Shortly after the news that Mark McGwire would be leaving as hitting coach broke, the St. Louis Cardinals fans at Viva El Birdos began speculating about who would replace him. And because they're at VEB (we sponsor his Baseball Reference page, donchaknow), the conversation naturally turned toward Jim Edmonds. The logical replacement has always been John Mabry, and since word of the McGwire exit first came he's only become a more likely candidate. But shortly afterward came this news from local Cryptic Tweeter Joe Strauss:
There have been discussions about Edmonds expanding role with Cards. Could mean more time in camp. Could mean something else.— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) November 3, 2012
Which is exciting news for anybody who remembers the 2004 NLCS, or just likes baseball players who are particularly fun to watch. Assuming it's "something else," what, exactly, would Jim Edmonds do in the Cardinals' organization?
It's hard to say, if only because he seems like a natural fit as—well, hitting coach. Edmonds was a light-hitting seventh-rounder when he began his professional career, but as he developed, in the minors and majors, he moved to that distinctive, idiosyncratic uppercut swing and developed the plate discipline to walk 998 times in 2011 career games.
It looked odd—the stationary feet, the shrug backward, the long swing—but it was the work of someone who clearly loved hitting, and knew it well enough to remain a potent slugger until his body failed him at 41. His ability to gauge pitchers was always a topic-of-choice among the broadcasters, too; he was always given credit for noticing when pitchers, on the Cardinals or elsewhere, were tipping pitches.
Of course, he was also able to translate average speed into excellent outfield play into his late thirties, when most center fielders have long-since been moved to a corner. So it could just be that he's being brought in to teach Matt Holliday how to handle that play where the shortstop backs onto the outfield grass and he needs to be charging it instead of backing off...