Former Cardinal, Angel Edmonds released by Padres
SAN DIEGO -- Jim Edmonds' batting average had fallen to .178 -- more than 100 points below his lifetime mark -- and he clearly had lost a step or two while chasing fly balls in center field.
The 37-year-old Edmonds was hardly the only struggling player on the team with the worst record in the big leagues. His struggles were glaring enough, though, that San Diego released him on Friday, a move that will cost the Padres approximately $4.7 million.
The Padres viewed Edmonds as a one-year stopgap in center field and he didn't even last six weeks.
"If we would have been 10-11 games over .500, we might have been able to ride this thing out a little bit longer and wait for him to hopefully better his numbers," general manager Kevin Towers. "But with the struggles with the ballclub and him struggling offensively and probably not the same defender we're used to seeing as well, we felt it was time to make a change."
The Padres went into Friday night's 4-2 loss to Colorado with a 12-23 (.343) record. Even with Arizona's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, the Padres were 10½ games back.
An eight-time Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star, Edmonds strained his right calf in a spring game on March 6 and started the season on the disabled list before being activated on April 5. A lifetime .286 hitter, he was just 16-for-90 in 26 games, with one home run and six RBIs.
While Edmonds once made spectacular catches while with the Cardinals and Angels, he simply couldn't catch up to fly balls or had them hit over his head.
Towers said Edmonds was "very apologetic" when he and manager Bud Black informed him of the move.
"He said he felt great this winter, was in the best shape he'd been in a long time, and thought he was going to have a real, real good year," Towers said. "He apologized to us for not performing at the level he was accustomed to as well. We assured him it wasn't just Jim Edmonds. He wasn't the only reason why this club is struggling now. It's a handful of things right now."
Edmonds, who helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 2006 World Series, didn't return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.
Edmonds' salary this year is $8 million. The Padres got $2 million from the Cardinals when they acquired Edmonds on Dec. 15 for minor league third baseman David Freese.
That deal came about quickly after the Padres were spurned by three outfielders in less than a week, including their own free agents, center fielder Mike Cameron and left fielder Milton Bradley. They were outbid for Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
The Padres called up outfielder Jody Gerut from Triple-A Portland and he started in center Friday night. Gerut, on San Diego's opening day roster, hit .308 five home runs and 18 RBIs in 27 games with the Beavers.
Towers said there probably will be other moves. But he said the team is not inclined to bring up outfield prospect Chase Headley given the current atmosphere and the fact fans might expect him to be a savior. Headley was converted from third base to left field in spring training.
Last year, the Padres fell one game short of their third straight postseason appearance. This year, their offense has simply failed to show up. Their team batting average (.232), slugging percentage (.340) and on-base percentage (.304) are the worst in the majors.
"Right now were at the bottom, in the gutter, if you want to call it that," Towers said. "We can't be worried about what people are doing in this division, in front us. We just need to find ways to start winning series. Hopefully if we can find ways to win series we can start becoming a little bit more respectable. We're certainly looking at maybe making more changes. How many, I couldn't tell you right now. At this point in time, the way we're playing, I think you have to look at it."
Gerut made the Padres out of camp as a non-roster invitee and went 1-for-6 with a stolen base in four games before being optioned to the Beavers.
San Diego also claimed left-handed pitcher Sean Henn off waivers from the New York Yankees, purchased the contract of catcher Luke Carlin from Portland and optioned catcher Colt Morton to Double-A San Antonio.
Henn (1-0) gave up an earned run in 10 2-3 innings over eight relief appearances this season between Triple-A Tampa and Class-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He is expected to join the Padres on Saturday, when they'll have to make a corresponding move.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press