Richie Sexson

Dave · November 9, 2004 at 3:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Since he’s the target of a host of uncited rumors, here’s the mini-article on Richie Sexson.

Richie Sexson is perhaps the sluggingest of the sluggers in baseball right now. He’s a huge man, 6’8 and about 240 pounds of long ball launching power. He came up through the Indians system in the late 90’s, blocked by Jim Thome at first base. The Tribe sent him to Milwaukee for a host of mediocre, injured relievers in one of John Hart’s worst moves. He blossomed into an elite hitter in his prime with the Brewers, peaking at a huge .272/.379/.548 season in 2003. He also established himself as one of the premier defensive first baseman in the game, and the combination of offense and defense he brought to the table in 2003 made him a legitimate MVP candidate in the non-Bonds category.

The Brewers couldn’t afford him, so they sent him to Arizona for seven dwarves, a lucky rabbits foot, a partridge, and a pear tree. He promptly proceeded to tear his labrum on April 29th and miss three weeks. He came back, aggrivated the injury two days later, and spent the rest of the season on the disabled list.

The positives; a year ago, he was considered one of the premier players in the game at his position. I guess make that “positive”.

The negatives; he’s coming off a serious injury that has a long history of wearing down a players abilities quickly and few positive comebacks. He turns 30 years old next month, already possesses old player skills, and has an abnormally large frame. Even a healthy Sexson would be expected to begin his decline shortly. Coming off a serious injury, there’s legitimate question as to whether he’ll ever regain previous form.

Very high risk, moderately high reward. He’s not a long term answer like Adrian Beltre would be. At best, you’re hoping for 3-5 years before looking for his replacement, and you’ll be paying for decline years at a peak rate. Sexson reportedly turned down a contract from Arizona that would have paid him $30 million over 3 years if he hit playing time incentives, instead asking that all three years of the contract be guaranteed.

Folks, if the Diamondbacks don’t want to guarantee three years to Sexson a year after giving up Curt Schilling and Lyle Overbay to get him and coming off a PR disaster that was that managerial hiring process, that should be a huge red light. Arizona wants Sexson back, and are likely to offer him arbitration, but the fact that they’re concerned enough with his health to take a year-by-year approach is a sign that they don’t know what they have, either.

If Richie Sexson wants three years of guaranteed money, look elsewhere. If he’s willing to take an incentive laden contract with team options for the second and third years, its worth investigating. Overall, he’s a bit too high of a risk for my tastes, as I don’t think this team can afford to sink any more of its payroll into players who won’t be contributing in 2005.


68 Responses to “Richie Sexson”

  1. Pete on November 10th, 2004 10:55 am

    All this talk about Carlos Guillen…

    It’s made me think of a harsh fact: How much easier would this daunting off-season seem with an All-Star type player with a smooth glove manning shortstop…not to mention a perfect #2 hitter. For me, it would make this whole process seem so much less intimidating and difficult. I suppose we’d still need a couple of powerful bats…but the “holes” (esp. one filled with a 20 year old) would be reduced to first base and center field.

    Miss you Carlos.

  2. Ryan Carson on November 10th, 2004 12:06 pm

    Stark was also on KJR saying this morning that this was all but a done deal, and he thinks that the deal is around 3 years, $4mil with incentives that could double it. If this is real, then I’m willing to take that risk. Besides, its so typical of the M’s approach of bringing back locally grown talent b/c they can’t sign any good Dominicans…:-)

  3. Pete on November 10th, 2004 12:08 pm


  4. Dave on November 10th, 2004 12:11 pm

    Stark is wrong.

    For what its worth, though, getting Sexson for 3 years and only guaranteeing $12 million with a ceiling of $24 million would be an out and out steal. On this one, I wish Stark was right. He’s not, unfortunately.

  5. PositivePaul on November 10th, 2004 12:15 pm

    Let’s hope so. If they pull an Ibanez on him, I’m going to EXPLODE

  6. msb on November 10th, 2004 1:02 pm

    What Stark said was he too has heard the rumors that this is a done deal.

