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Gabe Gross Added To Pile; Name Describes Pile

Sure enough, the Mariners continue to stay active in handing out minor league contracts to anyone they see walking down the street from their third-story office. The latest guy to sign on is Gabe Gross, who I would refer to as the Gabe Gross of Brewers fame had he built up any fame at all.

Gross, like the others, receives an invitation to Spring Training. As a 31-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder, he joins Ryan Langerhans and Jody Gerut as 30+ year-old lefty-hitting outfielders on minor league contracts trying to break camp with the team. With Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, and (for now) Milton Bradley in front of them, their odds are long, but the Mariners are all about creating competition this time around, and based on the number of people invited to camp, by that they mean competition for everything, including food and locker room space. If too many players want to participate in a Spring Training game at another complex, they'll literally have to fight for a seat on the bus.

Gross came up with the Blue Jays and has spent time with the Brewers, Rays, and - most recently - the A's. He's built up a strong defensive reputation which is supported by the advanced metrics, and he's capable of playing all three positions. That's the good news. The bad news is that he hasn't really hit since 2006, putting up a .234/.323/.380 batting line over his last 1200 trips to the plate. He can draw a walk, and he can hit the ball out of the yard, but he doesn't do either often enough to make himself a contributor, and his 2010 campaign with Oakland was absolutely miserable.

But, we'll see what he can do, since that's what ST is all about. He had his best years with Milwaukee, which makes him extra appealing to Jack Zduriencik, and since then he's gotten opportunities from a pair of smart organizations, so he's not without his upside. As always, there isn't a whole lot of risk, here. Maybe in the end he just ends up helping the Rainiers, which is never a bad thing.

Your obligatory Gabe Gross fun fact is that he was selected 15th overall in the 2001 draft, two picks after Casey Kotchman, and three picks before Aaron Heilman. So the Mariners have wound up with three of the top 18 picks from that year. That's one way for an organization to salvage a first round in which its own selection was Michael Garciaparra.