The inevitable finally happened.
The Mariners released first baseman Richie Sexson after a year and a half of flat out embarrassing baseball.
He finished his Seattle career batting just .218 with 11 homers this season for a .696 OPS—unacceptable numbers for any major leaguer, let alone a supposed power-hitting first baseman.
After productive seasons for Seattle in 2005 and 2006, Sexson got off to a horrendous start in 2007 and never recovered.
Whether due to nagging injuries, a lack of confidence, or a loss of bat speed, Richie was unable to recover a consistent power stroke. His always mediocre batting average plunged to lows just over the Mendoza line.
Sexson seemed overmatched at the plate, watching 2-0 fastballs zip by for strikes and flailing at 3-2 breaking balls to strike out harmlessly.
His struggles led to him getting booed at home by the generally supportive and mild-mannered Mariner fans.
While Sexson was no doubt a large part of Seattle's failure to compete this year, there's also no question he was an easy target for fans' frustration with upper management, as were Mariner-for-a-month Brad Wilkerson and ex-manager John McLaren.
It wasn't McLaren's fault his players couldn't hit with runners in scoring position (.237, 28th in the majors). I'm sure he and hitting coach Jeff Pentland tried to improve Sexson's .123 average with RISP.
Only Raul Ibanez and Jose Lopez are hitting over .300 in run-scoring situations for the Mariners. Hell, even Ichiro is hitting just .219 with RISP.
But because of the team's struggles, McLaren and Pentland—and GM Bill Bavasi—were jettisoned.
And now Sexson is gone too.
2008 more and more closely resembles the Mariners' doomed 2004 campaign. After four consecutive successful years, Seattle collapsed in '04 and released first baseman John Olerud midseason.
With Sexson off the team, minor league first baseman Bryan LaHair is sure to be called up as soon as he recovers from a toe injury.
LaHair should keep in mind the example of Bucky Jacobsen, the beefy first baseman who was called up in 2004 as a stopgap and had some success—only to be replaced by Sexson in 2005.
Jacobsen hasn't played in the majors since.
Next on the 2008 hit list is sure to be Jose Vidro, he of the .214 average and disgusting .577 OPS.
And so we bid farewell to Richie Sexson, a Washington state native and once feared slugger.
Thank you for your two years of service, and no thanks for earning $15.5 million this year and last for being nothing but a warm body.
May both parties in this separation benefit—but with Miguel Cairo starting today's game at first base, that hardly seems likely for the Mariners in this star-crossed season.
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