Chris Denorfia will be taking over uniform No. 15 for the Cubs this year, but he has yet to play a game for the Cubs, so I thought I'd take this installment in the series elsewhere, and for a specific reason.
Jim Edmonds was a Cub for not quite one season, but had quite an impact on the team. You might well remember the game from which the photo at the top of this post comes. It was a throwback-uniform game, the first such game they had ever played at Wrigley Field. The uniforms were from 1948 and the Cubs were honoring the 60th anniversary of WGN-TV's televising games. If you watched that game, you likely remember that they started doing the telecast in black and white and slowly moved it into modern color with replays, etc.
By the time Edmonds came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs down 2-1, it was in full color. And that's how viewers were watching when, with one out, Edmonds smacked a game-tying home run. The Cubs eventually won the game 3-2 in the 12th inning when Reed Johnson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
But back to Edmonds. When the Cubs signed him five days after the Padres released him in May 2008, I was adamant. He was "done," I said. And he sure looked "done" -- he had hit .178/.265/.233 in 103 plate appearances for San Diego with just one home run. As it turned out, he hadn't fully recovered from an ankle injury and even in his first 10 games with the Cubs he didn't hit much: .214/.241/.357 (6-for-28).
But then he started hitting, enough to become the (mostly) regular center fielder in 2008. He wound up hitting .256/.369/.568 in a Cubs uniform with 19 home runs in 250 at-bats. Since the Padres had released him, they were on the hook for his $8 million contract that year and the Cubs got that performance for a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary. It was one of Jim Hendry's best acquisitions as Cubs general manager. I was very, very wrong about Edmonds and glad to have been so, as he was a major contributor to the Cubs' division title year. Truth be told, they should have re-signed him for 2009.
So I'm writing this as kind of a mea culpa for myself. I shouldn't be so quick to say "done" when a player might not be, or to judge a trade or signing before results are in the books. There are always surprises ahead in many of those things, and some of them can be positive.
There's one more thing about Jim Edmonds' tenure with the Cubs that I wanted to get out there. I actually know a couple of people -- not BCB members, but Cubs fans -- who refused to root for Edmonds because he had been a Cardinal. That's just nonsense thinking, in my view. The same people don't want former White Sox players on the Cubs. I can't think of anything more ridiculous. If the Cubs acquire a player who can help the team, I don't care which team he played for prior to putting on the blue pinstripes. Once he does, he's a Cub. A perfect example is Jason Motte. I hope he succeeds and makes the Cardinals regret letting him go.