An already deep Cardinals rotation added some surplus on Friday, inking Miguel Batista and Ian Snell to minor-league deals. The Post-Dispatch reports that Batista can become a free agent if he's not assured a spot on the big-league team by the final week of Spring Training, and that Snell has a similar option for June 1.
Batista, who turns 40 early next month, has already played in nine big-league cities in a career that began with the Pirates in 1992. He pitched both as a spot starter and long reliever last season with the Nationals.
His one start received national attention, as he took the mound to replace rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg on short notice, to a chorus of boos from the paying public. After the game, he made the remark, "Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos."
He was exceptional in that one start, handcuffing the first-place Atlanta Braves to just three hits and one walk in five shutout innings, while striking out six.
Batista wasn't the only former Pirates farmhand with a penchant for the strikeout that the Redbirds added. Ian Snell made his big-league debut for Pittsburgh in 2004, when he gave up just one hit, to the Cardinals' John Mabry.
Of the two, Snell has much more potential with the Cardinals. Despite a disappointing season with the Mariners last year, Snell is just 29, and holds a career strikeout rate of 7.2 K/9. From 2006-08, he averaged 172 strikeouts per 162 games.
However, after a strong 2007 campaign, in which he posted career bests with a 3.76 ERA, 208 innings pitched, and 2.9 BB/9, Snell hasn't been the same pitcher.
In 2008, he had a league-high in OBP-against (.385) and triples allowed (9), and his careening career reached its nadir in 2010, when, after struggling with injuries and failing to hold onto a roster spot for the two previous seasons, he allowed eight runs and struck out only one in 1.2 innings against Texas.
Despite his troubles with the Pirates and Mariners, Snell could benefit greatly from a change of scenery. His struggles have often been attributed to depression and a disenchantment with his playing environment. Many players have found new life after coming to St. Louis, a town that is widely known for celebrating even the lowliest of middle relievers as demigods.
Snell may also benefit from the tutelage of legendary coach Dave Duncan, who has turned many players with less talent than Snell into All-Stars.
Time will tell if the new coach and town help Snell's and Batista's careers.
The Cardinals also announced their non-roster invitees on Friday: pitchers Brandon Dickson, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Adam Ottavino, Kevin Thomas and Raul Valdes, catchers Nick Derba, Steven Hill, Audry Perez and Robert Stock, infielders Matt Carpenter and Donovan Solano and outfielders Amaury Cazana, Shane Robinson and Nick Stavinoha.
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