major league debut in 2009 and would spend parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, including one postseason appearance in his rookie year. During the 2011 season, the Cardinals were looking to supplement their roster with some pitching in order to prepare for the late-season playoff push. In the middle of those talks was Rasmus, and the Blue Jays wanted in on those conversations.
On July 27th, 2011, prior to the conclusion of the trade deadline, the Cardinals traded Ramus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays in exchange for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski.
The trade was one thing, but the backstory to Rasmus and the Cardinals was another. Rasmus and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa unfortunately had a flawed relationship, so much so that Rasmus had reportedly requested a trade during the 2010 season. La Russa had publicly criticized Rasmus, saying that “he doesn’t listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that’s why he gets in these funks.”
La Russa was also weary of outside voices trying to coach Rasmus up, with the main suspicion that that “somebody” could’ve been his father, Tony Rasmus. Tony said that La Russa needed pitching, so he “belittled Colby to the fans” so that he could use Rasmus as a trade piece. He also predicted that other Cardinals players were bound to wonder who La Russa was going to pick on next.
Anyways, the past is the past, and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous was excited about the acquisition of Ramsus.
Rasmus would fit right in over the course of his four seasons in Toronto. For instance, he pissed off the Texas Rangers on July 19th, 2014, reaching on a bunt single against Rangers starter Colby Lewis. Lewis was visibly seen shouting, “Swing the bat!” It would’ve been more understandable if Lewis was working a no-hit bid, but that was not the case. Rasmus would defend himself after the game, stating that he did not break any unwritten rules.

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He was also a key cog in clinching Toronto’s last series sweep at Tropicana Field. On September 4th, 2014, Rasmus smoked a pinch-hit solo home run to break a scoreless tie in the 10th inning, clinching the three-game sweep and creating a memorable date for those who dislike the Trop. He was also a part of a unique at-bat on May 27th, 2013, as he faced his little brother, Cory, in a game against the Atlanta Braves. Colby got the best of Cory as he doubled to left field, marking his second extra-base hit of the game.
Rasmus would conclude his Blue Jays tenure with a .234/.295/.433 slash line with a .728 OPS, 66 home runs, and 194 RBIs. His best season came in 2013 when he posted an .840 OPS across 118 games with 22 homers and 66 RBIs. Towards the conclusion of the 2014 season, the Blue Jays were giving Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, and Anthony Gose a majority of the starts in centre field, and Rasmus only played one complete game in the month of September. He was approaching free agency, and it became more and more clear that he would not be returning to Toronto.
Although he wasn’t re-signed, Rasmus had nothing but high praise for the Blue Jays and their coaching staff. In an interview with Sportsnet’s Barry Davis back in 2012, Ramsus said the staff was “real upbeat, real positive, you know? Not a whole lot of negativity. And with the team, you know, everybody just goes out there and does their thing, and not so much worried about little nitpicky things, which makes it a lot lighter, so that smile could come out a little more.” He also added that in St. Louis, he always felt uncomfortable.
While he did enjoy Toronto a lot, he did admit in 2015 that in Houston, he could drive his big trucks around. “My big trucks will fit in the big city,” Rasmus said. “In Toronto, you got a little bitty garage, and I had to leave my big trucks at home.
Why Houston, you may ask? Nine years ago to the day, Rasmus signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Astros prior to the 2015 season. He hit a career-high 25 home runs in 2015, but his real standout performance came in the playoffs later that season. The Astros snuck into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, and Rasmus’ solo home run (called by then-ESPN’s Dan Shulman) in the Wild Card game off of Masahiro Tanaka turned out to be the game-winning home run in a 3-0 defeat.
Rasmus would hit three more home runs in the Divisional Round against the Royals, making his 2015 playoff slash line .412/.583/1.117 with a 1.760 OPS, four home runs, six RBIs, and seven walks.
At the conclusion of the 2015 season, he became the first player ever to accept a qualifying offer, returning to the Houston Astros for the 2016 season. After a couple of short stints with the Rays and Orioles in ’17 and ’18, Rasmus would conclude his baseball career.

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