Farewell, Big Sexy

saenzsmall.jpgWe interrupt your regularly scheduled year-in-review to bring you some sad but completely expected news:

Olmedo Saenz has cleared waivers and refused outright assignment, and will almost certainly not be returning to the Dodgers in 2008.

Now if you’re a casual fan, or just started following the team, you might say, “Big deal. He’s a washed-up fat old man who hit .191 with a 64 OPS+ this year and was strictly a pinch-hitter, good riddance.”

But I reject your reality and subsitute my own.

Forget his mediocre 2007 season. You don’t even need to go by the crappy stats; all you needed to see was the fact that his bat speed had slowed to the point where he couldn’t really catch up to fastballs anymore, and as soon as that happened, he was done. I’m not saying it’s not time for him to leave; it is.

What I’m saying is, farewell to a man who is inexplicably one of my favorite Dodgers of the last decade (and, does that say more about what I think about Saenz, or a commentary on the Dodgers of the last decade? That’s a discussion for another time, I think). Farewell to a man who was always smiling, always entertaining, and unbelievably, the longest-tenured Dodger – he joined up in April 2004, a few months before the Penny deal. This is a man of whom Brett Tomko said earlier this year, “Saenz calls me “Mike” and I’m not sure what that means. He started laughing, so I guess I’ll go along with it.”

I don’t think you can truly appreciate Big Sexy without having watched a huge amount of Dodgers baseball over the last few years. And let’s ignore 2007, which was a pretty terrible year for him, though with the caveat that with both Nomar and Loney in front of him he got to play about once a month. This was a man who killed lefties like nobody’s business (04-06 vs. lefties: .564 SLG, .928 OPS) and had a particular love for hitting against the Pirates, for some reason. (04-06 vs. PIT: .435/.527/.891 for a 1.418 OPS. 6hr and 20rbi in just 46 at-bats. That’s just not right.)

So I say, today is a sad day in Dodgerville. Goodbye, Big Sexy. You will be missed. But.. not missed so much that I actually want you back next year.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg