clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What A Meche

When Gil Meche signed with the Royals for five years, 55 million, I had that same reaction that everyone else would: "so it turns out that Dayton Moore is just a pseudonym for Allard Baird. Who knew?" Strangely, there are a large number of people arguing in favor of this deal, and I just don't see it.

The main argument that seems to be brought up is the 2003 Tigers argument. They massively overpaid Ivan Rodriguez and look where that got them. This is a flawed argument for several reasons. The first is that Gil Meche is not Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a first ballot Hall of Famer coming off a season where he hit .297/.369/.474 and threw out 33% of all base stealers, a terrible number for Rodriguez, but still very good overall. Gil Meche, on the other hand, has never pitched more than 187 innings, had an ERA+ over 100, and was booted from the Mariners rotation in 2005 for general lameness. He's not without upside, his strikeout rate shot up last year, but 55 million is a lot to pay for a guy who needs to make another small jump forward to become a league average pitcher.

Next is the basic flaw in the argument. It's said that signing Rodrgiuez let them pick up other free agents, but that's a false assertion. Here's how the Rodriguez signing in 2003 helped them in 2006:

Massively overpaid Ivan Rodriguez
Massively overpaid Magglio Ordonez
Paid Kenny Rogers fairly, though two years for a 40 year old is a risk
Massively overpaid Todd Jones, in the sense that if you have Todd Jones on your team, he's being massively overpaid.

The Rodriguez signing hasn't really done a thing for the Tigers ability to compete on the free agent market. The team was built on a solid farm system and some decidedly unfair trades. All flashing their cash got them was the right to make some further horrible signings, free agency didn't have much of an effect on the Tigers.

Finally, there's the state of the teams at the time the deal was made. The 2003 Tigers had Brandon Inge, Craig Monroe, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robinson, Omar Infante and Dmitri Young. All these players except Young and Infante were very important to the 2006 Tigers. In 2004, they added Rodriguez, Carlos Guillen, Chris Shelton, Curtis Granderson, and Marcus Thames. Even though the 2003 Tigers were terrible, they at least had elements of a good team, and by 2004 they had half of the 2006 version of the Tigers. How many players that played for the Royals in 2006 will make any impact on the team the next time they make the playoffs. Mark Teahen, David DeJesus  and maybe Ryan Shealy. The Tigers were working with a far deeper base than the Royals were.

While I can't say for sure that Meche's contract was the worst of the offseason, he has enough potential that the contract is better than the one given out to Juan Pierre, it was still an incredibly poor signing.  The most likely result of the contract is that it gums up the Royals plans for the future, and then they complain about how unfair baseball's economics are. Dayton Moore inherited a team that would probably be helped if they were contracted, then allowed an expansion draft. Even if overpaying a bad pitcher had some merit, the Royals are in no position to be thinking about being a competitive baseball team. When Alex Gordon turns into a stud, then you can start trying to compete.