Yes, everything you read in the title is correct. Gil Meche. To the Royals. $55 million. This raises a few questions:
1) Where did the Royals get the money?
2) If they had the money, why didn't they spend it in previous years when the free agent market was cheaper and better?
3) Why would anyone want to spend five years with the Royals?
With the Red Sox, who had cried poverty last season and claimed they couldn't compete with the Yankees, spending money like Paris Hilton in a shoe shop, various mid-level players getting long-term, high-priced deals, and now the Royals ($37 million dollar payroll last year) bumping up their payroll an extra $11 million per year on one guy (career ERA/ERA+/WHIP 4.65/96/1.44), you have to wonder what the hell is going on in baseball. Has the amount of talent available on the free market made even the spendthrift teams lose their cool trying to get available scraps? Have teams simply lied about their financial issues in the past in order to placate fans angry about losing? Did the Phillies really give Adam Eaton 3 years at $24.5 million (4.40/92/ 1.36)?
Of course, when the Royals or Phillies are stuck paying Meche and Eaton for sub-par work, they could always claim that the Yankees' (Mets, etc.) massive payroll made them overspend to try and compete, and then they will cry that they are stuck because they can't swallow mistakes while the Yankees can. Whatever. No one made them make stupid decisions. Cashman is playing it cool, and he's not the only one. Clubs like the Braves are ignoring the overpriced free agent market like they usually do, choosing to promote from the minors and make key trades. That seems to be the smart thing to do this off-season.
If the rest of the postseason plays out like it has already, with Zito making over $100 million and other free agents scoring big while the Yankees remain quiet, this will be a hot stove year to remember. I suspect, however, that some years down the road a few teams will be loathe to remember this off-season. Yes, it is true that the Yankees can make a terrible deal like they did with Carl Pavano and still survive. The question is, can the Royals do the same with Gil Meche?
Addendum: My friend might chastise me for making so few jokes in this post, so here's a gem from Jackie Mason -
My grandfather always said, "Don't watch your money; watch your health." So one day while I was watching my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather.