Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Dispatches from the Post-Meche Universe
2006-12-08 08:47
by Mark T.R. Donohue

So flabbergasted am I about this Gil Meche development (5 years, $55 million is indeed the final damage) that it may take me a few moments this morning to retrieve all of the brain pieces from the walls of my apartment and return them to their proper positions. Let's bust it Olney style and see what the "pros" have to say about the Ground Zero of the 2006-07 Hot Stove rounds.

Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star: "Seriously what could be easier than ripping the sad-sack Royals for spending $55 million on Gil Meche? Columnists dream about opportunities like this. There's only one small problem: I kind of like this move."

Neil deMause, Baseball Prospectus: "One co-worker of a BPer quipped, 'This is like a family on welfare buying a plasma TV that doesn't work.'"

Keith Law, ESPN Insider: "The Meche contract is, in [one] sense, a four-year, $44 million deal from 2008-2011, with the 2007 season (a year in which the Royals aren't going to contend anyway) tacked on the front end as a developmental year, in a season where the Royals are going to struggle to spend a respectable amount of money anyway. Signing Meche may have other, less tangible benefits. It sends a signal to the Royals' various stakeholders...that the penury and the striving for mediocrity that have characterized the Glass family's ownership of the franchise are over. It may blunt criticism from other owners that the Glasses are pocketing revenue-sharing money rather than spending it on players."

Jacob Luft, "We now have the answer to the question of what is the worst signing of the offseason."

The most common defense of the Meche signing, past Law's somewhat more sophisticated analysis, is that, well, this offseason is crazy anyway (Posnanski: "If you want to improve your baseball team, you have to spend way more than any sane person would spend") so you might as well strip naked, smear mud all over yourself, and run around hooting. I don't see a lot of merit to this argument, but then again I have always enjoyed mud-smeared naked hooting somewhat less than your average man on the street. And I hate to admit it, but I have a perfectly good example of a team improving itself without spending hardly any money at all: the Colorado Rockies. There's hardly any one move they've made that stands out, but the sum total of Dan O'Dowd's body of work thus far seems like incremental improvement to be sure. And the group of LaTroy Hawkins, Kaz Matsui, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Oscar Rivera, who taken as a set will cost less than Gil Meche in 2007, will absolutely be more valuable.

Here's the catch with overspending to win back the faith of a much-abused fanbase. If the team keeps losing, you've only made things worse. Sports fans in Denver don't just think that the Rockies are cheap, they think they are incompetent as well. At this point there are no personnel moves that O'Dowd can make that will immediately reverse the course of fan sentiment. The only way Colorado will start filling the seats at Coors Field again is by winning, and the limited revenue streams that a decade of losing has caused make the process of clawing together a competitive team punishingly difficult. Kansas City has much more of a history, and much more of a loyal regional fanbase, than do the Rockies. But this is the kind of witless move that can set a franchise's progress back five years. The Rockies, as I seemingly have to remind everyone each and every day, are still reeling from the poorly-considered free agent signings of the 2000-01 offseason. And in the wake of one of the few teams more cash-strapped than they breaking the bank, they're still operating in dazed caution.

Here's O'Dowd on the Helton situation, for example: "It's not like he doesn't understand the position we're in. He knows we very much care for him. We'd love to win with him here. If there's a way to make that happen, hopefully that'll happen this year. But he also knows that the contract presents obstacles that are very difficult in this environment to overcome."

Wah! Wah! We're so poor! Our socks have holes in them and our clubhouse attendants eat only gruel! The only guy in the organization with health insurance is the dude who works the humidor! Dan, sir, the Royals spent $55 million on Gil Meche. Quit crying into your peanuts and crackerjack and get a Jason Jennings deal done. NOW! Well? Well? We're waiting!

2006-12-08 13:41:17
1.   dianagramr
... and some people liken the Meche signing to the 2003 Tigers luring Pudge with that big bucks deal, and that turning out pretty well.

I wouldn't go THAT far .... equating Meche with Pudge as a difference-maker, but ....

2006-12-09 07:57:26
2.   Hallux Valgus
Might there be a bit more scratch to offer Jennings if Helton were moved? We've shown that we have a great eye for 1st baseman (Atkins, Hawpe, and Holliday all started at first, if I'm not mistaken) and Baker and Stewart will have to go somewhere, unless we're planning to start a team entirely of corner infielders (hmm, I wonder if that would work, like when the Dodgers last year were starting like 6 shortstops).

I've loved Helton since day 1, but having him around kind of seems to me like the guys you see rattling down the road in a 1988 Toyota Carolla with a ginormous stero system and rims.

2006-12-09 08:35:26
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
2 I addressed the Jennings implications of a Helton trade in my first post from Thursday, the one nobody read because an hour later the Meche bombshell dropped. Yes, obviously any money Colorado isn't spending on Helton is money they can most likely put to better use elsewhere. But O'Dowd's tone bothers me. If it's such a "very difficult environent," why does Kansas City have money to throw around that the Rockies don't?

I don't have time this morning to look up the exact exchange but your comment reminds me of a quote from the first season of "Weeds" where Heylia is going on about how Conrad started shopping for rims for his car before the vehicle had a steering wheel.

2006-12-10 07:57:43
4.   Hallux Valgus
holy crap, I think I remember that quote. Dang it! I knew I wasn't that clever.
2006-12-12 14:24:39
5.   Xeifrank
Congrats on the Hirsh trade. Finally some Rockie news to blog about. :) vr, Xei
2006-12-12 15:46:19
6.   Kels
Come on Mark, I need some analysis :)

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