Posts Tagged ‘Jim Edmonds’

Jim Edmonds Ends Unofficial Retirement, Signs With Brewers

January 28, 2010

Yesterday, I talked about Jim Thome and whether or not he will be a Hall of Famer five years after he retires. The Thome HOF debate is certainly a fascinating one.

Another potential HOF candidate that will strike up a debate five years after he retires is outfielder Jim Edmonds.

One of Edmonds' many great catches

Edmonds is known as one of the better defensive center fielders of all-time. His acrobatic catches are stuff of legend. I still believe his back to the ball, giving catch against the Kansas City Royals as a member of the California/Anaheim Angels is the best catch I have ever seen by a center fielder.

Offensively, Edmonds has quietly amassed 384 home runs, a .284 average, and a .377 OBP. He is a four-time All Star and has two, top-five MVP finishes in his 16 year career.

It’s a classic argument of is the player SO great defensively, that it elevates him to HOF status even though his offensive numbers might not be there?

If you ask most St. Louis Cardinal fans, they will tell you Edmonds is a first-ballot HOF’er. The reality is, while Edmonds has had a nice career, the only way he will ever see the inside of Cooperstown will be if he goes with his family on a visit.

Now, I am sure I will get some less-than-friendly comments from Cardinal fans telling me how Edmonds is worthy of HOF consideration. Of course, it wouldn’t be a normal day without Cardinal fans crying or whining about something.

But Edmonds is not a HOF’er. He doesn’t have the offensive numbers. They are not even close. Defensively, while Edmonds was great, was he better than Devon White, Torii Hunter, or Andruw Jones?

The reason why Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith made and Omar Vizquel will make the HOF is because they were so much better defensively than anyone else who ever played their position. You can’t say that about Edmonds.

Whether you believe Edmonds is a HOF’er or not, there is no denying he was a very good player, for a good period of time. I thought Edmonds was going to be forced into retirement after not playing the entire 2009 season, but Edmonds isn’t done yet.

According to Tim Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, via Twitter, the Milwaukee Brewers have signed the Fullerton, CA native to a minor league contract. Edmonds can make $850,000 if he makes the team and another $1.65 million in incentives.

Edmonds last played in the majors in 2008 with the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs. It looked like his career might have been over with the Padres after hitting only .178 with one home run in 26 games.

Edmonds was released and found is second wind with the Cubs and was really good for them. He hit .256 with 19 home runs and had a .937 OPS in just 86 games. He certainly gave the Cubs a spark and helped them to the best record in the National League.

Why the Cubs or any other team for that matter didn’t at least give Edmonds a shot to make the team in 2009 always was a mystery to me. A team could have certainly used him against righties in a pinch-hitting role.

If Edmonds makes the Brewers out of spring training, he could be used in a pinch-hitting role against righties and a fourth outfielder. Edmonds really slipped defensively in 2008 (-14.1 UZR), so I would doubt the Brewers would use him in a platoon with newly acquired center fielder Carlos Gomez.

The Brewers have to grant Edmonds his release if he’s not on the major league roster by March 25th.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ thghostofmlg

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Cardinals To Go With David Freese At Third Base

January 8, 2010

Instead of going after free agents like Miguel Tejada or Felipe Lopez to play third base for them in 2010, the St. Louis Cardinals will go with an in-house option instead.

In an interview with KSLG 1380 radio in St. Louis, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak said the plan right now is to go with David Freese at third base in 2010. These are the type of options you have to go with when you have almost half your payroll tied up into three players (Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, and Chris Carpenter).

Freese will start for the Cards in 2010

So now that it appears Freese will be given every opportunity to win the Cardinals’ third base job in 2010, lets take a look at just who he is.

Freese was a ninth round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006 and a year later was traded to the Cardinals for Jim Edmonds (I’ll check that one off as a win for the Cardinals) Edmonds was useless in San Diego and was released in May after only hitting .178 in 26 games.

Freese on the other hand, has impressed at every stop in the minor leagues.

