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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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June 19, 2008 9:55 AM

Sexson watch is on

Posted by Geoff Baker

We all get a break today from having to watch the Mariners. Richie Sexson might get a permanent break from this team at any moment.

The reasons why have all been talked about. For the record, I don't think Sexson ducking the media the past few weeks is all that big a deal. He knows he's done in Seattle. Knows that whatever he says now can't help his cause. Figures it could only inflame a volatile situation. He'd been pretty up front and accountable about his play earlier on this season, when the team still had a shot and he was dragging it down. Was one of the first guys into the clubhouse after his role in igniting that brawl against the Texas Rangers.

For me, this is not the same as guys who have ducked the media before. Some continue to do so. Others have recently started. This is a team in turmoil. Sexson is merely choosing not to add to that. He's taken his beatings in public and in the media. Now, he merely wants to slink off in silence. I respect that. Remember, it's never good form to kick a guy who's already down for the count. So, keep that in mind today as we prepare to bid him adieu.

We all know the reasons why Sexson's departure is coming. Know why this team is as bad as it is. Or, on second thought, maybe we don't quite grasp the scope of it yet. The Mariners are truly a powerless bunch. No, seriously. They have no power. Dead last in the American League with a .374 slugging percentage. I mean, wow. Lou Piniella's team, the Cubs, have a .360 on-base percentage.

When just 14 points separates your slugging from someone else's on-base, it's time to consider a different type of job.

It gets even worse. In June, the M's have the worst slugging percentage in all of baseball at .348. There are six AL and two NL squads with higher on-base percentages for the month.

Aren't numbers fun? Let's continue.

Sexson is slugging only .282 for the month of June. And he's been starting at first base just about every day. Has 46 at-bats already. Now you know why the team is going to shed itself of him. Forget about his ability to hit lefties. He only faces them once every five games on average. Most of his lefty numbers were compiled early in the season -- the ones that involve power, anyway.

Teams can't afford to carry a singles hitter at first base. Not at DH. Nor in right field. For just about the entire season, the M's have done so at all three spots.

Sexson's last extra-base hit was a home run in New York back on May 24. Yes, on Memorial Day weekend. We're getting ready for the Fourth of July now and he's still hitting singles. Since that May 6 brawl against the Rangers, he has three -- yes three -- extra-base hits. Two homers and a double. And he's still here. Taking his place in the lineup every day.

Jose Vidro has not been any better. Well, OK, he's been microscopically better. Since May 24, he's notched two extra base hits -- both home runs. But he's not a home run guy. He's supposed to be a line drive, doubles hitter. So, by off chance, anyone remember his last double? Has a pair of them, actually -- back on May 23. It's now June 19.

Oh yeah, then there's Wladimir Balentien. I know, I know, it's tough to pick on the rookie. But if we're looking at why this team has tanked, you can't play favorites. The team's primary right fielder, prior to getting demoted to Class AAA earlier in the week, had just one extra-base hit -- a double -- since May 16. His last home run came way back on May 12.

I mean, those are any team's three power positions. Add up the extra-base numbers the M's have received from RF, DH and 1B combined over the past month and the total would not be enough to justify keeping one player in a power slot. Never mind three.

Jeremy Reed has just one extra-base hit -- a home run -- in June. He has only two extra-base hits since joining the team a month ago. But even his slugging percentage is higher than the three guys who had been regulars at power positions. Oh yeah, and his .774 on-base-plus slugging percentage leads the team.

Welcome to bizarro world.

Oh, and it gets better tomorrow night. That's when Mariners castoff Jorge Campillo, sporting a 2.17 ERA (and an ERA+ of 187), takes on pseudo Mariners "ace'' Erik Bedard and his 4.14 ERA and ERA+ of 96. Wanted a storyline? There it is.


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