Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Meche's retirement benefits Royals
Gil Meche is retiring?
"After a lot of thinking and prioritizing of issues in my life, I have decided to retire from baseball. As a competitor my entire life this is the hardest decision that I’ve ever faced, but it’s not fair to me, my family or the Kansas City Royals that I attempt to pitch anymore.
"I came into this game as a starting pitcher and unfortunately my health, more accurately, my shoulder, has deteriorated to the point where surgery would be the only option and at this stage of my life I would prefer to call it a career rather than to attempt to pitch in relief for the final year of my contract.
"I can’t thank the Kansas City Royals and their fans enough for my four seasons there, and if I have any regret, it’s that we weren’t able to accomplish on the field what the goal was when I signed there.”
Until today, Meche was the highest-paid Royal. By a LOT. He was slated to earn $12 million in 2011; next on the list is Joakim Soria, at $4 million. Jason Kendall ($3.75 million) and Jeff Francoeur ($2.5 million) are the only other Royals making more than $2 million in 2011.
To which I can only say, it's about damn time.
The Gil Meche contract was ridiculous the moment the Royals offered it, and only became more ridiculous the moment he signed it. There's just no sense in spending $55 million on any player if you're not going to contend, and when Meche signed that contract in December 2006 there was no reason to think the Royals were going to contend for anything but fourth place.
It's since been argued that Meche actually did OK. He pitched well in 2007 and 2008, gave the Royals some innings in 2009, and with a decent 2011 -- even just pitching out of the bullpen -- he could essentially give the Royals their $55 millions' worth.
The Royals threw $55 million into a giant sinkhole, $55 million that could have been better spent elsewhere. Exactly where, I don't know. But you'll have an awful hard time convincing me that 617 innings and a 4.27 ERA was the best way to spend $55 million. Or even a good way. And yes, hindsight it 20/20 but it's not like Meche had some brilliant history of success when the Royals signed him. It looked (to me) like a stupid move then, and it looks like a stupid move now.
Granted, theoretically the Royals don't owe him that $12 million this year, which would make the deal look quite a bit better. But I suspect that they'll pay him some chunk of that money, as a sort of settlement. It's just hard to see Meche leaving $12 million on the table, when to earn it all he'd have to do is throw 50 innings of relief or something this summer.
Either way, the Royals will have a tiny payroll this season, which should allow them to invest heavily in the draft, again. Which, considering their drafting success over the last three or four years, seems like a mighty good thing.