SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Poster Boy for the proposed Kansas City Renaissance stands by his locker and shrugs. And yes, let's get it out of the way now, at five years and $55 million, the poster is whoppingly expensive.
And let's get this out of the way, too: Much as you may have choked on your Coco Puffs when you heard about it, the man himself even went all Casablanca when he learned how much dough the Royals were gambling on him. Yes, he was ...
|The Royals aren't calling Gil Meche a savior, but they hope he brings a ray of hope to the staff. (Getty Images)|
"I didn't look at free-agency that hard until me and my agent started talking three weeks before the winter meetings. I told him don't count anybody out."
So he didn't.
The manager for the proposed Kansas City Renaissance stands under a bright Arizona sun, shifting his weight -- right foot, left, right, left. He is pawing like a horse at the starting gate, and hoo boy, is he agitated.
"Why is everybody so interested in the Kansas City Royals now and what we're doing?" Buddy Bell demands. "We need to do what's best for the Kansas City Royals. We need to start worrying about us.
"Who cares what the commissioner thinks, what other teams think or what other general managers think? We've got to get busy here and not worry about anybody else."
So they're not.
After a winter of being dragged through the shredder by all sorts of folks who think they know Kansas City's business better than the Royals themselves, the club has come out swinging this spring.
They're not about to apologize for out-bidding the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays for a guy who led the AL in walks-per-nine-innings last season at 4.05.
They're privately incensed at some of the offseason reaction, like that of Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi, who, upon failing to land Meche said, "When a guy talks about coming to our place where he has a chance to win and compete against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and then he goes to a place like Kansas City, that's an eye-opener."
Here is the Royals' dilemma: They've lost 100 or more games in each of the past three seasons. Their 5.65 team ERA last season was the worst in the game. Their 31 blown saves also were the worst.