Pitcher Walks Away From $12 Million

Pitcher Walks Away From $12 Million

From the start, I thought the Kansas City Royals got a bad rap when they gave Gil Meche a 5-year, $55 million contract. That was before the 2007 season, and up to that point Meche's career numbers were 55-44 with an unimpressive 4.65 ERA, an equally unimpressive 96 ERA+, and a penchant for giving up walks and home runs. He had just turned 28 years old.

These numbers, and others like them, strongly suggested the Meche was not worth anything close to $11 million a year ... strongly suggested, in fact, that the cash-poor Royals might have been out of their minds. Many people said this out loud. A few -- like then-Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi, who had been trying to sign Meche -- also took some shots at Meche for lacking the fortitude to play for a team that had a chance to compete. It was a open season on the Royals and Meche. And, like I say, from the start I thought it was unfair.

Here's why I thought it was unfair: Was Meche worth $11 million a year? Of course not ... if you are measuring worth by the way we as fans perceive value. But based on the way baseball teams perceive value? He was a healthy 28-year-old pitcher with some experience, great stuff, and he was showing some signs of becoming a good pitcher. And pitchers of that genre get paid.

-- A.J. Burnett at 32 got $16 million a year.
-- Chan Ho Park at 29 got $13 million a year.
-- Carlos Silva at 29 got $12 million a year.
-- Vincente Padilla at 29 got $11-plus million a year.
-- Darren Dreifort at 28 got $11 million a year.
-- Jeff Suppan at 32 got $10-plus million a year.
-- Carl Pavano at 29 got $10 million a year.
-- Eric Milton at 29 got about $9 million a year.
-- Matt Morris at 31 got $9 million a year.
-- Andy Ashby at 33 got about $8 million a year.

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