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Jim Parque Coming back to Bigs?

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Before I get going with this, I had a DH spot at Baseball Analysts today, on Jeff Bagwell's career. Thanks to Rich Lederer for the opportunity to write a guest piece.

Via Rumor Central at ESPN.com:

Jan 3 - Left-handed pitcher Jim Parque, who hasn't appeared in the major leagues since 2003 because of shoulder trouble, is healthy again and trying to make a comeback, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

Parque, a former first-round pick out of UCLA, went 31-34 in parts of six seasons with the White Sox and Devil Rays. His best season came in 2000, when he posted a 13-6 record for Chicago and started the opener of the American League Division Series against the Mariners.

Jim Parque huh? Let's take a look at his numbers for his career, from 1998 to 2003:

Jim Parque 1998-2003
AGE YEAR TEAM IP K% BB% HR/9 RA
22 1998 CHI-A 113.0 15.2% 9.7% 1.12 5.73
23 1999 CHI-A 173.7 13.8% 9.8% 1.19 5.75
24 2000 CHI-A 187.0 13.4% 8.6% 1.01 5.05
25 2001 CHI-A 28.0 11.4% 7.6% 2.25 8.36
26 2002 CHI-A 25.3 10.3% 12.7% 3.91 10.32
27 2003 TB 17.3 8.4% 16.8% 1.04 11.97

2000 is not all that bad of a season; the league ERA was 5.17, and Jim Parque's 4.28 gives him an ERA+ of 121. His RA was only 5.05 as well, so he was still a league average pitcher. It's difficult to tell if he was capable of repeating that performance or not, because injuries began to limit his innings and productivity from that point onward.

He does not strike out a great deal of batters, and he walks a few too many for my tastes. His BABIPs for 1998-2000 were .336, .329 and .310; this was most likely due to Chicago's defense, which was in the middle of the pack from 1998-2000, ranked 12, 19, and 15 in the majors by Defensive Efficiency. In front of a decent defense, Parque might have some value.

Sadly, I don't have complete batted-ball data for Parque prior to 2002, so I'll have to use G/F ratio, which I'm not really a fan of. From 1998 to 2000, Parque's G/F were 1.71, 1.29, and 1.69, with his career total coming in at 1.47, so he is most likely a groundball pitcher, although not severe or anything. His minor league numbers are related to his MLB ones: low strikeout totals, high walks, and there aren't really enough innings for me to determine if homeruns were really a problem or not.

Parque was in a high-homerun environment during his time in Chicago, and he had problems with the longball, except for in 2000. Getting him into a park where homeruns are not as much of a problem might make him a somewhat effective pitcher, or at least a suitable bargain considering the price of pitchers this winter. No one is going to throw a mound of cash at the feet of Jim Parque as he attempts to return from injury, but he's a guy who might be worth a flyer in spring training to see if he does indeed have his 2000 stuff back. He would be 31 years old, but it isn't like he is asking for a lifetime commitment either. The only thing I worry about is whether or not his shoulder will remain healthy over the course of 180-200 innings. Then again, it isn't like anyone is going to lose a lot of money investing in Parque, either.

Here's a listing of his similar pitchers, and a link to their statistics. Keep in mind that it may be skewed a little due to his shoulder injury hurting his statistics, but I don't think the difference would be that great, considering the low innings totals:

  1. Ryan Drese (968)
  2. Rob Bell (965)
  3. Jimmy Anderson (965)
  4. Mike Oquist (964)
  5. Jesus Sanchez (959)
  6. Casey Fossum (956)
  7. Bert Inks (955)
  8. Geremi Gonzalez (955)
  9. Runelvys Hernandez (952)
  10. Claudio Vargas (950)