- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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Adam Rubin of ESPNNew York had a story the other day about the Mets fielding an all homegrown lineup (at least before David Wright went out with his fractured pinkie). In that piece, Rubin had a note that Seattle Mariners organization had produced the most players on Opening Day rosters (including disabled lists).
After all, this isn't actually a franchise known for producing stellar drafts over the past 15 years. But the Mariners had 36 players originally drafted or signed by them on Opening Day rosters, three more than the Rangers. The only other franchises with at least 30 players were the Twins with 32, and the Braves with 31.
So who are those 36 players? Let's take a look.
1. Omar Vizquel: Signed as amateur free agent out of Venezuela, 1984.
Traded to the Indians for Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson, Dec. 1993.
Vizquel hit .311 in 15 games for Butte, Mont., that summer and made five errors. Vizquel was the only Copper Kings player to eventually play in the major leagues. And if you run into somebody from Butte who said they saw Vizquel play, they're probably lying. Butte averaged about 800 fans per game.
2. Derek Lowe: Eighth-round pick, 1991.
Traded to Red Sox with Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb, 1997
3. David Ortiz: Signed as amateur free agent out of Dominican Republic, 1992.
Traded to Twins for Dave Hollins, Aug. 1996.
Yes, Dave Hollins. Not even a July trade. A late August trade. Hollins did drive in 25 runs in 28 games, but Mariners missed the playoffs anyway.
4. Raul Ibanez: 36th-round draft pick, 1992.
Signed as a free agent by Kansas City, 2001.
Originally a catcher, Ibanez was never a top prospect for Seattle, although he did become a bench player for them. He didn't get a chance to be a full-time player until he was 30 years old with the Royals in 2002. Later returned to Seattle and had some years there.
5. Alex Rodriguez: First-round pick, 1993
Lost as free agent after 2000.
6. Brian Fuentes: 25th-round pick, 1995.
Traded to Rockies in Jeff Cirillo deal, Dec. 2001.
I remember being very excited when the Mariners acquired Cirillo.
7. Rafael Soriano: Signed as amateur free agent out of Dominican Republic, 1996.
Traded to Braves for Horacio Ramirez, Dec. 2006.
A trade that made no sense at the time and proved to be a terrible one.
8. Matt Thornton: First-round pick, 1998.
Traded to White Sox for Joe Borchard, March 2006.
Borchard played six games for the Mariners and was released.
9. Scott Atchison: 49th-round pick, 1998.
Lost as free agent after 2006 season.
10. Willie Bloomquist: Third-round pick, 1999.
Lost as free agent after 2008.
11. J.J. Putz: Sixth-round pick, 1999.
12. Shin-Soo Choo: Signed as amateur free agent out of South Korea, 2000.
Traded to Indians for Ben Broussard, July 2006.
The first of two horrible deals then-GM Bill Bavasi made that summer for an ill-fated run at the playoffs.
13. Jose Lopez: Signed as amateur free agent out of Venezuela, 2000.
Traded to the Rockies for Chaz Roe, Dec. 2010.
14. Ichiro Suzuki: Signed as free agent out of Japan, 2001.
He's a free agent after this season. He's now 38 and still more than 500 hits from 3,000. Do the Mariners bring him back?
15. Greg Dobbs: Signed as amateur free agent, 2001
Selected by Phillies on waivers, 2007.
16. Felix Hernandez: Signed as amateur free agent out of Venezuela, 2002.
Reached the majors after just 48 minor-league starts.
17. Asdrubal Cabrera: Signed as amateur free agent out of Venezuela, 2002.
Traded to Indians for Eduardo Perez, June 2006.
At the time of the deal, Cabrera was a 20-year-old infielder who had already reached Triple-A. He was hitting just .236, but had skipped Double-A after hitting .295 in Class A. Perez retired at the end of the season. Ouch.
18. Luis Valbuena: Signed as amateur free agent out of Venezuela, 2002.
Traded to Indians in the three-way deal with the Mets in 2008.
19. Bryan LaHair: 39th-round draft pick, 2002.
The Mariners didn't re-sign him after 2009, after a couple cups of coffee.
20. George Sherrill: Purchased from Winnipeg of independent Northern League, 2003.
Back with the Mariners after playing for the Braves in 2011.
21. Adam Jones: First-round pick, 2003.
Traded to Orioles in Erik Bedard deal, 2008.
22. Eric O'Flaherty: Sixth-round pick, 2003.
Placed on waivers after 2008 season.
This was an odd move at the time. O'Flaherty had pitched well as a 22-year-old rookie in 2007, but got bombed in seven appearances at the start of the 2008 seasons, battled some injuries and they let him go. He's been a quality reliever the past three seasons with the Braves.
23. Mark Lowe: Fifth-round pick, 2004.
24. Michael Saunders: 11th-round pick, 2004.
Once-touted prospect has .198 career average in majors. Getting a chance to play with Franklin Gutierrez on the DL.
25. Michael Pineda: Signed as amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, 2005.
26. Alex Liddi: Signed as amateur free agent from Italy, 2005.
27. Justin Thomas: Fifth-round, 2005.
Claimed by Pirates on waivers, 2009. Made Red Sox roster.
28. Anthony Varvaro: 12th-round pick, 2005.
Claimed by Braves on waivers, Jan. 2011. Opened season on DL.
29. Brandon Morrow: First-round pick, 2006.
Traded to Blue Jays for Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez, Dec. 2009.
30. Adam Moore: Sixth-round pick, 2006.
Opened season on Mariners' DL.
31. Doug Fister: Seventh-round pick, 2006.
32. Erasmo Ramirez: Signed as amateur free agent from Nicaragua, 2007.
The youngest player in the majors, Ramirez opened season with M's despite posting a 4.83 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011.
33. Dustin Ackley: First-round pick, 2009.
34. Kyle Seager: Third-round pick, 2009.
35. Munenori Kawasaki: Free agent out of Japan, 2012.
36. Hisashi Iwakuma: Free agent out of Japan, 2012.
So there you go, 36 players, with a heavy international flavor. If the Mariners had kept all these guys, would it actually be much of a team? Here is a 25-man roster:
2B Dustin Ackley
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH David Ortiz
CF Adam Jones
1B Bryan LaHair
LF Ichiro Suzuki
C Adam Moore
Bench -- Kyle Seager, Willie Bloomquist, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Doug Fister
SP Brandon Morrow
SP Michael Pineda
SP Derek Lowe
RP J.J. Putz
RP Matt Thornton
RP Rafael Soriano
RP Eric O'Flaherty
RP Mark Lowe
RP Erasmo Ramirez
RP Hisashi Iwakuma
That's a pretty good team, no? OK, Fister and Pineda are currently on the DL, but we can temporarily move Ramirez and Iwakuma into the rotation. The bullpen is terrific at the back end, and the first six guys in the lineup are going to put some runs on the board. This team needs a catcher. Maybe Ibanez can still play there.
Let's put it this way: It would be a much more exciting team than the real 2012 Mariners.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.
4dJim Caple, ESPN Senior Writer