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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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July 10, 2008 12:08 PM

Sexson's "body language" final straw

Posted by Geoff Baker

sexxson0710 020.jpg

Just got back up from the field on an eventful day for the Mariners. By the way, Ichiro has just been scratched with tightness in his hamstring. Had played in 126 consecutive games since his last off-day. The hits just keep on coming, don't they? Anyhow, it turns out that Richie Sexson was told he'd be released last night at the team hotel in nearby San Francisco. What prompted the team to do this? Interim GM Lee Pelekoudas said the decision had been formulating in his mind the past several days. He said the fact Sexson hit a three-run homer here in Monday's opener and then followed up with a double on Tuesday did not hamper the call one way or the other.

But when I spoke to manager Jim Riggleman moments ago, he told me that the "body language" Sexson displayed yesterday when kept out of the lineup was what ultimately led him not to oppose the release.

"If I felt that he could handle the next couple of weeks with less playing time, I would not have agreed with the move,'' Riggleman told me. "But yesterday, his body language was such that he looked like he wasn't going to handle it at all.''

We've been telling you all year that this Mariners clubhouse has not been the most joyous place. Things have started to look up a bit in recent weeks, after the firings of Bill Bavasi and John McLaren and some winning by the ballclub. The last thing Riggleman wanted was Sexson to become a focal point for disenchantment that would upset the delicate balance the club is trying to achieve for the time being.

Sexson was a popular guy in the clubhouse, with teammates always around him.

"He needs to play, or go someplace else he can play,'' Riggleman said.

That wasn't going to be here. Riggleman had decided to only start him agaunst lefties and then find ways to use him in limited roles versus righthanders.

"The manager's got to be able to make a lineup out without feeling somebody's going to be unhappy,'' he said, "If we sat Willie Bloomquist and he was unhappy, we could handle it. But if one of your big boys is down in the dumps, that can take others down.''

Riggleman likened it to Frank Thomas being released by Toronto a while back. Once a big-time player becomes upset over playing time, he said, it's a potentially huge distraction.

"He's part of the identity of the team,'' he said. "And when the identity of the team is sitting down, everybody wonders what the heck is going on.''

Riggleman added: "Look, I've been managing here for 19 days. I've sat him twice and seen the same reaction both times. It wasn't going to work.''

The team will go with Miguel Cairo at first base today, facing Oakland southpaw Greg Smith, and against other left handers. Jose Vidro gets to face the righties for now. If there's a lefty matchup that historically favors Vidro, he'll be put in as well.

sexxson0710 030.jpg

Check out the sink on that baby!

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Posted by Mariner Optimist

12:15 PM, Jul 10, 2008

That's pretty funny. We've chosen to replace Richie Sexson with Tug Hulett over body language issues.

Curse you Vidro, and your unreadable body poses!

Posted by fc

12:22 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Check out the sink on that baby!


Posted by Klatzy

12:22 PM, Jul 10, 2008

cough Vidro cough

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:24 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Wow. I really don't know how I feel about this. Poor production for a year and a half wasn't enough on its own to merit dismissal?

And I can already hear Novice writing angry letters from here, seeing Riggleman infer that WFB isn't one of the big boys. ;)

Seriously, it is kind of odd that Riggleman used a specfic player by name as an example of one of their lower-tier guys. I don't disagree with his statement; I think it's just unusual to hear a manager be that specific and candid about someone's place in the pecking order.

I also admit that I'm parsing his words a bit too much, and should just go get lunch. :)

Posted by Village Idiot

12:26 PM, Jul 10, 2008

The Cards will most likely trade for Washburn. With Mulder on the DL and the fact that he hadn't made a start since 2006 before yesterday would suggest they will be looking to replace him. Bedard is to expensive and the Cards can't afford him. I have no idea who we could get for him. They would never let go of Ankiel, maybe Chirs Duncan? Bottom line we need power and the Cards could provide it.

Posted by BrianL

12:27 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Body language?

Good Lord. Even when this team does something right they do it for the wrong reasons.

Posted by cesame

12:27 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Vidro and Cairo playing 1B....I love Mariners baseball.

Posted by JoeSomebody

12:28 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Yikes. Kind of bad management style to use a utility guy's name as a 'if we sat this loser nobody would care' example.

Posted by Edgar FM

12:28 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Yeah...I'm not buying this

Posted by Ben

12:29 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Any word on the role of Tug and Wells?

Posted by Corkydarts

12:29 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Geoff I have a question. I heard in an interview yesterday that Silva was sticking up for Sexson and that he was popular with the players. Have you heard anything from the players about how they feel about his release?

