Royals starter Gil Meche announced his retirement earlier today, leaving nearly $12 million on the table and forever saddling former KC skipper Trey Hillman with the rep of being a career-killer. Conveniently enough, Meche’s farewell comes just two days after the Royals signed P Jeff Francis, and despite the left-hander’s history of shoulder woes, Rainy On The Royals’ Rany Jazayerli finds himself in the unusual position of praising GM Dayton Moore.
Francis just turned 30 last week, and he™s a lefty, so it™s quite possible he has another decade left in the tank. He™s moving to the more difficult league, but he™s also moving from Coors Field to Kauffman Stadium. From a pure performance standpoint, there™s no reason to think Francis won™t help the Royals. The concern with Francis, if there is one, comes from a medical standpoint.
Labrum surgery is no joke, and as successful as Francis™ comeback has been to this point, it will be years before I™d feel comfortable about the long-term health of his shoulder. Francis returned to the Rockies™ rotation in mid-May, and made 16 starts without missing a beat, before he developed a sore shoulder and was out for a month. He returned on September 13 and made four appearances, and allowed 21 hits and 12 runs in 11.2 innings. He says his shoulder feels fine now. Gil Meche said the same thing.
But the Royals don™t have to worry about the long-term health of his shoulder, because they signed him for only one year (no surprise) and only $2 million guaranteed (mild surprise). That™s a terrific base salary for a pitcher with Francis™ track record, even one with his medical dossier.