Be afraid, be very afraid

Posted on May 12, 2008 in Andy, Karry Ling | 35 comments


Good boy!  Good boy!The day that the Padres announced that they were releasing Jim Edmonds and his .178 batting average, his declining outfield range and his suitcase full of mascara I started to worry a little bit.

Edmonds, so full of veteran moxie and gamertude that old-school GMs like Walt Jocketty, Jim Hendry and apparently Kevin Towers eat up. Jocketty had signed Edmonds to a contract extension that he didn’t deserve after the 2006 World Series, and Towers had paid him actual cash money after last season when it was clear that Edmonds had nothing left. What, I worried, was there to stop Jim Hendry from going bobbing for a-holes and coming up with Edmonds?

Then, suspicions were confirmed when Seabiscuit’s Jockey reported that the Cubs “were exploring the possibility” of bringing Lassie to town.

Guh. This makes sense in so many ways, but only to Jim Hendry.

1. The Cubs would like to send Felix Pie to AAA for a while, but doing so makes Reed Johnson the everyday centerfielder with no real backup. Sure, you can move Fukkake over to center in a pinch, but that puts Mark DeRosa in right and Mike Fontenot at second and if Lou’s already taken DeRosa out of a game then you have Daryle Ward in right, and even though Major League Baseball will let you pinch run for Daryle, they don’t give you a courtesy outfielder to use for him out there.

So, the only option is to find a backup centerfielder. There isn’t much freely available out there. The great Sam Fuld is hitting .213 in Iowa, career minor leaguer Andres Torres is hitting .342 but he’s no Trenidad Hubbard. Guh.

2. Edmonds would come cheap. The Padres are on the hook for the rest of the $5 million they signed him for this year, so the Cubs only have to pay him the league minimum.

3. He can platoon with Johnson who bats righthanded.

4. He’s a great defensive outfielder, so even if his offense is in the crapper, he still has value.

5. He’s a “winner.”

OK, now let’s cut through the bullshit, shall we?

1. Honestly, Andres Torres is better than Jim Edmonds right now. It says more about how bad Jim Edmonds is than how good Andres Torres is. Honestly, I couldn’t pick Andres Torres out of a police lineup, but I’ll bet you that Jim Edmonds couldn’t hit .342 at Iowa these days.

2. Most things that come cheap, are cheap.

3. Edmonds never could hit lefties. His career numbers against them are mediocre at best. He’s hit .254 against lefties (.297 v. righties), with an on base average of .335 (.393 v. righties) and a .438 slugging average (v. .559). But in recent years he hasn’t even hit righthanders. This year in 73 at bats against righthanders he ‘s hitting .192/.286/.247. Yes, his on base average, as bad as it is, is worse than his slugging percentage. Last year he didn’t exactly torch righties he was .268/.336/.419 against them.

Plus, if you actually platooned them, Edmonds would get most of the playing time. While Johnson hasn’t been Willie Mays out there, he’s done very well against lefties (.306/.373/.454), but his numbers against the righties that Edmonds would be facing are better than what Edmonds is likely to do (.266/.327/.380) against them, even with Edmonds’ supposed lefty-righty advantage.

Now, you could say that Edmonds doesn’t have to outperform Johnson, he just has to outhit Felix Pie.

As bad as Felix has been so far, he put up better numbers against righties than Edmonds did (hell, most pitchers have outdone Edmonds this year) .245/.317/.321. Yes, that’s Felix outhitting Edmonds by 53 points with higher on base and slugging percentages.

Nice upgrade.

4. Edmonds “was” a great defensive outfielder. But years of running into fences, needlessly slowing down to dive for otherwise routine balls and “hanging with best buddy Mark McGwire” (take that however you want to) have taken their toll. At this point in his career Andy Van Slyke (right now) probably has more range than Edmonds.

5. This is the one that’s most likely going to pique Hendry’s interest. Old Lassie’s a winner. He’s got some nice postseason numbers (in 61 postseason games) .277/.365/.523 with 13 homers, 42 RBI. That’s great. You know who else has nice postseason numbers? Mickey Mantle. He can’t play anymore either.

Frankly, I’d be more surprised if the Cubs didn’t sign Edmonds than if they did. On the message board I likened it to Ed Lynch signing Gary Gaetti in 1998. But honestly, Gaetti wasn’t nearly as shot as Edmonds. When the Cardinals waived him with less than 50 games left in the season Gaetti was hitting .265/.339/.454. Not great, but not terrible. Nobody knew he was going to go nuts and hit .320 for the Cubs in 37 games, but looking back, as unlikely as that was, it’s a lot more likely than getting anything out of Edmonds from here on out.

Just say no, Jim. Please. Do it for me.

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Remember back on April 16, 2004 when the Cubs won that wild game against the Reds on back to back homers in the ninth by Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou? That game contained another famous moment. When Dusty Baker’s Cubs batted out of order in the seventh inning. You remember Dusty going nuts and blaming the home plate ump for misinterpreting how he wanted to double switch Ramon Martinez into the game, and in the frenzy on the field Dusty threw his hat and all that crap?

Here’s how retrosheet had the seventh inning:

CUBS 7TH: Mercker grounded out (catcher unassisted); Martinez
led off the inning with a double and then the Reds protested
that the Cubs were batting out of order; Mercker, the proper
batter, was called out; Dusty Baker argued with the umpires but
was told that the call stood; yelling & screaming, he tossed his
lineup card on the ground and was ejected by Bucknor; Baker
threw his hat away, walked away and returned; he tossed his hat
again, stomped to the dugout and kicked some items in the on
deck cirle before finally leaving the field;
NORTON REPLACED
RIEDLING (PITCHING); Walker singled to left; Patterson doubled
to right [Walker to third]; REITH REPLACED NORTON (PITCHING);
Sosa walked; Alou was called out on strikes; Ramirez doubled to
left [Walker scored, Patterson scored, Sosa to third]; Lee was
called out on strikes; 2 R, 3 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Reds 9, Cubs 7.

Well, guess what happened to Dusty’s Reds yesterday?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

The Reds batted out of order in the ninth. The play had no effect on the game. But it made for an embarrassing end to an ugly day.”That was my fault,” Baker said. “The lineup was right on the board and on my lineup card. But I didn’t catch it.”

(Hey, looks like Dusty is taking responsibility!)

David Ross went up to lead off the inning in the eight spot. Corey Patterson was actually in the eighth.

Ross flied to right. But after New York manager Willie Randolph pointed out the error, Patterson was credited with the out, and Ross was sent back up – after a 12-minute delay while the umpires sorted things out.

Ross singled this time.

“It’s up to players to check the board,” Baker said. “But it’s my job to make sure they’re in the right order.”

(Oops, I guess not.)

The Reds were operating without a bench coach. Bench coach Chris Speier was coaching third because third base coach Mark Berry went home to Arizona to be with his ill father.

But Ross should have known. He hit in the right spot in the seventh.

“I know,” Baker said. “I’m trying to cover things. It can happen. It doesn’t happen often. It worked out for Ross. Corey got an 0-for-1 without even hitting. He’s going bad enough. We don’t need that.

(‘It doesn’t happen often?’ Really, big leaguers batting out of order doesn’t happen often? And yet, it’s happened to your teams twice in the last four years, only three of which you’ve actually managed in.)

“As a manager, you take responsibility.”

(You mean you’re supposed to take responsibility. Doesn’t seem like you are.)