Posted by DisgruntledSeasonTicketHolder

12:32 PM, Jul 10, 2008

silva sticking up for richie?

if i was silva, i would too because that means his time (release) is coming, too.

Posted by BrianL

12:33 PM, Jul 10, 2008

So...Ichiro doesn't get a day off this season, and now he's got a tight hammy?

Surely, no one saw this coming.

Brilliant management, Mac and Riggleman.

Posted by scottM

12:34 PM, Jul 10, 2008

"Check out the sink on that baby!"

You're back sliding, Geoff. Gotta watch your body language.

Posted by griffeyfanforlife

12:36 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Hey, I'm all for it. If Riggs saw Sexson pouting, I'm glad they sent the message to teh rest of the team - "You pout, you lose your job." Simple as that. The truth is, Willie would never do that to his manager, no matter how much he wanted to play.

They need to keep cutting whomever it is and rebuild this team to fight hard every game, every at-bat. I'd rather see Tug Hulett show up and hustle right now than hear about Richie's new batting stance or whatever caused him to strike out.

Posted by Anti-Ichiro League

12:37 PM, Jul 10, 2008

So does this mean the guy with the worst body language will be gone soon? If so the line up today could become very familiar.

Posted by Tom

12:37 PM, Jul 10, 2008

It's about time someone on this team spoke the obvious truth. Riggleman is a breath of fresh air in the management of this franchise. Fans and players are not idiots, and they can appreciate the straight dope when they hear it. Let's hope Riggleman works out for the long term.

Posted by Ry

12:44 PM, Jul 10, 2008

The record stands at 36-55 and the M's worried about the "delicate balance in the clubhouse"? Why? This season is OVER. I've been a big critic of Sexson as well but it's not as if he was blocking some highly touted kid at 1B. If you're given the choice between paying a guy 14 mil to sit on your bench (and maybe contribute once in a while) or to play for an entirely different organization, why would you cut him? You still have to pay him!

Posted by Henry Oatis

12:45 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Who the heck cares how the player's feel about this..

Our clubhouse is garbage. Are some of u really concerned with the reaction some of the players might have in regards to this move?

Goodbye Richie.. you suck.. im glad i never have to watch u play in an M's uniform again..

Posted by fred

12:46 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Riggleman is just a puppet a talking head

Posted by Miles

12:46 PM, Jul 10, 2008

I'm surprised at the criticism over the "body language" comment. Note that Pelekoudas didn't say that, Riggleman said he didn't oppose it because of Sexson's attitude to not being a regular every day hitter.

Here's the thing: either way the M's are paying Sexson's salary. We can all say "dump him," but they still pay. So, if they thought he could have some value as a bench or situational player, there's nothing wrong with keeping him around for that. In other words, the M's clearly had given up on a turnaround, finally. Richie made it clear he wasn't going to be happy in a reduced role so they let him go.

Posted by scottM

12:47 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Right on, Tom. If after all this team has suffered because of Richie Sexon's batting woes, he can't act professionally, then he is part of the culture of losing and entitlement that has to change. That is not a dumb reason to dumb Sexson now (or preferable instead of DFAing Norton last May).

Posted by fred

12:48 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Tug Hulett? great now we have 3 guys that do pretty much the same thing Willie, Cairo and now Hulett...

Posted by Go Riche Go

12:50 PM, Jul 10, 2008

What is it about a player, oh, say, Richie Sexson, who is doing virtually nothing for the team yet assumes he deserves to play and if he doesn't, that he has a good reason to complain? Talk about entitlement!

Posted by WillieB

12:52 PM, Jul 10, 2008

"The manager's got to be able to make a lineup out without feeling somebody's going to be unhappy,'' he said, "If we sat Willie Bloomquist and he was unhappy, we could handle it. But if one of your big boys is down in the dumps, that can take others down.''

How rude!!

Posted by Richie's Body Language

12:55 PM, Jul 10, 2008

There's nothing wrong with me. Have you seen WFB's body language? That guys got issues. Mariner baseball, My Oh My!

Posted by Donovan

12:59 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Guys - C'mon, use your decoder rings a little better. "Body language" doesn't mean he slouches a little. It means he has become a morose malcontent who is in denial about the degeneration of his limited ability. This is what most bloggers have been clamoring for all year.

Richie was let go because he a) can't hit anymore, b) nobody will give us anything for him, and c) he still has a prima donna attitude in spite of a) and b). I see nothing to criticize about this move or Riggleman's comments. Nice to hear the unvarnished truth for a change. Sexson's roster spot was a waste and his salary a sunk cost. Let's get somebody up who might have trade value and showcase them a little. Let Richie warm some other team's bench if he can manage to get picked up, and good luck to him if he does.

