It's never good to write when you're pissed off, but I'm making an exception. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and the situation in which I currently find myself could certainly be described as "drastic," if not "horrifying."
The Cubs are on the verge of signing Jim Edmonds off waivers, and I'm flipping out. How badly? Well, I was halfway through an extensive column concerning the Bulls coaching search, and there's a lengthy homework assignment in dire need of completion breathing down my neck, yet I've slid both to the back burner due to this pressing issue's grave level of importance. Yeah, it's that bothersome.
See, the hatred I feel for Jim Edmonds isn't of the fleeting variety. No, think Yankee fans' opinion of Manny Ramirez, or Red Sock fans' opinion of Alex Rodriguez. While Edmonds is hardly a Ramirez or a Rodriguez -- in terms of importance, impact or paycheck -- he certainly registers on the same scale -- the scale that measures the level of animosity felt towards a rival team's star player. I hardly think I'm the only Cubs fan with this sentiment, either.
In spite of Cub Nation's justifiable and genuinely passionate dislike of Jimmy the cry-baby, Jim Hendry is preparing to scoop the Padres' castoff from waivers as you read. And it makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe you think I'm overreacting. Maybe you think I'm simply voicing an immature and juvenile hatred of what used to be a sweet-swingin' lefty on a perennial contender. Maybe you think I'm needlessly clinging to an old, bygone grudge.
I'd love to disagree.
It's you with the problem; you're the one with the short memory, the one who cannot recall just how fervently Cubs fans hated the way Edmonds carried himself and played the game. Oh, and should you happen to have forgotten so much about Edmonds, it's likely the colors he wore slipped your mind as well -- they were red and white; just an FYI. Then again, that might not even mean anything to you.
What with the Cubs-Brewers rivalry taking priority over Cubs-Cardinals the past few seasons, (which hasn't been a surprise; the Brewers have been the much better team and an unsurprising consequence has been the Chi-Mil rivalry taking center-stage), Cubs fans forgetting exactly how much they should -- nay, need to -- hate the Cardinals seems to be a disturbingly growing trend. It is the pack of Redbirds from St. Lou, and not the Brew Crew from 90 miles northwards, that has earned and, more importantly, deserves, the full and frightening force of Cubs fans' abject hatred. (That's not to say the Brewers aren't rivals. It's just to say the Cardinals matter more -- always have, always will.)
So, as you might've gathered, I'm a bit cheesed about Jimmy the Whiner donning the blue pinstripes. And by "a bit," I mean "furious beyond accurate description." But, as badly as I might've led you to believe in the last few paragraphs, it's not only because a great deal of my childhood was spent rooting passionately against Edmonds and cringing after each one of his exaggerated-dive-after-the-catch-was-made catches made the nightly highlight reel. No, it goes a bit deeper than that. (See, I'm not just a ranting, grudge-holding lunatic after all. How could you ever doubt me?)
With Edmonds joining the roster, it's all too likely Felix Pie will be the odd man out; the man headed back to Iowa. Hey, maybe it's just me, (doubt it), but when a player has been teetering on the brink of legitimacy for some time now, nervously itching for regular at-bats, spending hours on end in the cage, undertaking the pains necessary for improvement, and wordlessly begging for a chance to play daily and prove his worth...doesn't it make sense to, y'know, maybe squeeze that guy into the lineup every once in a while? Maybe? Just a little? Based on Sweet Potato Lou's plan of action with Pie, one would reluctantly guess not.
What makes me madder than anything when it comes to Pie -- which is a really strong statement, because Pie is one of the many subjects that can redden my face in a hurry -- is that he's simply being wasted. I know he's young, and I know his best years are in front of him, but as for right now, his incredible talent is being squandered. The argument for sending him to Iowa -- though that argument seems to lose supporters with every trip back to Des Moines -- is that he's been given his chance, has proven he cannot hit left handed pitching (and is only slightly better against righties) and must make these improvements in the minors. Bullshit, say I! If he's going to improve, it's going to be under the careful tutelage of a major league hitting coach, it's going to be in the cages of a major league ballpark, it's going to be from watching and studying major league players work their craft around him. If you're scoring at home, AAA Iowa comes in at 0/3.
Pie's been sticking around at the major league level for a while now, though. He's been with the team for a good stretch, and, as I learned from my trip to Wrigley for Sunday afternoon's game, Pie has been working his ass off. During Sunday's rain delay, and before any other players had appeared on the field, Pie jogged out to the right field cages, spent a good 35 minutes out of sight, no doubt taking his hacks, then left only at Mark DeRosa's prodding -- I'm assuming DeRo needed to warm up too. Pie's spent handfuls of games on the bench, occasionally being used as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner, which has drawn good amounts of criticism. While I agree with those arguing for Pie's every day appearances in center, you have to know that the days he spends on the bench are filled with cage-sessions, fielding-sessions, and perhaps even film-sessions. He's not wasting away on the bench, he's learning and absorbing -- even though I'd rather him out in center and recieving regular AB's... you have to compromise somewhere. "Alright, you keep him on the ML team -- you don't have to play him every day -- just as long as he's not sent back to Iowa. Yeah, we can both live with that, can't we?" If only things could be that simple!
Well, as if things with Pie hadn't been botched badly enough... Adding Jim Edmonds to the situation certainly can do nothing but help, right? Justifiable sarcasm aside, another outfielder in the equation was quite possibly the last thing this team needed -- and if you add on Edmonds' age, (38), his thorough lack of hitting ability (.178 with the Padres in 26 games), his disconcertingly slow recovery from a recent calf injury, and, most importantly, the fact that he once terrorized the Cubs while wearing the enemies' colors, well, you've really made quite the awful, John Paxson-esque decision.
(You can't talk about the Cubs outfield without mentioning Reed Johnson, so I'll do that now. In spite of his average dropping from its previously astronomical heights to .256, he's been a great situational hitter, not to mention stellar defensively. The Pie-Johnson platoon was performing like a well-oiled machine, Mr. Hendry! The Cubs simply didn't have a pressing need at the washed-up, weak-hitting, ex-Cardinal position! What are you thinking!?)
Edmonds may allow Sweet Potato Lou to move Fukudome to the 2-spot, seeing as he's another lefty bat in the line-up to break up the righties; great. Edmonds may reconcile his differences with the Bleacher Bums that, at one time, considered him Public Enemy no. 1; perfect. Edmonds may rediscover his sweet lefty stroke, golfing more than a few gorgeous, towering homers onto Sheffield; fantastic. All of it, just dandy -- yet altogether unlikely, and nothing more than wishful thinking and hilariously ungrounded optimism.
The more realistic scenario is that of Edmonds dragging down the lineup, much like Soriano of last week -- the week before he began crushing leadoff homers like nobody's beeswax. Edmonds is booed ferociously in his first at-bat at Wrigley, proceeds to strike out and, in the coming days, fails to dazzle in the field -- which, perhaps, might be the worst part of all, seeing as Hendry has seemingly banked so much on the resurgence of his Gold Glove caliber efforts. Should this scenario carry out, it's fair to say Hendry would have enough common sense to cut Edmonds, direct him towards the door, and warn him that it has been known to hit ex-Cardinals on the way out. Let us pray for said scenario, even if an untimely Edmonds' K should cost the Cubs a rally or two.
All in all, the potential Edmonds signing has infuriated me to an incalculable degree. I care little about the potential for Edmonds' resurgence pending his -- unlikely -- recovery from injury. Sure, call me whiny. Call me immature. Call me a kid holding onto an irrelevant grudge from years past, whatever.
I'll still call him Jimmy the Crybaby, and it'll take a miracle for him to be considered a Cub in my book.