Thursday, December 07, 2006

Handy-Dandy Free Agent Signing Guide - Part 5

Who: Gil Meche
What Team: Kansas City
How Much: $55M
How Long: 5 years
What It Means: Words fail me. This is Gil Meche we're talking about, people! Gil freakin' Meche!
Will They Regret It: In the sense that a guy in the electric chair gets wistful about lethal injection. Kansas City wants a veteran anchor to eat innings while the kids grow up? Fine, get a guy who's not a product of the Seattle rotation chop shop for rotator cuffs, and for the love of God, don't pay him $2.5M a year MORE than Adam Eaton, and in the name of all that is sweet and merciful on this Earth, don't go five years for a pitcher whose joints sound like a pile of cicadas on Spanish Fly.
Now, this being Kansas City, they would have just spent the money on something else stupid - see Stairs, Matt - if they hadn't blown it on Meche, but even so, this one is mind-boggling. If you're going to waste money in order to convince the paying fans that you're actually doing something, at least get a name they'll recognize. $55M? 5 years? For the pitching equivalent of a remanufactured toner cartridge? The only benefit I can see to this is that tying up so much money in one guy keeps the Royals from signing a fistful of consonant-laden "affordable" veterans to block their various position prospects.
But to quote The Brain, "The pain from this one is definitely going to linger."

Who: Ted Lilly
What Team: Chicago (NL)
How Much: $40M
How Long: 4 years
What It Means: The Cubs finally recognize that someone has to pitch this year.
Will They Regret It: Not as long as they can mentally compare it to the Gil Meche contract.
This gives them a reasonably solid, reasonably durable innings eater to slot into the rotation behind Zambrano for the next couple of years. Four years seems a bit much, particularly after Adam Eaton got three, but again, it beats the Gil Meche deal.

Who: Jason Schmidt
What Team: Los Angeles, nee Brooklyn
How Much: $47M
How Long: 3 years
What It Means: There's nothing better than helping yourself and hamstringing a rival at the same time.
Will They Regret It: Not unless Schmidt breaks down completely, and all things considered, I'll take the odds on 3 years of Schmidt over 4 of Lilly, 5 of Gil Meche, or pretty much any other pitcher out there on the market. Before this offseason's cash orgy, I would have said the dollars are a bit high, but Frank McCourt has obviously found some cash under the seat cushions, and why not spend it on quality? Here, at least, signing an old guy isn't going to block a prospect.

Who: Luis Gonzalez
What Team: Los Angeles-Brooklyn
How Much: $7M
How Long: 1 year
What It Means: Ned Colletti has in fact killed Brian Sabean and eaten his brain
Will They Regret It: Yes, when the Diamondbacks win the division going away. Gonzalez may not be entirely done, but he's no longer sashimi, either, and it would be a good idea to keep the fork to stick in him ready. The Giants and Dodgers seem to be in a race to see who can get older, faster, with the difference being that the Dodgers have plenty of good, young, major-league-ready, cheap talent available that deals like this are blocking. They're either going to lose a farm system full of guys like Kemp or have them rot in AAA while paying through the nose for endless stopgaps living on the scraps of past production.
And while I'm at it, it's nice to see that Mike Lieberthal found a home with LA, but isn't your second catcher supposed to be a durable catch-and-throw guy, not an aging semi-slugger with bad knees and no luck controlling the running game?

Who: Mike Piazza
What Team: Oakland/Fremont
How Much: $8.5M
How Long: 1 year
What It Means: Billy Beane is being hoist on his own petard
Will They Regret It: No, in large part due to the duration of the contract. Piazza isn't blocking anyone, he can still hit a bit, and having your emergency catcher bundled up as your DH saves some roster shenanigans down the line. On the other hand, the dollars are a direct result of the play Beane got for the flier he took on Frank Thomas last year. He may have been exploiting a market inefficiency last year, but that market got efficient in a hurry. No more $500K Hall of Famers for you, Mr. GM - you've had your fill already.
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