In January, Edmonds announced at a fundraiser for La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation that he wanted to return to baseball, and to play for the Cardinals in 2010 after sitting out the 2009 season. The club discussed the possibility, but never moved aggressively on Edmonds, and he signed with Milwaukee instead.
La Russa said that he had, and has, no doubts that Edmonds could have helped the Cardinals. Instead, he worried about having Edmonds as a bit player rather than in a starring role.
"I think he's definitely good enough to play on this club," La Russa said. "I think the problem is what's here. Best case, assuming no injury, is a guy who sits there and plays here, plays there, plays on an infrequent basis. Like Aaron Miles, get three hits and then the next day he sits. I think that would have been a very unfair request for Jim. ... He knows he can play. He knows he can hit. I've been through this before."
Edmonds signed with the Brewers in part because they had more opportunity for a left-handed-hitting outfielder to play. He is 18 home runs short of 400 for his career. Reaching that milestone might well bolster Edmonds' Hall of Fame case. He'll likely play more in Milwaukee than he would have in St. Louis.
"It would have been a situation that would have just asked for problems," La Russa said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.