Parque, 30, will attend major league camp and probably begin the season with Triple-A Tacoma as a starter. "He can build up arm strength and stretch out, and then we'll all figure out how far back he really is," said agent Paul Cohen.
My first truly enjoyable Mariner moment came in August of 1998, when I saw them play in person for the first time in my life (1995 was a blast, but I was too young to appreciate the significance of the achievement). And as it happens, arguably my most recent truly enjoyable Mariner moment came a few years later in May of 2002, when Mike Cameron drilled four homers in a game and came two feet away from a fifth. There hasn't been much to cheer for since them.
What's the connection, you ask? Jim Parque pitched, and sucked, in both of those games. So maybe I'm a little biased, but I think the guy blows. Not that he didn't have some promise back in the day, but after busting his shoulder, semi-formally retiring, and turning 31 (in a week), that's pretty much all gone by this point. It's cute that some of the high schoolers Parque's been coaching have convinced him to give professional baseball another shot, but he's a lot more Dennis Quaid than Jim Morris, so I wouldn't get my hopes up expecting anything fantastic. A group of 16 year olds are a lot more easily impressed by 88mph fastballs than, say, the Twins.
It's funny - the last time anyone noticed Jim Parque was when he allowed four homers and six runs in six innings against Seattle back in 2002. (He was demoted to AAA just hours after being yanked.) He deserves to be remembered with Dan Wright, Mike Sirotka, Rocky Biddle, and John Snyder as part of the Awesome Rotation That Wasn't, not as a guy who needed one last ass-beating to finally call it quits. I admire Parque's courage, but bravery without sensibility can be dangerous, and I'd like to see how many of those high schoolers keep listening to him after he gets yarded twice by Danny Ardoin.
So anyway, yeah, Parque's going to be in camp serving as the Mariners' own Red Asphalt warning to young pitchers about what could happen if they get careless, or suck, or both. So in that respect I guess there's an upside to this, but then Aaron Small sucked and became an East Coast folk hero, so these kids are going to be getting a lot of mixed messages.
Parque's insurance, but not really, since pretty much every other starter above Everett is ahead of him on the depth chart. He's just a decent story that's going to get its second unhappy ending. If Kevin Appier couldn't pull this off with better stuff, I don't think Jim Parque's pocket full of dreams even has a window of opportunity.