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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

November 6, 2012 at 10:38 AM

A look at minor-league free agents — Mariners’ and otherwise (plus M’s winter league update, and Mariners claim OF Cousins)

UPDATE 11:32 A.M.: According to a tweet from his agent Sosnick Cobbe Sports — and now confirmed by the Mariners — outfielder Scott Cousins has been claimed by the Mariners off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cousins was a third-round pick of the Marlins in 2006 and has played 128 games in the majors for Florida/Miami, with a .188 average. Cousins, 27, hit .163 in 53 games with the Marlins this year, and .296 in 61 games with New Orleans at Triple-A. He gained a measure of noteriety for colliding with Buster Posey at the plate in May of 2011, resulting in a serious ankle injury (not knee — thanks, drlo) for Posey. The Mariners’ 40-man roster is now at 37.

Cousins has one option left, while Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells are all out of options. That means that if any of the latter trio doesn’t make the roster, they can be claimed by another team.

Cousins had just been claimed by the Blue Jays off waivers from the Marlins 20 days ago, on Oct. 17.

(Here is this week’s Mariners winter league update. Stefen Romero’s .378 batting average and Nick Franklin’s 1.001 OPS in the Arizona Fall League caught my eye. And if you missed, here’s a story I did for today’s paper on the efforts by Holli and Edgar Martinez to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief).

Baseball America today provided the full list of minor-league free agents, which is interesting on several levels.

For one thing, some of the 549 names on this list will no doubt find their way into the Mariners organization, and possibly onto their major-league roster at some point. There’s a lot of musical chairs in baseball when it comes to these guys.

Secondly, it’s always fascinating to see some of the ex-major leaguers who are still chasing the dream in the minor leagues. Some of the names that caught my eye: Felix Pie, Andy LaRoche, Seth McClung, Conor Jackson, Willie Harris, Brandon Wood (once considered just about the best prospect in the minors), Doug Davis, Kevin Kouzmanoff (once involved with a trade rumor for Chone Figgins when he played for Oakland), Corey Patterson, C.J. Nitkowski (now 39 and out of the majors since 2005), Adam Loewen, Manny Delcarmen, John Maine, Scott Elarton (who has been engaged in perpetual comeback mode for as long as I can remember) and Dallas McPherson.

Thirdly, it’s also interesting to catch up on former Mariners, fringe and otherwise. This is hardly a complete list, but among those who passed through Seattle and are now minor-league free agents are: Brett Tomko, Matt Mangini, Joel Pineiro, Horacio Ramirez (sigh), Ryan Rowland-Smith, Kanekoa Texeira, Sean White, Luke French, Matt Tuiasosopo, Tug Hulett, Jeff Clement, Ryan Garko, Chris Jakubauskas, and Jack Cust. Always Jack Cust.

Lastly, and most pertinent, it provides the list of current Mariners’ farmhands who are now free agents. Here it is:

RHP: Moises Hernandez (AA), David Pauley (AAA), Brian Sweeney (AAA)

LHP: Steve Garrison (AA), Jose Jimenez (AA)

C: Jesus Sucre (AA)

1B: Luis Jimenez (AAA)

2B: Carlos Ramirez (HiA), Luis Rodriguez (AAA)

3B: Leury Bonilla (AA)

OF: Johermyn Chavez (AA), Chih-Hsien Chiang (AA), Darren Ford (AAA), Kuo Hui Lo (AA)

Moises Hernandez, of course, is the older brother of Felix. Moises, who pitched in relief the past two years for Class AA Jackson, turns 29 in March.

David Pauley and Luis Rodriguez had fairly signficant time with the Mariners in the past, but Pauley was suspended 50 games last August for violating the drug policy, while Rodriguez didn’t get a September callup last year after hitting .296 for Tacoma.

Luis Jimenez, who got a cup of coffee with the Mariners last year – seven games, in which he went 1-for-17 – is on the list, and not for the first time in his career. At age 30, he’s settled into the minor-league journeyman’s role and will find a job after hitting .310 with 20 homers at Tacoma.

Johermyn Chavez is a painful one for the Mariners. He came from Toronto in the Brandon League-for-Brandon Morrow trade with the hope he would develop into a big-time power guy. He did hit 30 homers in 2010, but in High Desert, where the ball flies. The past two years, Chavez has hit 13 and 10 homers with a low average and a lot of strikeouts. But he’s just 23, so there’s still a little time for him to develop.

Chih-Hsien Chiang came over from Boston in the Erik Bedard trade with unreal numbers (.340/.402./.648 for Portland of the Eastern League). But it never carried over to the Seattle organization, and last year he had a .586 OPS in 40 games for Tacoma and .676 in 77 games for Jackson.

Update 11 a.m.: Mike Curto, the Tacoma announcer, just informed me that the Mariners have two additional minor-league free agents not on the Baseball America list. Mike Wilson and Cesar Jimenez are “elected” free agents.

Keep in mind that the Mariners can still sign some of these guys back, and probably will.

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