The Mariners made a pretty good move and signed Roberto Petagine to a minor-league contract and gave him an invite to spring training; he should show up there tomorrow. You'll note that it was a year ago when people around the blogosphere were saying it was a good move when the Red Sox signed him as well.
I think Jeff at Lookout Landing said it best -- Petagine's upside is a decent lefty bench bat, better than Greg Dobbs, and his downside is giving Tacoma a possible PCL MVP candidate. I have no idea who the heck is playing first base in Tacoma this year anyway. AJ Zapp left via free agency last winter, and Aaron Rifkin departed via the Rule 5 Roulette this winter.
And of course, it means we can make more Olga Petagine jokes. Those never get "old"!
Okay, okay, that was a low shot, and I don't actually mean it. For those that don't know, Petagine's wife Olga is 58, and he's 34. He met her when he was playing in the Venezuela winter leagues; she was the mother of one of his friends. He went over to their house for dinner one night and fell in love with his friend's mom. Sounds sort of like a bizarre fairy tale, doesn't it? The Japanese press never seemed to tire of calling attention to their marriage, though, and when Yomiuri stopped playing Roberto as often, claiming his knees were shot, Olga totally went postal on the club and openly criticised them for the way they were treating her husband. As I mentioned a few days ago, that's a really good way to get yourself deported from Japanese baseball, and besides, none of the teams felt like paying $8 million a year for Petagine any more, no matter how many home runs he hit. (Huh. No Tuffy, no Peta, I wonder who the top paid player is this year. Alex Cabrera, maybe?)
In all honesty, I have to respect them for putting up with the Japanese press for as long as they did, really. Imagine the field day the press would have if Kris Benson went to Japan?
Anyway, the thing is, he put up a .317/.446/.633 line in 6 years (756 games) in Japan, with 570 walks against 550 strikeouts, and 223 home runs. (stats from Westbay-san's site) Also, Jim Albright's NPB->MLB translations were pretty good for him as well. He wasn't too shabby in the handful of games he played in 2005 when the Red Sox called him up, either.
Unfortunately, I only saw him play in one game in Japan, the same one I posted that picture of Tuffy Rhodes from. Petagine was terrible; he went 0-for-4 and struck out three times. Hopefully my presence is not an unlucky charm for him (unlike how every time I see Jason Giambi play, he completely kicks ass).