ST. LOUIS — Tommy Edman was born in California, but his legend may have begun up the coast in Seattle last night.
Fun fact before we get started about that thrilling 5-2 Cardinal victory: Since June 8, Edman has more home runs (3) than Paul Goldschmidt (2).
Now, the intent isn't to throw another 45-pound weight on top of Goldschmidt's disappointing season, because that's been documented everywhere, but to show you the type of player St. Louis has in the 24-year-old San Diego native.
He can just about do it all. Edman is a switch-hitter, swinging better from the left side, but is capable from the right. He is listed on the Cardinals' website as a shortstop, but that is one of the many utilities the jack of all trades has shown during his extended stay in the Majors as well as his Memphis play this season.
While Edman has only started at second and third base for the Cardinals in his six starts, he's covered five positions for the Triple-A affiliate Redbirds. Wherever you point to, the kid plays and does it well. He's got a cannon for a right arm, and speed to match it. Imagine Bo Hart on six Red Bulls with a lot more versatility, and you have a fraction of the ability of Edman.
The 2016 sixth round draft pick out of Stanford was a pinch hitter on Wednesday night in Seattle. The Cardinals had just tied the game at two runs apiece on Yadier Molina's sacrifice fly but were hungry for more. With a lefty on the mound in Roenis Elias for Seattle, Edman switched around and stood on the right side with two on and two out in the ninth inning. The highest stakes for a kid with chilled sparkling water flowing through his veins.
Sure, Edman looks like a high school kid who got lost on the way to geometry class, but his swing distinguishes him from the physical build. On first glance, it reminds me of David Eckstein, who seemed to torque his entire body when he swung, like a wrench twisting itself across a larger fitting. But there's more power to it. The exit velocity and launch angle befits a guy twice his size. Or, maybe the kids just got it.
What? A spark that could light a fire under the Cardinals. The once-promising and currently spiraling St. Louis team needs something from the lineup to resemble glue in the coming weeks before August lurks closer. The come-from-behind win brought them back to the .500 mark, which isn't a place this team should be wrestling with around the All-Star Break.
Little to nothing has gone right for the Cardinals. A quick glance at the stats on the website or game logs from the past two months can tell that story in a blind man's hands. The only resolve to be found is what can pull them out of the dark and back into the light of winning streaks, contention, and divisional respect.
At the moment, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are playing nearly as poorly as the Cardinals and are leaving the door open but trust me when I say it will close soon. St. Louis is 2.5 games behind Milwaukee this morning and 1.5 behind Chicago, which saw its new shiny closer, Craig Kimbrel, blow a save on Wednesday. Joe Maddon could be up there complaining about the thickness of his oatmeal to the elasticity in his player's uniforms at the moment, so strike while the iron is hot.
Edman can help. With Matt Carpenter puking and straining his back, third base needs help. With Harrison Bader flirting with Mendoza, center field needs aide. Wong has been a defensive marvel, but he's tilting back towards .230 at the plate. Edman has shown he can come off the bench or start in multiple spots. He's could be to Mike Shildt this summer what Aaron Miles was to Tony La Russa in 2008: a lethal and flexible weapon. Miles played seven position that year while hitting .317. Edman has more power and promise, but let's focus on 2019 while we try to sleep.
While John Mozeliak figures out what his trade deadline play is (nothing or next to nothing?), the Cardinals need to win games. Sell or buy, wins always help a team's focus, on the field and up top in the offices. The Mariners have the second worst ERA in baseball and the Giants are worse, so collect $200 at GO and march into the break with some dignity.
You do that by starting Edman every game from here on out. Yairo Munoz isn't going anywhere, but you can shift him, Edman, Wong, and Bader around in games. The latter two don't need to start every day. I couldn't care less that Bader had two hits on Wednesday. Munoz and Edman have come up with bigger ones in Seattle alone. They need to start. Same for Tyler O'Neill, who makes flawed pitcher sweat with the possibility of a mistake across the plate.
Look at the ninth inning's highlights. O'Neill worked the count and drew a crucial walk. There were singles and hustling. Great baserunning all around. Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez, Goldschmidt, and Yadier Molina came through. But there was Edman sending everyone to the happy side of the mood with one, big swing.
He's got three home runs in limited duty. 36 at-bats and a lot of moving. He hasn't put together a white-hot streak yet. He's put together a couple solid three game stretches but hasn't blasted off just yet. Let's see what he's got. Little else is working in the lineup. The Cardinals are projected to win 83 games this season, so why not go to the rookie well again.
It's worked in the past few years. Just look at the currently lumbering lineup for a greatest hits debut playlist. Bader, Paul DeJong, Wong, Martinez, and O'Neill. Ex-Cardinals like Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham, and Luke Voit weren't bad either. Perhaps the breakout star of 2019 doesn't throw a nasty cutter or deceptive breaking ball. Maybe he plays everywhere, looks like the kid who almost got cast in The Sandlot, and can run.
If I were the Cardinals, I'd write Edman's name on the lineup card in ink for the time being. How much farther can you fall than possibly losing a series in Seattle without his services?
All Tommy Edman did was start the fireworks show a little early.