Edmonds ready to fly again

On Friday, the Cardinals announced they had signed outfielder Jim Edmonds, bringing one of their most high-profile player of the last 15 years back home to roost in St. Louis.

Well, maybe. It’s a minor league deal, meaning Edmonds isn’t on the 40-man roster and isn’t guaranteed anything beyond the opportunity in spring training to show what he can do. And even if he still has the skills, where Edmonds would fit in is up for debate. Matt Holliday is entrenched in left field, Colby Rasmus should own center field in 2011, and Lance Berkman is pencilled in as the right fielder.

With John Jay and Allen Craig as potential backups in the outfield, Edmonds will have to stand out to avoid being considered redundant, since he’s a left-hander, as are Rasmus and Jay, and Berkman is a switch hitter who does better from the port side. In addition, Edmonds will have to show that his Achilles tendon is fully healed.

But those are mere details at the moment. Edmonds is back playing for one of the two teams (along with the Angels) with which he is most associated. Fans of both squads—and really all baseball fans—should use this opportunity to remind themselves of the steller show Edmonds put on as a range-devouring center fielder for both franchises.

While it’s doubtful Edmonds will get much love from Hall of Fame voters when he becomes eligible for the ballot, his career was more impressive than most fans comprehend. He has a .903 career OPS and 132 OPS+ and ranks 63rd all-time in WAR among position players.

Given a decent amount of playing time in the upcoming season, Edmonds could reach 400 home runs (he’s currently at 393) and 2000 hits (presently at 1949), and he needs a single RBI and only two walks to reach 1200 and 1000, respectively, in those categories.

So although Edmonds will most likely only merit entry into the Hall of Very Good, he still brought a tremendous amount of skill—and possibly even more showmanship—to the game of baseball. One last awe-inspiring catch would be great to see, but if not, thanks for the memories, Jim.

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Greg has been a writer and editor for both The Hardball Times website and Annual since 2010. In his dreams, he's the second coming of Ozzie Smith. Please don't wake him up.

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