Meche Ado About Nothing
Interesting to read in the local newspapers that the Jays were big losers at the Winter Meetings, as the two pitchers they targetted would "rather sign with last-place" teams than with the Jays.
Exhibit A: Ted Lilly - signed with the Chicago Cubs for 4 years/$40 million
Yes, the Cubs are a last-place team, but that oversimplifies things a little. They have a tremendous heritage, incredibly wealthy ownership, and they have already spent about 12 billion dollars on free agents this off-season. They also play in the National League Central, which spawned the 83-win division and World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Every team in the division has to feel they have a reasonable shot at the playoffs.
Exhibit B: Gil Meche - signed with the Kansas City Royals for 5 years/$55 million dollars/Dayton Moore's credibility
Um. Wow. I first caught news of this on the Sportsnet ticker. The static caption read "Meche signs with Royals," but the details of the contract had already sped by. I was a little annoyed - how did the Royals
manage to look like a more attractive option than the Blue Jays? Then I saw the details of the contract.
Simply put, if spending $55 million on Gil Meche makes you a winner at the winter meetings, then point me to the loser's lounge. Meche was an intriguing option as a #4 starter, but he would have felt a bit pricey at $24 million/3 years, let alone Dreifort money. You can make a reasonable argument that this is the worst contract in baseball history right now
So the Jays are out two pitchers who might have chewed up some 400-425 innings this season. On the upside, they didn't spend $95 million in contracts for the priviledge. Lilly's a nice pitcher, but $10 million annually is a lot for a merely nice pitcher. Meanwhile, there are several pitchers in house who can outpitch Meche right now. Casey Janssen, Shawn Marcum, Ty Taubenheim, Dustin McGowan - even the corpse of Josh Towers - at least one of these guys should be able to step up and fill Meche's shoes.
On the free agent side, there are still the Suppans, Weavers and Mulders of the world - and that's just from the Cardinals. All figure to be more expensive in the wake of the Meche deal, as the teams who "lost" that bidding get more desperate. John Thomson and Tomo Ohka are also options, but all of the above are inconsistent, injury risks or just plain mediocre. Again, the Jays might be wise to go with their homegrown talent - or maybe wait for the pool to thin out and try to land someone at a discount - a la Bengie Molina last season.
Another intriguing option would be to combine the Lilly/Meche money - Ricciardi did speak of acquiring both
after all - and taking a run at Barry Zito, but that's putting all your eggs in one basket, and it figures to be a lot of eggs.