  7. msb on November 10th, 2004 2:02 pm

    #47-“Why does everyone seem to consider Troy Glaus such a better risk than Sexson? I thought Glaus had more of an injured track record than Richie? –Comment by Troy

    He does, but he hadn’t missed significant time until 2003.

    Glaus. In 2003 missed time because of problems with his back, foot and hamstring, elbow & wrist tendinitis. In Aug. Drs Yocum & Andrews confirmed a partial tear in the rotator cuff and fraying of the right labrum and both recommended rehab. Began 2004 hitting .296 with 11 HR; in May felt the pain & danger of potential further damage
    (they found the tear had increased on a re-check) indicated surgery. Expected to be out 4-6 months, was back in three after arthoscopic surgery by Dr. Yocum. After his return, some writers took back the ‘gut it out, ya big baby’ articles they had written back in May 2004…

    Sexson. First major injury, only missed something like 9 games in 3 years with the Brewers. April 2004 left shoulder sub-lux (a dislocation where the end of bone doesn’t come all the way out of the socket) and slight tear of labrum (the labrum surrounds the socket). Rehabbed, returned in May & had it sublux on another checked swing. D-backs doctor & Dr Andrews both recommended surgery to repair the torn labrum. The problem here is that there is a slight chance of reinjury or sub-luxing again depending on how much initial damage there was, how much repair they had to do, etc. We just don’t know.

  8. Greg on November 10th, 2004 2:24 pm

    Decisions on Richie should be left to medical professionals. Risk assessment is not something that any of us will be able to manage by reading newspapers and Gammon’s columns. A shoulder injury to a 30yr old power hitter is of concern but finding a good risk in the ocean of doubt and bad press surrounding his health is still a possibility. The problem is that most of the high risk / player coming off big injury year scenarios usually involve a big $ savings. If you can build a heavy incentive based deal and if the medical experts like what they see, signing Richie should be a consideration.

    For what it’s worth, my mom had the same physical rehab trainer this summer.

  9. Swing & A Miss on November 10th, 2004 3:00 pm

    One thing to remember with this guy. He is not going to hit .300. He is a .245-.265 hitter at best. He will hit a bunch of homers. He will strikeout as much or more than Cameron. Be prepared for 150k season from him. His numbers would probably be along the lines of .245-.260, 33-40 hrs, and 90-110 rbi with 150 or more strikeouts. Not worth $30 MILLION for three years.

  10. Evan on November 10th, 2004 3:15 pm

    Strikeouts aren’t bad, though. We were fools to let Cameron go just because he strikes out a lot.

  11. joebob on November 10th, 2004 3:23 pm

    swing and a miss,

    strikeouts, batting average and rbi’s are probably the worst statistics you could use to judge a player’s talent. Sexson is an elite level player when healthy, and if you could gaurantee that would well be worth 10 million a year.

  12. Bela Txadux on November 11th, 2004 12:01 am

    Sexson . . . Look, if he was healthy, he would have real value, and this would be a fun discussion. He sub-luxed his FOLLOW THROUGH arm twice, and got a bad tear of the labrum. Don’t count on him being able to swing a bat _at all_ in ’05. Do count on him having repitition of this injury. Even if he doesn’t tear his labrum yet again, which is a very distinct possibility given his size, strength, the force of his swing and follow-through, and the fact that he will have scar tissue in his labrum, he has an excellent chance of dislocating his humerous down the road. He is completely, compleatly uninsurable. I love the man, but I wouldn’t sign him for guaranteed dollar one. I’m no doctor, but to my eyes he’s got a better than even chance _at best_ of his career being over NOW, as we write. Sure, If the Ms want to offer him an incentive based low $ one-year, with a couple of options, OK, as long as they have a back up plan that really works (read not simply Spezio). Some fool is likely to offer him more than that, though not much more, and so he’ll be going somewhere else. Sexson’s injury is the most serious non-pitcher injury in baseball in years; it’s far worse than Glaus, and less certain than any of Griffey’s injuries. You have to go back to Jermaine Dye disintegrating a length of his shinbone for something comparable, and even so that wasn’t a hitter’s shoulder.

