Let's face it: Nothing the Kansas City Royals have done since oh 1985 has made any sense. Taking Bo Jackson, who had just won a Heisman Trophy and been drafted by the Tampa Buccaneers, didn't make any sense at the time, and history now shows he was nothing more than a four-year sideshow for a team that never won their division.
In his last season as Royals GM, John Schuerholz signed National League Cy Young winner Mark Davis (to go along with reigning AL Cy Young Winner Bret Saberhagen) and Storm Davis, who had won 19 games for an Oakland A's team that slugged their way to a World Championship. Both deals looked great on paper, both had the Royals heavy favorites for the 1990 season, and both deals turned out to be complete disasters.
In 1991, then General Manager Herk Robinson traded the greatest pitcher to ever wear a Royals uniform in two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen to the Mets for Kevin McReynolds, Keith Miller and Gregg Jefferies. Of course, Jefferies was the best part of the deal...and the following winter, they traded HIM to St. Louis for Felix Jose.
They traded hometown boy David Cone for Ed Hearn and a bag of balls in March, 1987. Cone was so eager to come back home he signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Royals in December, 1992. Cone would win a Cy Young Award for KC in 1994...and then they traded him AGAIN, this time to the Blue Jays, for three guys who never played for the Royals.
But the worst that happened to the franchise in the past 20 years occurred at the time when they had an outfield that consisted of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye. All three patrolled Kauffman Stadium's outfield at the same time, and instead of locking one or two of them to decent deals -- and at any time, all were somewhat willing to give the team a hometown discount -- the Royals foolishly threw around funny money at good guy Mike Sweeney to become the face of the franchise.
Damon, Beltran, and Dye were all traded. All that's left to show from any of those deals is a budding star in Mark Teahan -- and rumors swirled this off-season that even HE might be traded.
I wanted to say that nothing could compare to what the organization did last week. They gave a 5-year, $55 million deal to....
Here are Meche's career numbers: 55-44, with a career 4.65 ERA. All with Seattle. Meche's best year was in 2003, when he went 15-13 with a 4.59 ERA while giving up 30 homers. Yes, he was named The Sporting News comeback player of the year. But that year, he was Seattle's # FOUR starter and made a whopping $325,000.
The Kansas City Royals are paying Gil Meche, who will undoubtedly be their opening day starter, $11 million a year for the next 5 years.
I know the Royals have been the poster franchise for not spending any money on available players in the past. I know that lame duck GM Allard Baird was given the go ahead to spend money last winter only to come up empty handed (most notoriously, wanting to give Paul Byrd silly money). But if you're going to throw money around...I mean, Barry Zito is still unsigned.
Nobody who follows the Royals (and that number is about as big as the number of people who follow the Devil Rays or are card carrying members of the Michael Richards Stand-Up Comedy Club) can reasonably expect Gil Meche to behave like anything other than a #4 starting pitcher. But he's now going to anchor the Royals pitching staff for the next five seasons. I understand the organization had to make some sort of splash to show their fans and the community that the team is committed to putting together a competitive club.
OK, fine. Now they've signed Octavio Dotel, and are SERIOUSLY considering bringing back former #1 starter Jeff Suppan (who obviously isn't in Michael J. Fox's corner, by the way). Which means Suppan would be their #2 starter behind Meche going into the 2007 season.
It's so easy to bash them for (finally) throwing around money at players (similar to what the Blue Jays did last year). Now there are reports that Mark Teahan is learning the Right Field position, and that phenom Alex Gordon is NOT going to start the season in Omaha, but rather with the parent club at third base on opening day. We have one more year of the whole Mike Sweeney mess before Billy Butler can become the permanent designated hitter.
I want to bash these moves, but I can't help but be optimistic. They could have three veteran starters to get their young pitchers ready. Let's face it, Gordon is set to move to the next level. I have no doubt in my mind that Dayton Moore knows what he's doing. Screw it, I'm all in. Let Gil Meche try to be if not Bret Saberhagen, then maybe Mark Gubicza. See if Dotel has two years in him to win more than 10 games each year. Hell, at least now, they're TRYING to do something. Last year, it was by me a vowel and spell check guys like Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz to bring stability to, uhm, no pitching. Moore is all about pitching, learning at the foot of former Royals GM John Schuerholz all of those years in Atlanta. I'll say this, at least the guy seems to have some sort of plan.
And they're actually spending MONEY. Something they wouldn't dare do with Damon, Dye and Beltran.