Posted by ghph

1:02 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Re: role of Tug Hullet: Tim Hullet was a gamer, did what he was told, played hard, played thru injuries. Didn't sulk when sent to the bench or had to sign minor-league deals to stay in the majors. Always seemed to come up with a big pinch-hit when it mattered. It's a close-knit & deeply religious family, if I remember right.

Maybe Tug's got the same personality as his dad, and that is something that the Mariners' certainly could use more of. I am wishing him well.

Posted by Mike

1:18 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Again, I have no problems dumping Richie...but now we are putting out far worse hitters at 1B, neither of whom will be with the team next year.

Let's see if Raul can handle first....or LaHair (I know he's not that good but he'd be better than a Vidro/Cairo tag team).

Posted by mpowercc

1:24 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Jose Vidro vs. RHP: .214/.269/.313
Miguel Cairo vs. LHP: .154/.353/.154 (In 13 ABs)

Vidro/Cairo Combined Line: .209/.302/.308
Richie Sexon: .218/.315/.381

I am no Sexson fan, but dumping him makes no sense unless you replace him with someone better. It doesn't matter if you are benching him or releasing him or limiting his playing time. If your plan is to put either Miguel Cairo or Jose Vidro at first base instead, you are better off playing Sexson everyday

Posted by kbobert

1:26 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Being a Sexon fan since he joined the orginization, part of me is sad to see him go. I understand that decisions for the betterment of the team must be made but this decision does not come with out a bit of sadness. Who remembers the walk-offs, specifically, who remembers the grand slam walk off in the bottom of the 10th against the blue jays in 2006?
I guess that says it all right there....2006. For the last two years Big Richie has been mired in a slump that WAY too much thinking has only made worse.
I'll miss ya big guy and I'll instantly become a part-time fan of whatever team picks you up.

Posted by Donovan

1:40 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Mike - You said it. None of those guys will be at 1B next season, and today doesn't matter. Until the end of July, the lineup is largely going to revolve around potential trades and dangling players who might be involved. After that, the tryouts for 2009 start. In any case, none of the remaining games really matter beyond gaging the abilities and combinations of players on the payroll. By mid-August, I think we will see a lot more sorting of the roster, and get to see what some of the fresh talent can do (or old talent in new roles). I don't particularly enjoy seeing anybody let go, but I'm glad they are getting on with the necessary moves. I look forward to some vision of the future by this time next month.

Posted by Jimbome

2:05 PM, Jul 10, 2008

This is long overdue, and one has to wonder if the attitude/body language Sexson has displayed has been simmering for a much longer period of time. Also, one has to wonder, did it spill over into the clubhouse--given his popularity among his teammates? Cancer of the attitude can be devastating to team chemistry.

Sexson didn't produce, and his bad attitude ended his tenure as a Mariner. He has only himself to blame on both counts.

It's time to give someone else, Cairo, Vidro, AAA player or otherwise, a chance to prove he can deal with big league pitching. It's also time to send a message to the clubhouse--no one's sacred.

Posted by RustyJohn

2:05 PM, Jul 10, 2008

That's a great start, M's management. Now here's a list of who you should release next:


Posted by drake

2:19 PM, Jul 10, 2008

The timing was only weird in that we still have no one to play first base. I can understand pursuing a 1B via trade or whatever, but to swap out a struggling 1B with just as bad or worse hitting utility infielders -- who have no future with the organization -- makes absolutely no sense.

I'd have 'body language' too, if I was the only option at 1B on a team and was told I'd be playing a lot less. My look would be, 'what is wrong with this organization?'

Posted by LAMariner

2:27 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Go Riggs. You bashers should note that the body language issue affected the TIMING of the decision, not its eventuality. I'm all for a move that says "whining" won't help you keep your job. It nicely frames the notion that performance is more important. I'm glad we have a manager that manages. The timing is PERFECT.

Posted by ls

2:28 PM, Jul 10, 2008

i really hope they dont make due on any of the offers for bedard. I pretty sure that anyone we get for him wont be as good as he is due to the tarnish of short outings and questionable attitude, and i think if theyre really planning on moving morrow to a starter; the prospect of having felix, morrow, bedard, and maybe RA next year is exciting. Bedard is a solid pitcher, and it seems to me our pitching isnt really the problem with the team, its the run support.

Posted by Spokane E-Six

2:42 PM, Jul 10, 2008

QUOTE: Riggleman added: "Look, I've been managing here for 19 days. I've sat him twice and seen the same reaction both times. It wasn't going to work.''

