Good riddance, Richie Sexson. You're finally gone.
The Seattle Mariners, the worst team in the American League, finally released the light-hitting first baseman that signed a four-year, $50-million contract in December of 2004 to play in the Emerald City.
Baseball fans outside of Seattle no doubt think Sexson did his job his first two seasons, until having a career-worst .205-average, 21-homer campaign in 2007.
That could not be further from the truth.
Yes, Sexson hit 39 homers in 2005, his first Mariner season, and clubbed another 34 the next year. Yes, Sexson finished in the Top-15 in AL MVP voting in '05. Then he followed that up by driving in over 100 runs and hitting above .260 for the second straight year.
Those, however, were not clutch seasons by any means.
In fact, in 2005, Sexson was hitting in the .220s in mid-May, as the Mariners slumped big-time out of the gate, losing 10 of 11 over one stretch during the month to fall out of the race early. By May 31, Seattle was already 9.5 games out.
On June 14, 2006, Sexson's batting average plummeted to an embarrassing .202. (Adrian Beltre, another prized signing in December, 2004, was hitting just .234 at that time, but that's another story.)
Thanks to Ichiro Suzuki, however, the M's were still in contention despite a sub-.500 record, only 4.5 out in the AL West.
A late-season surge helped Sexson finish at .264 in '06—he even teased everyone by bashing five homers and four doubles with a .382 average in the final nine games of the year—but the Mariners ended 15 games out.
So, those who don't live in Seattle and think Richie Sexson was unjustifiably booed don't know the whole story.
Last season was a total disaster, as his average was never higher than .231 after the first week of the season. He actually hit homers in the first two games of the year, as Seattle went 2-0.
Sexson posted five RBI in those two games.
And then the wheels simply fell off. It got so bad Sexson was hitting just .196 in early August, at a time when Seattle was 60-47 and only a half-game behind the Detroit Tigers for the Wild Card lead, and 2.5 games out of first in the West.
Had Sexson contributed, would the M's have run away with the division? (Yes, I know, Seattle actually led the Wild Card on August 24, a single game behind the Los Angeles Angels in the West, before a nine-game skid and 1-13 streak sunk the team, but still...)
Richie Sexson just didn't live up to expectations at all with the Mariners.
And now he's finally gone. With him goes a nearly tangible weight off the Mariners' roster, making it that much easier for the team to start fresh in the second half and maybe even get something positive together to carry over into next season.