Tuesday, Royals pitcher Gil Meche shocked the baseball world by announcing his retirement, thus forfeiting the last $12.4 million guaranteed to him for the final year of his five-year, $55 million contract he signed with the team back in 2007.
Now that Meche is gone, and the Royals all the sudden have their lowest payroll (by far) since GM Dayton Moore arrived, projecting somewhere in the $30 million range, the (12) million dollar question is this:
Where's that extra $12-mil going, Mr. Glass?
Meche had an idea for the owner.
"Hopefully the Royals can find some guys to (spend) that money on and help the team win," he said Tuesday, while announcing his retirement.
Wishful thinking, possibly. Maybe even sarcasm.
We've been over it. The team is rebuilding (still?). The youth-movement is on the brink of surfacing. The free-agent market was thin to begin with and is even thinner now (Nice timing, Gil). There isn't much need to clutter the roster with another stop-gap or two who would only, at best, save the team from the embarrassment that is yet another 100-loss season.
Moore knows this. In fact, if you were listening to Tuesday's press conference closely, you'd know he already told us where the money is going.
When asked if the extra dough might go toward adding talent in free-agency, Moore replied, "I don't see a lot out there that's better than what we have or will potentially have in 2011 or 2012."
Translation: The money is going straight into Glass' pocket.
And herein lies the problem with Mission 2012 and all of Moore's efforts to save the Royals from continued baseball futility. His plan is based strongly on a financial commitment from a dead-beat owner who has all-too-often broken promises to his most-passionate customers (fans) and hard-working employees (former GM Allard Baird).
The Meche retirement and the money Glass will pocket as a result is a microcosm of how the former-Walmart CEO is and always will run the Royals organization. He found an average product on the market worth selling at a higher price (Meche). The product sold for awhile, but ultimately turned out to be a lemon. To pay for the mistake of his investment, the price to enjoy the product (which was all-the-while losing value) raised (higher ticket prices, concessions, parking, etc). Upon request for a refund, he refused (pocketing the new-found Meche money).
It sounds a whole lot like Walmart, all the way down to the disgusting smell coming from the restroom. The cycle continues as it has for years — just so long as the customers keep coming back for more.
It's simple. The Royals profit EVERY year. Glass will (and was going to before the $12 million gift) profit millions in 2011 off of another sub-.500 baseball team. Pocketing the Meche money, given the current state of the major-league roster, is obvious greed. It is despicable.
This is as good a time as any to remind the readers of the $250 million stadium renovation passed by Jackson County voters in 2006, which was completed with the grand opening of the new Kauffman Stadium just last season.
Glass hasn't been seen or heard from in Kansas City since.
And let's not forget, the Royals are where they are because of Glass. Sure, the strike in 1994 and the ensuing collective-bargaining agreement (which tended to heavily aid larger-market teams) didn't help, but for the past 16 years Glass has either had the last say and/or the only say in all-things Royals. He's owned the team for over a decade now. He failed to make a solid commitment to building from within until he hired Moore in 2006 and it was only then that he began investing real money in the draft. Since then, there have been missteps, and now here we are in 2011. The major-league roster is actually much worse than it was in 2000. At that time, there was Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye and an up-and-coming personnel guy named Allard Baird who was ready to make the Royals a winner again. He had no idea.
And now, the fans are just as angry and upset as they were ten years ago. The team is rebuilding (yes... still). It's Glass' work.
Had we any faith in our owner, our frustration would subside with much more ease. Maybe just a signed commitment. Something like, "When the time comes — and it is coming — you can count on me." ... You know, just a few words on the website. Anything. The fans in Kansas City need some kind of sign that when the team is ready to make a run at a pennant — next year, maybe three years from now, whenever — the finances won't run dry and promises be forgotten as the years and losses weigh on our patience and our hearts.
Just show us a damn sign, Mr. Glass.