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Thursday, July 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Larry Stone

Bare bones with bat led to Everett's extinction

Seattle Times baseball reporter

In the end, it wasn't Carl Everett's much-lampooned belief system that did him in, or any of the other ancillary baggage that raised so many red flags when the Mariners curiously signed him last December.

It wasn't his July 4 yelling match with Mike Hargrove in the manager's office, which reverberated right through the closed doors. It wasn't even, the club swears, the specter of a vesting 2007 option that would have kicked in at 500 plate appearances.

No, the reason Carl Everett went from designated hitter to designated for assignment on a momentous Wednesday in Marinerville is that he stopped hitting. There's no back story, no hidden agendas.

In fact, with Everett as the front-man at the position, the Mariners had less production out of their DH this season than any other American League team — a crippling liability for a team that had enough other offensive problem areas to deal with.

Now, after acquiring Cleveland's Ben Broussard to platoon with Eduardo Perez at DH, that two-headed beast could give them the best DH setup this side of David Ortiz, Travis Hafner and Jim Thome.

And maybe not as far to this side as you might think.

The potential significance of that upgrade is what made Wednesday a good day for the Mariners, not the fact that Carl Everett was sent packing.

The truth is, Everett turned out to be a popular fellow with his teammates, and a stand-up guy with the media. Dubbed "C. Everett Kook" and "Jurassic Carl" by the Boston media for his stated belief that dinosaurs never existed, he was decidedly uncontroversial in Seattle. And when he played, even when he wasn't playing well, Everett played as hard as anyone on the team.

"I enjoyed him," said Willie Bloomquist. "He spoke his mind, and you knew right where you stood with the guy. To me, I like that."

As Bloomquist was eulogizing Everett, the man himself came up to slap hands and bid farewell, part of his clubhouse goodbye tour before Wednesday's game with Toronto.

"Speak of the devil," Bloomquist said. "We're going to miss him."

One of Everett's last acts as a Mariner occurred in Tuesday's game, when he went over to Yuniesky Betancourt in the dugout after he had doubled home two runs, only to get thrown out at third base trying to stretch his hit with no outs and the M's still down by five. Everett took it upon himself to remind the young shortstop of the folly of his actions.

"Those are good things," Hargrove said. "Those are real good things. I have no bone to pick with Carl. I enjoyed having Carl here. I liked the way he went about his business."

That held true even after the infamous office incident, in which Everett expressed vehement displeasure over his diminished playing time. Hargrove said Wednesday he has no problem with such confrontations, so long as they remain behind closed doors and don't fester.

"That's what Carl did, and that was OK," Hargrove said. "When it was over, we got up and shook hands. That was the end of it for me, and I think it was for Carl.

"Last night's conversation [informing Everett he was being cut] while it was real difficult for him to hear, and real difficult for me to say, was as pleasant as those things can be. There was no contentiousness in the entire thing. I respect Carl for the way he plays the game and his knowledge of the game. I told him that."

But all those positives were trumped by one big, fat negative: Among 86 American League players with enough at-bats to qualify for consideration, Everett ranked 85th in batting average (.227), 83rd in on-base percentage (.297), 81st in slugging percentage (.360) and 84th in OPS (on-base plus slugging) at .658.

As a team, the M's designated hitters — mostly Everett — cumulatively ranked dead last at .680 in the all-important OPS category, which is light years behind Cleveland's (i.e, mostly Hafner's) 1.047.

But now the picture brightens considerably with the acquisition of Broussard, who joins the team Friday in Cleveland as the Mariners' Plan A. The Cubs' Todd Walker reportedly was Plan B, and an unknown Plan C was in the mix as well.

The left-handed-hitting Broussard is a monster against right-handed pitchers this year — a .362 average, 12 homers, 42 runs batted in, .395 on-base, and .587 slugging in 218 at-bats). Perez is nearly as devastating against lefties (.330 average, nine homers, 24 RBI, .361 on-base, .and 680 slugging in 100 at-bats).

Combine the left-right breakdowns of Broussard and Perez, and this is what you have as the Mariners' hydra DH: a .352 batting average, 21 homers, 66 RBI, 21 doubles, 57 runs, a .385 on-base percentage, .616 slugging percentage, and 1.001 OPS.

The OPS figure is ahead of what Chicago (.991) and Boston (.961) get out of their DH position.

That's not to say that Broussez (or Perard, if you prefer), will be Ortiz, or Hafner, or Thome. But they should be much, much more than Carl Everett, and that's why the Mariners made him extinct on Wednesday.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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