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Spring Training 2011: Miguel Batista Cardinals' Predictable Favorite

Reporting from the St. Louis Cardinals' spring training home in Jupiter, Fla., Derrick Goold mentioned Tony La Russa's "[surrender] to the obvious": That the Cardinals are almost certain to have Miguel Batista on the roster when they break camp for St. Louis. Batista, 40, has been a would-be-Cardinal for years, and his ability to "close" and "start" makes him ideal for the team's deathless long-reliever role.

Batista's been average in spite of himself the last several years—the peripherals aren't really there, but somehow he's been continually adequate in spite of a high walk rate and a mediocre strikeout rate. He's held on to too much velocity to be a five-tool Dave Duncan favorite, but anyone who underestimates his possible role on the major league club does so at his own risk. Goold's comparison to Blake Hawksworth seems to me to be the low end of possible Batista jobs.

For what it's worth, when you're playing La Russa Bingo, Batista has one year as a closer, in which he lost eight games and blew eight saves, and has made a full slate of starts five times. In his career, he's got a 4.49 ERA as a starter and a 4.56 ERA as a reliever, with strikingly similar peripherals. Such, I guess, is the makeup of a swingman.