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Defending Richie Thursday, July 10, 2008

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
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We all knew it was coming, but the M’s officially cut ties with Richie Thursday morning, although snubbing him from the lineup Wednesday seemed to say it a day earlier. Now, I know there are M’s fans all over the place who have been praying for this day to come, but please tell me what’s worse here: paying over 7 million dollars for zero days of Richie Sexson for the remainder of the season, or giving him the chance to improve his game and guide some younger players on his way out for the same price?

And yes, I realize there are still many of you who would rather see him go, but his impact on the club the past three and some years has been substantial. Please, in your infinite wisdom, find me another player who can hit 30 some homers a year in Safeco Field, and I’ll stop typing right now… No?… No one?… Okay, yes, Barry could probably do it if he could still run around the bases (I kid, I kid), and there are a few guys out there with that kind of raw power, but few with the same team-first attitude of Richie Sexson.

Now I realize his power has been lacking, and nobody wants a .220 hitter with only a handful of dingers batting near the middle of the order, but wait… let’s take a close look at his replacements, shall we? Bryan LaHair? Nope… he needs more seasoning, the M’s say. Instead, let’s go with a platoon in Miguel Cairo and Jose Vidro. “Wait a sec” many of you say… Vidro’s still on the team? Yes, my fellow fans, our .214 hitting designated hitter (yes, that’s all he does all day long) will be taking over at first with the perennial “former great” Miguel Cairo (.222) by his side. How exactly is this a replacement? How is this a step up? And what’s Pelekoudas’ and Riggleman’s reasoning here? Check it out in another Jim Street gem.

Riggleman said it was because Wednesday’s lineup change was going to be a regular thing (i.e. pity). I’m going on the record today that there is NO WAY a Cairo/Vidro platoon is going to outperform even an admittedly struggling Big Richie. Now, you move Raul in from the outfield and give some emerging star a shot in the outfield… oh wait… we don’t have any emerging stars. We don’t even have enough quality AAA starting pitching to keep us from using a platoon bullpen starter twice in a row (3 times now with Bedard’s move to the DL today). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of giving Willie some time in the field, and Tug Hulett was a pretty cool Joe when I got to see him play in Spokane a few years ago, but they’re no future all-stars.

And how badly was Richie doing? Okay, it was bad. But, in typical Mariner fashion, improvement came right before he was cut. In June, Richie hit .282. Yes!!! That high!!! (although you won’t find that in a Jim Street or USS Mariner article anytime soon). Granted, his July numbers were down again, but he at least found a little power and managed to put a couple into the seats for a change of pace.

All I’m saying is, he was a good guy, and he will be missed by many here in Seattle. He loved the game, and had a community spirit that is consistently echoed by the most beloved players in Mariners’ history. Did he struggle for a season and a half? Yes. But was he pulling down the team or did this roster move make any sense? No. It was another idiotic move and I’m still amazed Bavasi had nothing to do with it.

Kick out Vidro, if you’re going to drop anyone. He’s cheaper, he has little to do with leadership in the clubhouse and let’s not forget that he only has one job: to bat, and that hasn’t exactly been stellar.

It seems the M’s have lost a little of the spirit that made them such a great club. Winning? Highly overrated in this fan’s eyes…

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