Edman's versatility 'creates a ton of value'

Flaherty speaks out; pitching plans set for Reds series

April 21st, 2021

WASHINGTON -- is making highlight-reel, Gold Glove-caliber plays at two different positions just under three weeks into the 2021 season.

That fact alone may mean he wins no hardware come the end of the year.

Initially pinned to the Cardinals’ starting second-base job in Spring Training, Edman has found himself a rover once again. Entering Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals, the 25-year-old has nine starts as a second baseman and eight as a right fielder -- the only Major Leaguer with at least 50 innings in both the infield and outfield sans an error.

Should a utility Gold Glove be in consideration?

“I like the concept of it at first blush -- it makes a lot of sense,” said manager Mike Shildt. “... [A guy] playing multiple positions, he should be -- maybe there's a category if there's enough people to justify it -- [rewarded]. Otherwise, he's probably getting punished for being a good teammate and being able to bounce around, which creates a ton of value, as we know.”

Among the qualifications to earn a Gold Glove is that each candidate must have at least 713 innings at their specific position. Splitting time evenly (though that may not be the case the entire season) makes Edman’s margin for error razor thin.

The Cardinals, regardless of hardware, are well aware of Edman’s value.

“Maybe it gets overlooked in the accolades, but it doesn't get overlooked by the manager or the team,” said first-base coach and infield coordinator Stubby Clapp. “ [Edman] embraces it, and he excels at it. He’s a great athlete.”

It’s not solely with the bat. Entering the series finale in D.C., Edman has reached base in 16 of the first 17 games of the season as the leadoff man, with his 12-game hitting streak, which ended Sunday, the longest of anyone in the Majors right now.

Edman also recently hit an under-the-radar yet momentous mark on Sunday. It was the 162nd game played of his Major League career, meaning he hit a full season across his nomadic three years in the bigs.

Few recent starts to a career can rival the roller coaster Edman’s has been: Called up in June to be a key contributor for the 2019 playoff run, back in the postseason the very next year and playing six positions along the way.

A full slate into his career, Edman’s bWAR was 5.8. That would have been the highest mark on the 2019 team -- by a rather comfortable margin. Talk about value.

Flaherty speaks out
When Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced the conviction of police officer Derek Chauvin on three counts of murder in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday, in Minneapolis, an outpour of emotions played out from the nation, world and athletes alike.

was among that group, tweeting a simple yet poignant fist and heart emoji shortly following the news. And on Wednesday, as he’s done numerous times in the year since Floyd’s murder, he continued to speak out.

In an appearance on MLB Network’s High Heat with Alanna Rizzo, Flaherty said he and his Cardinals teammates were initially caught off-guard when the ruling came down when it did. But once it was announced, “just a lot of texts going around where it was a lot of, ‘Thank goodness that they got this one right,’” Flaherty said.

“It still doesn’t, you know,” Flaherty trailed off. “George Floyd is still not with us. … My mom texted me, and she said that hopefully the families and everybody involved can find a little bit of a sense of peace with it, just with the decision that was made.”

Flaherty’s appearance on Wednesday was not an uncommon occurrence for the 25-year-old. In the year since Floyd’s death, he’s expressed his commitment to become more of an outspoken advocate against racial injustice and more of a presence in the St. Louis community.

And he’s done just that already this year, recently making both a monetary and book donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.

“It’s one of those things that you -- to take a Jackie Robinson quote, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other people’s lives,’” Flaherty said. “We all have a chance every day to make a change, and sometimes those changes are real small, and you can impact somebody’s life in the smallest of ways. Seeing everything that has gone on, especially in the past few years, and the changes that we’ve had, The Players Alliance has given each and every player -- and baseball -- a chance to really give back in a very easy way. ... That’s something that’s always been important -- trying to impact other people and trying to give back -- and it’s just continued to become more important as these things have gone on.”

Pitching plans
The Cardinals will employ their standard rotation when they open their second homestand on Friday, starting Kwang Hyun Kim, John Gant and Flaherty in succession against newfound foe Nick Castellanos and the Reds. Soon thereafter, though, with the knowledge that the club faces 17 consecutive games without an off-day, Johan Oviedo will join the rotation as a sixth starter, Shildt said.

St. Louis has pledged to “honor the off-days” this year, coming off the heels of the shortened season. Adding Oviedo in the near future is one way to do so, but the club is cognizant of the challenge that is on the docket for its arms.

One slice of confidence: The difficulties the staff already underwent last year -- with an unprecedented amount of doubleheaders in a brief period of time -- were weathered.

“That's part of the job,” Shildt said, “and I feel like we’ve done it very well, quite candidly.”