St. Louis Cardinals Sign Scott Linebrink, Now Have Two Kyle McClellans

The St. Louis Cardinals made their yearly trip through the veteran relief pitcher aisle of MLB free agency over the weekend, signing Scott Linebrink to a minor league deal with a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Linebrink is a classic minor league pickup at the position, a hard-throwing former set-up man who's been floating around for a while just above replacement level and could help the Cardinals out of a depth problem if their younger options flail. The problem, as bgh discovered at Viva El Birdos, is that he's an eerily exact clone of Kyle McClellan, who the Cardinals offered a Roy-Oswalt-confounding $2.5 million to earlier in the offseason.

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It's more a lesson on the fungibility of pretty-okay relief pitchers than the fungibility of Kyle McClellan in particular, but it's salt in the wounds of a fanbase that briefly imagined Oswalt to be a done deal.

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Here's the good news, though: He isn't Miguel Batista. Given 50 innings, for whatever reason, Linebrink's a reasonable bet to strike out some batters, keep his walk rate bearable, and—well, and allow too many home runs to ever get a shot at a closer's job, in spite of those big years he had in San Diego. There's a reason he was available for free, after all—it just happens to be the same reason Kyle McClellan should also have been available for free.

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