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March 21, 2007 at 3:26 PM

Mariners 7, Rockies 4, final score

A leadoff double by Jeremy Reed in the eighth led to another run when Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to the left side to bring him home a little later on. Jake Woods came on in relief for Seattle in the bottom of the inning and yielded a leadoff single, but then got the side 1-2-3 on a fly ball to center and to foul pop ups to the first and third base side. Woods allowed two more hits in the ninth, but got the final outs with no further damage.
I think it’s time we put a stop to some of the online chatter I’ve seen about a Richie Sexson-Ben Broussard swap of starting roles. Yes, Broussard has outhit Sexson this spring, but it is only the Cactus League folks. I’ll admit that I have been quick to point out Sexson’s slumps this spring. But do do you know what? He earns $14 million a season and should be able to handle the criticism when he doesn’t hit. So far, he has. I spoke to him the other day and he knows the patience of fans is running out when it comes to this team producing quickly this season and winning again.
That said, there is a huge difference between pointing out that Sexson has had trouble at the plate this spring and calling on him to be replaced by Broussard.
Sexson averages nearly 35 homers per season and drives in a minimum of 100 runs every year. Even in years like 2006, when he was terrible for two thirds of the time, he still puts up those numbers. You just won’t get that out of Broussard. As a bench player, Broussard adds value to this team. As a replacement for Sexson, not so.
Look, I do expect — yes, expect — Sexson to deliver a .900 on-base-plus-slugging percentage each and every year. He is being paid like the players who do that and when he falls short, he deserves criticism. In fact, I think Sexson is quite capable of a .950 OPS every season. He went over 1.000 from the all-star break onward last year and with a better start, could very well have reached .950 territory. He came close in 2005. Broussard has yet to have an OPS above .858 in any season and I do not think he is capable of breaking into the mid-.900s. He simply does not have Sexson’s raw power.
Do I expect Sexson to take the first two months off this year? Absolutely not. If he’s at a sub-.300 OBP and a sub-.700 OPS by mid-May, we can talk about Broussard. But these final two weeks are when hitters have to be perfecting their form. Sexson got a clean single today, following the two he had his last outing (yes, I know one was a borderline error) and absolutely drilled a ball to left that got blown back in by the heavy winds.
The season has yet to officially start. Any talk of Broussard surpassing Sexson now, no matter how bad he’s looked at times, is taking things too far.
I’ve been all over the bullpen of late and deservedly so. But the relievers did the job in this game. Woods allowed three hits, all singles, but zero runs over his two innings. Local favorite Sean White had the best outing of the relief pitchers, getting three quick ground ball outs in the seventh. He’s trying to keep his nerves in check and focus on his pitching, knowing he could very well be headed back to the Atlanta Braves in the next week as per Rule 5 regulations. Sean Green yielded a leadoff single in the sixth, but got the side in order after that.
Mariners closer J.J. Putz played catch again in Peoria this morning and came out of it fine. He’ll now take a day off, then likely throw a bullpen session. The team has yet to decide on what will actually happen next, so we’ll keep you updated.
After the bullpen session, whenever that is, the team will try to have Putz throw in a minor league game and then a major league game before camp breaks. But when I asked manager Mike Hargrove about it down on the field, he told me Putz doesn’t necessarily have to face major leaguers down here.
In other words, in a perfect world, Putz plays both the minor and major league game here.
If time runs out, he could just face the minor leaguers here and see his first major league action up in Seattle when the games count. At this stage, I’d still say it’s a toss-up on whether Putz is ready to pitch the first week of the season.
Perhaps I should have said “it’s time to inject some reality into the Sexson debate” instead of “put an end” to it. This, after reading a comment below in which a reader agreed not to talk any more about Sexson and Broussard flip-flopping their starter/reservist roles. Hey, I don’t want you folks to stop talking about it. Chat all you want. Even though I find the idea way too premature and a tad illogical. My word isn’t the last one out there. If you feel you have a compelling argument to make, go ahead and make it. Keep making it. So long as you’re respectful, I don’t care if you go on all week about it.
There are very few topics we can’t discuss in this forum. Sexson and Broussard certainly do not qualify as one of those.
Wow, the temperature has really fallen here in lovely Tucson. Just one more day to go on this particular trip, then back to Peoria for a final week. Hope you’ve all enjoyed the spring so far. A couple of mornings on the road have gotten off to a slow start blog-wise because of scheduling of things, travel and computer glitches. But we are dedicated to getting you as much info as possible in a reasonable amount of time. And I am trying to get all of you the pre-game lineups and some game action whenever possible.



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