I understand the impulse. I understand why some writers and analysts have bent over backwards trying to justify the five-year, $55 million contract to which the Royals signed Gil Meche. The Conventional Wisdom, of course, is that it's crazy to spend that sort of money on a pitcher like Meche. But the CW is often wrong, and it's our job to notice when it is. Some of my favorite people have decided that while Meche's contract indeed doesn't look real smart upon first glance, if we poke around the nooks and crannies we might discover some mitigating factors. Maybe it's not a great deal or even a good one, but it might wind up not looking terrible.
It might. But if you bet a lot of your money on mights, you're going to lose a lot of your money. Here's the bottom line. If Meche becomes a good pitcher, a pitcher who averages 180-200 innings per season and posts an ERA right around the league average, this becomes a defensible contract. But there is little objective evidence to suggest he will do those things. In the last four seasons, which included no serious injuries, he's averaged 160 innings and posted two (ballpark-adjusted) ERA's close to the league average, and two substantially worse than league average.