On Friday the St. Louis Cardinals announced they have signed former Redbird Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Edmonds is the latest veteran to be signed as a competitor for one of several roles younger players from the Cards’ system were penciled in to take.
So maybe depth no longer seems to be an issue with this team.
Edmonds is no longer the player he was as part of the “MV3” with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen in the middle part of the 2000s. But with a 2010 slash line of .276/.342/.504, 11 home runs, and 23 RBI in 246 Abs with the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, Edmonds proved he still has something left in the tank. Still, if “Jimmy Ballgame” does make the Major League team, what will his role be?
The Cardinals already have three outfielders, two of which bat left handed. Yes, Lance Berkman is a switch-hitter, but historically he has been much more potent from the left side. The conspiracy theorists out there will say this is a Tony LaRussa request (demand?) so he has someone to put in center when he benches Colby Rasmus for annoying him. But I really think more is going on here.
John Mozeliak defused the Rasmus trade saga by reminding the world that the young centerfielder represents a good, cost-controlled player. The Cards don’t give those up easily, especially at the behest of a manager who constantly appears to be on the verge of retiring. Plus, if the team does ink Pujols to a new deal, they will probably also need to buy out some of Rasmus’ arbitration and free agent years with a multiyear contract that will allow cost and lineup certainty. Rasmus going anywhere seems laughable at this point.
Enter Edmonds, who is probably the best centerfielder the Cards ever had. And Rasmus needs, for lack of a better term, mentoring while out in the field. Sometimes his routes are questionable, and sometimes his throws are scary. Perhaps Edmonds can get in the ear of Rasmus where others—especially LaRussa—have stumbled.
Plus the Cards need the potential of Edmonds’ bat of the bench. His numbers from last year would be a great addition to this team, and the Cardinals could do a lot worse than him in the spot starts LaRussa loves to spread around. I mean, who would you rather see in the lineup…him or Randy Winn?
I like this move by the Cards. Let’s hope Edmonds is in good enough shape to make the team and has enough left to play the entire season as the 4th outfielder. And although this may push Jon Jay down the depth chart a bit, he too can learn a lot from Edmonds.
Besides, if Edmonds is going to play and get that 400 home run milestone, I think we can all agree it would be great to see him do it wearing the Birds on the Bat.
Welcome home, Jimmy Ballgame.