    I wish Richie nothing but the best, but I’ll believe he’s able to play when he shows it on the field.

  13. Swing and A Miss on November 11th, 2004 9:28 am

    #59: Yes, the M’s missed Cameron D. As for strikeouts not being bad, actually they are. If a player fans 150 times a season, that is 150 times that nothing happened on the bases. If runners were on base 1/3 of the time he fanned, about 43 times, if he hit the ball, behind a runner, flied deep to the warning track, etc., the runners can move up, advance, whatever, plus you can count on the other team’s D to make errors from time to time during those 43 AB’s. But, strike outs do nothing at all, except record an out. There can be positive outs and negative outs. Positive outs move runners, errors, etc. Negative outs, strike outs, do nothing. Plus, there is the old swing and a miss on strike three, runner thrown out at 2nd base. In that even, had the batter simply hit the ball on the ground to third, the advancing runner would have at least still made it to 2nd. Nope, sorry, there is a negative to strike outs. Nothing positive happens with them.

    #60: First answer, see response to strikeouts above. As for batting averages, the next time one of the M’s is hitting .195, with one HR, and 8 RBI’s, don’t be yelling for a pinch hitter because the guy cannot hit. As for RBI not being a positive thing, I totally disagree. Average, RBI, HRs, OBP, are the things that GM’s look too when you are giving out millions. You will give a guy hitting .265, 35 dingers, 110 rbi’s a lot; you don’t give some guy hitting .222, 4 dingers, 35 rbi’s all those, even if he walks 75 times a year.

  14. Dave on November 11th, 2004 9:54 am

    Swing: There’s been more research done on this subject than you can possibly imagine. Strikeouts aren’t worse than any other kind of outs. Teams that strike out often score more than similar teams that don’t. Productive Outs, as measured by ESPN, has a negative correlation with run scoring, meaning that teams that do better in Productive Outs score less runs than teams that don’t move runners along, hit behind the runner, and play little ball.

    If you’re really interested in what stats actually help evaluate whether a player is helping his team win or lose, I’d suggest starting here and reading the entire Baseball Prospectus Basics series. Not everything in the series is true, but it’s a pretty good foundation to build off of.

  15. Steve on November 11th, 2004 10:50 pm

    re #63. Dave: the work that I’ve seen on Productive Outs all confuses correlation with causation. It assumes that high productive out teams score fewer runs because of the productive outs. That is correlation, but not causation.

    Obviously teams with bad offenses will attempt to score runs anyway they can; hence they are more likely to emphasize bunting, sacrifices etc. It is entirely possible that for a a team with a really bad offense, there might actually be some marginal benefit. But the studies don’t really get at the question of whether a given team at the bottom of the offensive would score more or fewer runs by empshasizing small ball.

  16. muddy frogwater on November 16th, 2004 10:40 am

    I don’t think the injury risk is very high at all. The Arizona medical staff is reporting a ten percent chance of reinjury. That is really low. There is at least a ten percent chance of loosing any player to injury in any given season. I’d be very concerned if it was the shoulder on his throwing arm and even more concerned if he was a pitcher. As far as the D Backs not wanting him very badly, it sounds more like they are a little bitter over his injury. I wouldn’t want the humilitation *IF* he were to reinjure that shoulder. I think the risks are far lower than the reward.

  17. DMZ on November 16th, 2004 11:00 am

    I’d be very concerned if it was the shoulder on his throwing arm and even more concerned if he was a pitcher.

    As opposed to a nasty injury related to swinging a bat? Because that seems just as bad. If not worse.

  18. muddy frogwater on November 16th, 2004 1:04 pm

    Wow! I got a quick and direct response straight from the editor. I feel special. I might go and dig up stats on shoulder injurys, and fight you on this one! Naw, that would take too much time, I’m too lazy. I’ll walk away for now. (head hung low, beaten in humiliation) I might be back I love to argue. I especially LOVE TO WIN. 🙂