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An Exhaustively-Researched History Of Recent Mariner NRIs

Just to give you some idea of the likelihood of any of these guys breaking camp with the roster. Top prospects (like Jeff Clement this year, or Adam Jones in 2004) aren't included, since they're only around to get ST experience and not to win a job.

2004 NRIs:

Mike Myers
Jose Nunez
George Sherrill
Randy Williams
Pat Borders
Bucky Jacobsen
Mickey Lopez
AJ Zapp
Hiram Bocachica

Made the Opening Day roster:

Mike Myers

2005 NRIs:

Jeff Nelson
Aaron Sele
Nate Bland
Masao Kida
Dan Reichert
Wiki Gonzalez
Kit Pellow
Benji Gil
Ricky Gutierrez
Mickey Lopez
Ramon Santiago

Made the Opening Day roster:

Jeff Nelson
Aaron Sele

2006 NRIs:

Kevin Appier
Dave Burba
Lindsey Gulin
Jeff Harris
Chris Jaile
Corky Miller
Andy Dominique
Rayon Lampe
Greg Dobbs
Jose Morban
Cody Ransom
Todd Sears
Fernando Vina

Made the Opening Day roster:

... (Edit: Jeff Harris)

The point is, for the most part, you can pretty much go ahead and ignore NRI lists. Even with three consecutive painfully flawed rosters, only three four NRIs have broken camp with the big club, two of them being completely obvious choices, another only having had to beat out Ryan Franklin, and the last winning the spot for all of ten days while Matt Lawton served a suspension. Every spring we've heard about how no one's job is safe, and every spring they really are, since as much fun as Mike Hargrove has with Fernando Vina recalling where they were the moment they heard about Archduke Ferdinand's assassination, neither of them see the veteran as a realistic solution to anything other than the management crisis at Goatees Goatees Goatees. Established, talented players getting challenged by washed-ups and journeymen is one of the bigger charades in baseball, whether or not the players are actually in on it.

This year, there appears to be a max of one roster spot open, which'd almost certainly go to a reliever. So the NRIs might get in on the action, but seeing as the role isn't particularly critical, none of them are going to have any significant impact on the team's record. They practically never do (save for 2003 Esteban Loaiza, the NRI equivalent of Rule 5's Johan Santana). If these lists were released in November instead of the deadest part of the offseason, people like me wouldn't even consider them newsworthy. It's a collection of replacement-level players competing with each other for the right to prove that they deserve such a label in the Majors for 75 at bats or 40 innings. That's just not very interesting.

So, yeah. While it's going to be fun watching for Arthur Rhodes' velocity or Jorge Campillo's changeup, in the long run none of these ST position battles mean anything. A team's fate is decided by its best and worst players, not the guys at the end of the bench or the back of the bullpen. Even in the event of an injury, they just get passed up by prospects or trade acquisitions. In that respect I guess it's a little depressing, but then again it's not like we're the ones fooling ourselves, so here's to Rey Ordonez playing his little heart out. As long as you try your hardest, it's always easier to look back and realize you didn't make a difference.