There Are Fun NRIs And Less Fun NRIs

I've said it before, but by and large, I love guys who come to Spring Training on minor league contracts. I love them because, while there's practically zero risk, a lot of times it's easy to see the possible upside. Look at some of the guys the Mariners have brought in. Denny Bautista. Adam Kennedy. Justin Miller. Luis Rodriguez. And so on. For so many of the names, it's possible to envision a scenario in which they break camp with the team and actually help out a little bit.

Those are the fun sorts of non-roster invitees. These are the other sort.

Cardinals have agreed on minor league contracts with RHPs Miguel Batista and Ian Snell, with invites to big-league camp.

I'll grant that it's possible to envision a scenario in which Miguel Batista or Ian Snell break camp with the Cardinals and actually help out a little bit, in that it isn't impossible to envision such a scenario. But I've watched 490 combined innings of both those guys, and I don't think I need to express to you what a relief it was when they each disappeared. Neither was effective, and neither was the least bit watchable, making them shining examples of the very worst kind of player to have on your team.

What's the upside here? That the Cardinals end up with a pair of passable but tedious middle relievers? I'll grant that Dave Duncan might be a genius, but the last thing the Cardinals need to do is risk occupying their excellent pitching coach with a pair of unsolvable problems. There are better talents on which he could work. More exciting talents. Talents that don't take 72 seconds between every pitch.

It's remarkable to look back and see what we survived. Ian Snell started 20 games for the Mariners, walking too many and striking out too few while struggling with a home run problem. Miguel Batista didn't have the home run problem, but he had the other two, and in 2008 he posted a walk rate - over 115 innings - of 6.2 per nine. 6.2 walks per nine innings. It was the third-highest walk rate in Mariners history, behind Randy Johnson and Mark Langston, but Miguel Batista posted his at the age of 37. He's 40 in a month. And still, he works.

I don't mean to make too big a deal of this, simply because neither Batista nor Snell represent any sort of pricey investment. And it was probably inevitable that they'd both end up getting an NRI somewhere. For now, they're harmless depth. But to get their NRIs on the same day, at the same time, from the same team - they say the Cardinals have the best fans in baseball, and it appears the team is determined to put that to the test.

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