As it turns out, the Mariners signed not one, but two players who were good a decade ago to minor league contracts. This one's a former Mariner who also spent 2005 rehabbing from injuries (albeit to his leg, rather than his arm). Made famous by being that second baseman who was always overdrafted in fantasy leagues, Vina signed a $6m/2yr deal with Detroit prior to 2004, but gave them just 115 at bats of .226 offense before becoming a free agent again. Now 36 (37 in April), he's just looking for a chance to get a little playing time somewhere and go out on a high note.
Back in his peak, Vina was a quality defensive second baseman capable of hitting .300 and getting on base while rarely striking out. Since 2002, though, he's hit just .260/.324/.341, and he's unlikely to have much left after missing the better part of three consecutive seasons. Never a real quality basestealer to begin with, Vina's speed has almost completely eroded, and his significant lower body injuries (which nearly ended his career) have probably reduced his range in the field to the point at which he's not helping with the glove, either. He's like Rey Sanchez without the defense or versatility, and it's not like he's much of a hot item these days.
I'm guessing that Vina was brought in as Jose Lopez insurance, but aside from his grit, tenacity, experience, and all those other veteran adjectives, he doesn't really bring anything to the table. Which is perfectly fine, since he was only given a minor league contract, but he's a considerably worse player than Willie Bloomquist, and that's saying a lot. The way I figure, if at any point this season you see Fernando Vina in the Mariner lineup, then something has gone horribly awry, and the team's in dire straits. Vina can talk to Joel Pineiro all he wants about the easiest way to cultivate a proper goatee, but unless baseball is governed by a mysterious force whose sole purpose is to spite me and mock everything I've ever believed in, that's not going to help the team much in the standings.