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New Bench Bat Candidate

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As Jerry noted in the Diaries section a little while ago, the Mariners have signed Roberto Petagine to a minor league contract with an ST invite. According to the Times, he should report to camp tomorrow.

Coming up more than a decade ago, Petagine had everything you look for in an A-grade offensive prospect - he hit for average, he hit for power, he got on base, and he didn't strike out too often. Everything came together in 1993, when he hit .334/.444/.529 as a 22 year old in AA. Upon being promoted to the Majors, though, Petagine struggled, and although his eye and most of his power remained, he hit just .225 over parts of five seasons before leaving for Japan.

...where he dominated. Petagine hit 223 home runs over 756 games with Yakult and Yomiuri, terrorizing pitchers until mercifully coming back to the States a year ago to join the AAA affiliate of the Red Sox. 1,087 OPS points later, Petagine showed that, even at 34, he was still every bit the hitter he'd always been. He didn't suck in a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues, either, which helped his stock a little bit. Nevertheless, Petagine was let go after the season ended, and much like with Russ Branyan, he had considerable difficulty finding a new home for his intriguing productive bat.

Now he's here, and there's zero downside - if he breaks camp with the team, the Mariners have a decent power bench bat for the first time in 20 years, and if he doesn't, Tacoma gets to plug a PCL MVP candidate into its lineup every day. Working against Petagine are two things: for one, his record suggests that Major League pitchers are able to figure out ways to beat him that AAA pitchers can't, and two, he doesn't play any position very well, which makes it difficult to keep him around on a team with a four-man bench where each member is all but required to have dual functionality. Working for Petagine is the fact that, even at his advanced age, he's still twice the hitter Greg Dobbs will ever be, and that guy still somehow managed to pick up 142 at bats a year ago.

Roberto Petagine may not work out, but the idea itself is solid - that there's no harm in bringing in a bunch of moderate upside/no downside guys to try and fill out your roster, because there's always the chance that one of them surprises you, and little chance of one of them dragging you down. A good move here, with the additional benefit of knowing that Dobbs' chances of making the roster out of ST just took a hit.