It's time to bid goodbye to Miguel Batista, who signed a minor league contract today with the Washington Nationals with an invite to spring training. This is no surprise. I had a better chance of signing with the M's than he did.
He'll join manager Jim Riggleman, bench coach John McLaren and utility player Mike Morse -- all former Mariners in DC.
Batista came to Seattle in 2007, signing a three-year, $25 million contract. In three seasons, he appeared 152 games, starting 52 games, finishing with a 27-29 record with a 4.84 ERA and two saves. Last season, he was making $9 million and appeared in 56 games, posting a 7-4 record with 4.04 ERA and a save.
It's no secret that Batista used to drive me insane from a pitching standpoint. His propensity to go to full counts to every hitter, while taking an inordinate amount of time between pitches used make my blood boil. And once there was a runner on base, well, then everything slowed down more because Batista would throw over to first incessantly.
He showed signs of decent stuff, including a fastball that could get to the mid 90s and a two-seamer with some movement. And yet, it still never seemed easy. I will say that in the final month of season, he had a couple of very solid outings.
As for Batista the person, I kind of soured on him a little in the middle of the 2008 season. The Mariners were in New York and he got shelled by the Mets, going 2 2/3 innnings and allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking five and giving up three home runs, and after the game he complained as he often did about being hurt and still pitching.
"It's been a health issue most of the time," he said. "I was trying to get loose in the pen and my back started to bother me."
"I have to make sure I get myself healthy before I go out there again, because I'm the only guy trying to pitch through it," he said. "Everybody else, every time they feel pain, they go on the DL, or they take a rest, and I haven't."That last comment was directed to Erik Bedard, who at the time had done just that. Justifiable criticism? Perhaps.
Obviously, Riggleman and the front office wasn't pleased about the comment. Batista then denied that he said that and that he was completely misquoted. But for as highly intelligent as Batista is, he seemed to forget that we all used digital recorders when interviewing him and we save most of the files. So when the M's media relations asked about it, we simply sent them the audio file and Batista refused to speak to us again.
Last season, he was surly and unhappy, and bit of a loner in the M's clubhouse. He didn't like his role in the bullpen. He truly believed he should have been the closer because of his closing experience with the Blue Jaysin 2005, when he 31 saves. Besides his unhappiness with his role and the lack of appearances, he had anything in common with his bullpen-mates, who were all at least 15 years younger than him.
One thing I do respect about Batista is his philanthropy. The man has made a lot of money for a somewhat mediocre career in baseball. And he's used that money for good, donating plenty of it to help the less fortunate. Because of his charity work, he was named the Mariners' Robert Clement Award winner in 2009.