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Tracy Thorpe

Word is that, in addition to calling up Jeremy Reed, the Mariners have claimed Tracy Thorpe off waivers from the Blue Jays and added him to their 40-man roster, which now contains 39(?) players.

The Mariners do a lot of dumb things. Like calling up Jeremy Reed to sit on the bench while Jose Vidro DH's and Raul Ibanez plays Pin The Tail On The Power Alley. But one thing they tend to do well is build up a stockpile of cheap, effective relievers, and Thorpe stands a reasonable chance of being the latest example.

Thorpe was designated for assignment a few days ago when the honkiest team in baseball added another fat dark-skinned reliever with more experience. Built like a conjoined pair of brick shithouses, Thorpe was the closer in AAA Syracuse before getting dropped, where he struck out 18 hitters in his first 13.2 innings of AAA pitching. This came after two seasons of (mostly) closing for AA New Hampshire. So, for whatever it's worth, the guy was favored enough to throw the high-leverage pitches in low-leverage baseball games. That means pretty much nothing but I felt like adding some filler.

Thorpe turned 27 last December and only has 13 games of experience above AA. Based on his statistical profile, he's a fairly extreme flyballer who has a hard time consistently working the strike zone. However, he's struck out a batter an inning and has proven reasonably difficult to hit, and he's accomplished this by featuring a powerful repertoire that includes a mid-90s fastball, a biting slider, and a half-decent changeup. It makes sense that the Mariners picked him up, since they love guys who come in from the bullpen throwing everything hard. That's Thorpe. Batters may be able to reach base against him at a reasonable clip, but they're not going to enjoy it.

I won't make any guarantees, here. That'd be silly, and odds are good that Thorpe never even sees the light of day in the Major Leagues. That said, there's a really thin line between being a mediocre reliever and being an effective one, and Thorpe has the stuff to stick around for a while if he's able to take the next step. This is a way better gamble than trying to resurrect whatever's left of Jim Brower or Esteban Yan, and even if it doesn't pan out, it's a neat little move. Good on you, Mariners. This is smart. Now apply the same principles to your starters and position players and I'll like you guys a lot more.