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Putting Edmonds’ Age in Perspective

Marlins v Cardinals

A couple days after the Jim Edmonds signing, I’m still struggling to find much of a reason to like the move.  I know it doesn’t make much sense — he’s coming in on a minor league deal that will pay him $800,000 if he makes the club, and he’s not being guaranteed a job coming out of spring training.  If it doesn’t work out, he’ll be let go without much of a problem.  But I can’t seem to shake this feeling that even if Edmonds isn’t impressive in Spring Training, he’ll take a 25-man roster spot away from someone who better deserves it.

A lot of my bad feelings about this move have to do with the fact that he’s 39 — and turns 40 in June — and hasn’t faced Major League pitching in over a year.  For a guy whose value these days comes solely from his bat, that could be a problem.  I’d be willing to bet that he’ll have trouble getting his bat up to speed for most of the spring.

We know that Edmonds is going to be one of the oldest players on the roster if he makes the team, but I didn’t realize what that meant until I started combing through Baseball Reference.  While he won’t be the oldest player on this year’s team — that would be Trevor Hoffman — he would be the oldest outfielder to ever get regular playing time with the Brewers.

Devon White was 38 in 2001.  John Vander Wal was 37 in 2003, and Robin Yount was 37 in 1993.  Mike Cameron was 36 last year.

Felipe Alou was 39 when he went 0-for-3 with the 1974 Brewers, and Hank Aaron was 42 by the time he finished his career but only made a few appearances in left field in his return to Milwaukee.

Edmonds won’t have the benefit of the DH spot, but for some reason was given the impression by the Brewers that he’d get the chance to start 4 or 5 times a week against right-handers while filling in when a corner outfielder needs a day off.  Ken Macha couldn’t possibly justify starting Edmonds in centerfield, considering how bad an alignment of Braun-Edmonds-Hart would be defensively.  Serving as the left-handed side of a platoon with Corey Hart would mean he’d get a bulk of the at-bats, and considering the Brewers are going to pay Hart over $4 million this year, I don’t think he’ll be sitting on the bench much.  If he takes any starts from Ryan Braun, we riot.

Could he surprise us and play like he did with the Cubs in 2008?  Sure.  But I wouldn’t say it’s likely, and given the team’s apparent aversion to having young guys on the bench — seemingly caused by the Brad Nelson and Chris Duffy experiences last year — it seems like a good bet that Edmonds will make the club, even if he doesn’t deserve it.

In the end, it looks like I’ll just have to shut up and accept the fact that this year, we’ll be seeing the oldest outfielder in team history make a few starts a week.  Excuse me, though, if I quietly continue to hope that the Edmonds move was only made to make Hart sweat as his contract dispute continues.