In four minor league seasons, Freese has a career .308 average and a .384 OBP. In 2008 for Triple-A Memphis, Freese hit .306 with 26 home runs and a .910 OPS in 131 games.

That is pretty impressive.

Freese’s 2008 season in Triple-A was so impressive that he earned a spot on the Cardinals’ opening day roster in 2009. Freese however, struggled at the major league level in April hitting only .158 in 22 AB’s.

Freese was sent down and once again tormented Triple-A pitching. In 56 games, Freese hit .300 with 10 home runs. He was called back up in September and hit .583 with a home run in 12 AB’s.

Defensively, based on his minor league stats, Freese should be an above average defensive third baseman in 2010. He also has some experience playing first base if the Cardinals should ever decide to give Pujols a day off.

Going into 2010, Freese ranks fifth amongst the Cardinals’ top-10 prospects according to Baseball America.

In order for the Cardinals to compete at a championship level now and in the future, they need low-cost prospects like Freese, Daryl Jones, and Colby Rasmus to step up and make solid contributions.

Rasmus made a solid contribution to the Cardinals in 2009 by hitting 16 home runs and playing a very solid center field. There is no reason to think Freese can’t follow in Rasmus’ footsteps and make a solid contribution for the Cardinals in 2010.

Freese will go into 2010 as an early National League Rookie of the Year candidate.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Chicago Cubs Find Their Center Fielder, Sign Marlon Byrd

December 31, 2009

Center field as really been a black hole for the Chicago Cubs during the 2000’s.

They started off the decade with the legendary Damon Buford and over the last 10 years have had players like Gary Matthews Jr., Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, and Kosuke Fukudome patrol center field.

Either players they had playing center weren’t very good overall (Patterson), or not very good defensively (Soriano), or were a short-term solution (Edmonds). Today, the Cubs hope they have finally found a long-term solution to their center field problems–at least for the next three years.

According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago, the Cubs have signed former Texas Ranger Marlon Byrd to a three-year, $15 million contract. Not a bad start to the new year for Byrd.

Byrd is the latest Cubs' CF

I hate sitting on the fence with these type of free agent deals, but I am very torn on this one. Half of me sees the positives to this deal and the other half sees the negatives.

As far as the positives go, I definitely see a few.

First and foremost, the contract is not an albatross. A three-year deal at essentially $5 million a year will not break the Cubs’ bank. What’s the harm in paying your starting center fielder $5 million a year?

Second, the signing of Byrd allows Fukudome to move to his natural position of right field. Fukudome looked out of place in center last year and this move will improve the Cubs’ outfield defense.

Byrd isn’t the best defensive center fielder in the world, but having him in center and Fukudome in right is an improvement over Fukudome in center and Milton Bradley in right.

Lastly, Byrd is coming off a career year with the Rangers in 2009. Byrd hit .298 with 20 home runs and played in a career high 146 games in 2009.If Byrd can produce those numbers with the Cubs, then this is a great deal for the Cubs.

And it’s with that last paragraph, where I start having my doubts about Byrd.

Haven’t we seen this act play out before us time and time again? A mediocre player has a career year in his free agency year, earns a nice contract, and then never lives up to that deal.

That scenario has been a time honored tradition in baseball for the last 25+ years.

Byrd’s only other year of significance in he majors was back in 2003 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played in 135 games that year hitting .303 with seven home runs, a .784 OPS, and 11 stolen bases.

Since that year, Byrd has been a fringe starter/forth outfielder with the Phillies, Washington Nationals, and Rangers. Byrd never lived up to the hype that made him one of the Phillies’ top prospects in the early-2000’s.

Ironically for me, Byrd has a lot of former Cub Gary Matthews Jr. in him. Matthews too, was a fringe starter/forth outfielder for most his career, then had one great year with the Rangers in his free agency year, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed him to a huge contract.

Now Byrd’s contract isn’t nearly as bad as Matthews was, but the similarities are there.

Another concern I have about Byrd is his home and road splits. Last season in Texas, his home OPS was .873 and his road OPS was .740. That is a huge difference.