That's all I need to know. Good move, Rig!

Posted by JP

3:06 PM, Jul 10, 2008

It took body language to get someone released?? Seriously, if that was the case then why not just release the whole team. I haven't seen one guy that plays on a regular basis look like they care. This is just another expected but tardy move by the M's. This had to be done period! Next to go Vidro..Trade Bedard to the Cards, Washburn to Philly, Rhodes to anyone who needs a situational lefty and Ibanez who is a free agent at the end of the year. Why wait it out. You know what you have. Again the FO sits on thier thumbs! Fans can only be patient for so long....but i am sure i will watch the replay of today's game this evening... i hate this!

Posted by Dave from the Coast

3:27 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Well, 'body language' is indicative of a lot of things. I suppose that's a valid reason, or a catch-phrase for the moment conveniently implemented by the Powers That Be...but I think we all know that it was much more than body language that got Mr. Sexson dismissed from the team. A .390 hitter could have all the bad body language in the world, after all, and hang onto his job. As far as "check out the sink on that baby!, well, that applies to this season, huh?

Posted by BWare

3:29 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Doesn't surprise me so much as it cements my impression of the M's front office as very ineffective and not so smart.

You can't pawn Sexon off on another team in a "PTBNL deal", yet he will glide his way to another ballclub on the M's dime. Obviously, the FO doesn't have many friends out there. Who did those guys piss off?

Apparently, all the other teams see blood in the water, with no friend among the masses willing to toss Pele a life raft.

Scary to think how the other transactions are going to turn out for the M's. Better find a GM quick lest there be more eating at the M's payroll buffet table.

Posted by Terry

3:49 PM, Jul 10, 2008

OMG, the Ms should just stop talking. Please. It only makes them look foolish when they do and this is really a move few would question.


Posted by Deepthroat

4:26 PM, Jul 10, 2008

WHO CARES WHY?!?! Ding dong the witch is gone!!!! Good ridance!!!!!! Ritchie was and continues to be a complete waste of time and money.

Posted by Deepthroat

4:28 PM, Jul 10, 2008

WHO CARES WHY?!?! Ding dong the witch is gone!!!! Good ridance!!!!!! Ritchie was and continues to be a complete waste of time and money.

Posted by Sager Bombs

4:38 PM, Jul 10, 2008

I just called Norm's in Fremont, and they're waiting to see if he gets picked up by someone else before they decide what to do with Sexon Batting Average Beer Night.

Posted by Mariner's secret brainstem

5:15 PM, Jul 10, 2008

I think they need to replace everyone on the team with utility infielders. This is a good start, but we still have a player or two who hits an occasional double. Double are confusing, it is one hits or two? We need more players who hit singles, or better yet, stay off base all together. You can get hurt running around the bases, those things are easy to trip over. Injuries could kill our chances for the playoffs.

Posted by Steven

5:52 PM, Jul 10, 2008

This is the worst time ever to be a Mariners fan. Well, let me rephrase that, this is the worst time in my lifetime (23 years) to be a Mariners fan. I was a Blazers fan through the jailblazer days, but this is far worse. The Mariners need to hire the next Kevin Pritchard right now. Heck forget the next Kevin Pritchard, just hire the real one- I'm sure he can figure out baseball.

Posted by lorenzo

7:44 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Vidro is the one that needs to go. He is the king of the double play...hitting into one that is. Richie had to have some value to someone. M's should have worked a trade. Just another "receive nothing in return" move in a long line of personnel blunders.

Posted by wineboy

9:03 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Any player who is happy to be sat doesn't belong playing at the major laegua level. That being said Sexson should have been released long ago, but Riggleman and Pelekoudas are doing this for the wrong reasons. Hopefully, they'll decide to release themselves at the end of the year. Perhaps there will be more competent people to take their place. One has to hope ... since the players they are replacing Sexson with are even worse than Sexson was. And I thought the Mariners could get no worse. Wrong again!!

Posted by NoMoMojo

10:55 PM, Jul 10, 2008

Breaking news: Mariners hire "posture coach" to work with disgruntled, underachieving veterans. Details at 11.

Posted by LadyCalaLily

5:52 AM, Jul 11, 2008

It's about time. Richie Sexon is only "rich" in his name and the money the team paid him to deliver the goods. He never fulfilled his potential. Then to be upset because he wasn't playing? That's not professional at all.

If you get paid the big bucks, you should deliver or make way for someone who will.

This team should have been in the lead this year, not the cellar. Richie's lack of production, and bad attitude are only a part of the problem, but sometimes it's a whole lot better to cut bait if you can't fish.

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