Edmonds returning to the place where he gained fame in the club’s halcyon mid-2000s run may conjure up glorious, romantic thoughts, but as a sound move for the current team, it makes little sense.
We have yet to read a compelling reason for Edmonds making the team, and in fact have run across some rather bad ones. Let us clarify:
- Edmonds should never take plate appearances (or fielding appearances) from Colby Rasmus. At this point in his career, Edmonds offers no skill advantage in any category over Rasmus. The only reason he could play center is if Rasmus gets injured.
- Even if Rasmus gets hurt, Edmonds isn’t the man for center. Jon Jay is. The projections give Jay a slight advantage with the lumber, and he’s most likely better with the leather. And of course, he’s a lot more durable.
- Edmonds doesn’t upgrade the team’s “defensive profile,” because the Cardinals have better options for late-inning defensive replacements. At first glance, Edmonds would appear to be a candidate to replace Lance Berkman in right field in late innings. But if Tony La Russa deploys his “hands team,” he has better alternatives, namely Skip Schumaker. Schumaker (or Jay) in right and Theriot/Punto/anyone at second base is a double upgrade over Edmonds in right and Schumaker at second.
- Edmonds probably can’t hit lefties anymore. Once impervious to lefthanded pitching, Edmonds has been increasingly declining against them recently, widening his platoon differential. Nowadays, he’s merely a LOOGy magnet.
- Edmonds probably isn’t the best mentor for Rasmus. How quickly people forget Edmonds’s petulance and soap-opera relationship with La Russa. And how wise is it to use one of their roster spots for a mentor? Why not hire him as a coach instead?
Adding Edmonds would simply continue the cult-of-personality movement that the Cardinals have begun this winter, in which the team has prized likeability over productivity. The only skill that Edmonds offers as a useful asset over what the Cardinals already have is pinch hitting against righties. But unless La Russa for some reason decides to use fewer pitchers than he has in the past, the Cardinals need more than that from their 25th man.