Byrd was the Cubs’ first big signing of the offseason and they will need a lot more than him to get where they need to be. I look at the Cubs’ roster as of today, and I feel it’s significantly worse than it was just two years ago.

Unless a lot of Cubs’ players have bounce back years in 2010, it looks like next year is going to be another frustrating one in Wrigleyville.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Cardinals Face Franchise Defining Offseason

October 13, 2009

Every year, whether a team won 90-plus games like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or a team’s season ended in April like the Washington Nationals, every team faces major offseason decisions.

Some decisions are solely made for the next season and some decisions can shape the course of the franchise for a years to come. Decisions can be made by trades, arbitration, and of course, free agency.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, they face an offseason of free agency that will define the course of their franchise for years to come.

The Cardinals have a myriad of impending free agents, including Matt Holliday, Joel Pineiro, Mark DeRosa, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, John Smoltz, Khalil Greene, and Todd Wellemeyer.

However, the most important free agent for the Cardinals is manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa’s contract is up at the end of the month and if LaRussa doesn’t come back, it could set the Cardinals’ franchise back for years to come.

LaRussa is a free agent

LaRussa is a free agent at the end of the month

LaRussa gives the Cardinals credibility and credibility usually means winning. When players come to play for LaRussa, they know they are in a winning environment. Top players always want to play for him (unless your name is Scott Rolen).

Just think about the course of events if LaRussa leaves.

If LaRussa leaves, then pitching coach Dave Duncan leaves. Duncan is just as important to the Cardinals’ success as LaRussa. Duncan, time and time again is able to take mediocre pitchers and turn them into winners.

Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Mike Moore, Dennis Eckersly, Jeff Suppan, and Chris Carpenter all had their careers turned around by Duncan.

That allows the Cardinals to spend their resources on offensive players such as Larry Walker, Jim Edmonds, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, and Albert Pujols.

Speaking of Pujols.

If LaRussa leaves at the end of the month, it could very possibly mean Pujols could leave after the 2010 season. Pujols is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and I would say right now there is an 85 percent chance he stays with the Cardinals.

If LaRussa leaves, then I would say that percentage goes down to 25. Pujols has only played for LaRussa in his career and has said that all he wants is for the Cardinals to put a competitive team on the field year after year. Pujols knows every year his teams have a chance of competing with LaRussa at the helm.

Do you think he is going to take a home-town discount playing for Eric Wedge (I am just throwing his name out there. He is not rumored to be going to the Cardinals if LaRussa leaves) or some second rate manager?

That is why LaRussa coming back is so important. Him leaving sets off a chain of events that could set the Cardinals into rebuilding mode after the 2010 season.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., GM John Mozeliak, LaRussa met for two hours yesterday reviewing the season.

It will be interesting to see what happens with LaRussa. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on LaRussa coming back and signing a new deal with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Cubs Offseason Moves Puzzling….

February 27, 2009

At the end of every offseason your favorite team will fall into 4 categories:

1. Improved team through free agency spending. Yankees & Braves

2. Improved team through trade(s). A’s & Royals

3. Kept quiet, not making any major signings or trades. Cardinals

4.Traded players and lost players to free agency because team is rebuilding or economy affected the team. Padres & Astros

The Chicago Cubs, fresh off of a 97-win season somehow managed to fit into all 4 categories. They signed free agents and made trades, but let some of their top free agents go. Thus, making the Cubs offseason truly puzzling. Let’s take a look at some of the players the cubs brought in this offseason and who they replaced from that 97-win team.

Closer

In – Carlos Marmol, Cubs 8th inning set-up man in 2008

Out – Kerry Wood, Signed free agent contract with Indians

Analysis – Carlos Marmol takes over for Kerry Wood as the Cubs closer. This is either going to end up very good or very very bad. There will be no gray area with Marmol. Some guys can make the transition from 8th inning set-up guy (Krod, M. Rivera) and some guys can’t (Benitez, Dotel). I just don’t see it from Marmol. I am going to put him in the Benitez, Dotel class.  Before you start disagreeing with me, remember this. Marmol in save situations in 2008 had a 3.22 era. In non-save situations, his era was 2.11.

