(*Thanks to reader David M. Horn for the grammar lesson: stink, stank, stunk.)
In checking over the list of unsigned free agents — dominated, of course, by Manny Ramirez, who should just end the charade and sign with the Dodgers, which we all know he’s going to do, sooner or later — I was hit by two familiar names:
Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro.
It looks like it could be the end of the line for both players, both at age 34 — not exactly their prime, but young enough to have a few good years left. If they had anything left, which the baseball world has apparently concluded they don’t. If they haven’t found a job by now, it doesn’t look good.
And those were two key pieces of the Mariners’ lineup last year, supposedly vital cogs of a team that management and much of the media (myself, I must admit, included) thought would contend in, if not win, the AL West.
Sexson hit .218 in 74 games. The Mariners released him on July 10, and the Yankees promptly signed him eight days later. Sexson barely lasted a month with the Yankees, getting two extra-base hits in 28 at-bats before they, too, released him on Aug. 24.
Vidro hit .234 with seven homers and 45 RBI for the Mariners, somehow managing to start 53 games in the No. 3, 4 or 5 spot in the batting order before getting released on Aug. 13. Unlike Sexson, he didn’t find another job. Oh, yes: the Mariners paid those two a combined $22.5 million last year.
You can throw into that mix Brad Wilkerson, the Mariners’ regular right fielder at the outset of the season, until he was released on May 7, having produced four extra-base hits and plodding outfield play in 19 games. Wilkerson, paid $3 million by the Mariners, finished the year without much distinction for the Blue Jays. He recently signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox, who are looking for outfield insurance after losing Mark Kotsay to back surgery in January. Wilkerson is trying to make the team as a backup first baseman and fifth outfielder, perhaps only holding down a spot until Kotsay’s return in early May.
So there you have it: Three members of the Mariners’ 2008 lineup to start the season. Two out of baseball, and one fighting for a reserve role.
That explains 101 losses just as eloquently as clubhouse strife.
(Seattle Times photo by Rod Mar)