Set-Up Man

In –Aaron Heilman/Kevin Gregg, both acquired via trade

Out –Carlos Marmol, promoted to closer

Analysis –Failing to re-sign Wood created a ripple effect in the Cubs bullpen. Marmol replaces Wood and Heilman and Gregg will attempt to replace Marmol. Heilman, was actually traded twice this offseason. First to the Mariners and then of course to the Cubs. After being one of the top set-up men in the game from 05-07, Heilman had a meltdown last year with the Mets. A 5.21 era and 46 bb in 76 innings put Heilman in the doghouse.

Gregg, was having a solid season for the Marlins last year until he melted down in August. An 0-4 record with a 10.12 era earned Gregg a demotion from Marlins closer to set-up guy. The Cubs acquired 2 guys who had meltdowns last year. It will be interesting to see how both Heilman and Gregg react when they blow their first 8th inning lead and the Wrigleyville faithful boo them off the mound.

2nd Base

In – Aaron Miles, signed as free agent/Mike Fontenot, bench player in 2008

Out –Mark DeRosa, traded to Indians for 3 minor leaguers

Analysis – This is where the Cubs offseason gets interesting. Cubs GM, Jim Hendry traded the heart and soul of the team last year for 3 minor leaguers. Not only was DeRosa the heart and soul but he also was one of the Cubs MVP’s last year if not the MVP. DeRosa hit .285/21/87/.376 and played 2b, 3b, lf, rf, ss and 1B last year. He replaced Soriano in LF when Soriano went on the DL, he filled in for Fukodome when he was struggling and he gave Ramirez a day off at 3B from time to time. No matter where DeRosa played, the Cubs’ lineup never suffered. How do you trade one of your MVP’s from the year before, in what seems like a salary dump and then go ahead and sign Aaron Miles to a 2 year $4.9MM deal? Just doesn’t make sense. Though Miles can play 2b, ss, 3b and all 3 OF positions, he just can’t match DeRosa’s offensive output. In 6 seasons, Miles has 16 hr and 170 rbi. I am completely puzzled by this move.

Center Field

In – Reed Johnson, 4th OF on Cubs in 2008

Out –Jim Edmonds, free agent remains unsigned

Analysis – The Cubs signed former Cardinal, Jim Edmonds in May and he gave them the spark they were looking for.  Edmonds hit 19 hr with 49 rbi in 85 games. Unless the Cubs resign Edmonds right before the season starts, they will go into 2009 with Reed Johnson as their starting CF. Johnson to me seems more like a great role player and bench guy rather than a starting CF on a team trying to win the pennant. Johnson has never had more than 12 hr and 61 rbi in a season.

Right Field

In – Milton Bradley, signed as free agent

Out –Kosuke Fukodome, 4th OF for Cubs in 2009

Analysis – If the Mark DeRosa trade was puzzling, the Milton Bradley signing defies logic. Give a guy a 3 year $30MM contract to play RF who has only played 23 games in RF the last 2 years and is injury prone? This signing could be a disaster. Who would you rather have…Bobby Abreu for 1 year and $5MM or Milton Bradley for 3 years and $30MM? I would rather have Abreu. The odd man out in the Cubs OF shuffle is Kosuke Fukodome. After having a dismal 2nd half in 2008 (.217/3/22) Fukodome found himself in Piniella’s doghouse. A place were Fukodome may never get out of.

I tought Fukodome deserved a 2nd chance. Remember, it was Fukodome’s patience at the plate (81 BB in 2008) that was contagious throughout the Cubs lineup early in the season. Plus, he is a much better defensive player than Bradley. Piniella is a great manager but one of his faults is when a player get’s into his doghouse, there are no 2nd chances. Just ask Rich Hill.

As you can see, this Cubs offseason has been very puzzling. In my opinion, an offseason where the Cubs have gotten worse. I do believe the Cubs will win the weak NL Central this year but is team better than last years version of the Cubs? Based on the offseason, it might be 101 years without a title in Wrigleyville.