Gil Meche (from mindahaas.net)

Gil Meche Retires

In a surprise announcement today around noon, Gil Meche announced his retirement from baseball.  Meche was entering the final season of a five year contract with the Royals.

Meche was expected to fill a relief role in 2011 after making 11 appearances out of the bullpen in 2010.  He almost had shoulder surgery after nine starts that some believe could have put an end to his career at that time anyway.  Meche wanted to continue to try to pitch.

When Dayton Moore took over as general manager, Gil Meche was the first big free agent signing of his tenure.  Many laughed at the five year $55 million contract he gave Meche, but over the first two seasons, Moore looked brilliant for the move.  Meche threw a combined 416.1 innings and made 68 starts after being labeled as “injury prone.”

Unfortunately, that label didn’t escape him.  Remember back to that fateful day in June 2009 when Meche threw a four hit shutout against the Diamondbacks.  He used 132 pitches to do it.  His next start lasted just 3.1 innings and Meche complained of a dead arm shortly after.

Meche was never the same.

Up to 6/16/09 W/KC 510.2 IP 3.74 ERA
After 6/16/09 106.1 IP 6.86 ERA

For the rest of 2009, Meche threw 44.2 innings and gave up 42 earned runs.

Maybe he’s the victim of his own competitive nature, maybe it’s mostly the fault of the Royals training staff and Trey Hillman for sticking with him and letting him throw so many pitches.  Maybe it was unavoidable, but the Royals still didn’t learn the lesson and let him throw 128 pitches on May 8, then 122 pitches on May 19.  Meche missed all of June, July and August.

Walking away from $12 million isn’t easy, but Meche said he’d rather be a starter than a reliever and didn’t want to go through surgery.  At every step with the shoulder issues, he’s done his own thing, from foregoing surgery last season to pitch out of the bullpen to the retirement, so that says something about who he is as a person.  Sometimes the game and the money isn’t enough when you aren’t meeting your own expectations.

Who knows, though.  Meche is only 32 and with a year or two off might get the itch to take the mound again.

Year Tm W L ERA G IP BB K ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
1999 SEA 8 4 4.73 16 85.2 57 47 107 1.518 7.7 0.9 6.0 4.9 0.82
2000 SEA 4 4 3.78 15 85.2 40 60 121 1.342 7.9 0.7 4.2 6.3 1.50
2003 SEA 15 13 4.59 32 186.1 63 130 94 1.342 9.0 1.4 3.0 6.3 2.06
2004 SEA 7 7 5.01 23 127.2 47 99 91 1.457 9.8 1.5 3.3 7.0 2.11
2005 SEA 10 8 5.09 29 143.1 72 83 83 1.570 9.6 1.1 4.5 5.2 1.15
2006 SEA 11 8 4.48 32 186.2 84 156 99 1.430 8.8 1.2 4.1 7.5 1.86
2007 KCR 9 13 3.67 34 216.0 62 156 125 1.296 9.1 0.9 2.6 6.5 2.52
2008 KCR 14 11 3.98 34 210.1 73 183 110 1.317 8.7 0.8 3.1 7.8 2.51
2009 KCR 6 10 5.09 23 129.0 58 95 87 1.566 10.0 1.2 4.0 6.6 1.64
2010 KCR 0 5 5.69 20 61.2 38 41 74 1.670 9.5 1.3 5.5 6.0 1.08
10 Seasons 84 83 4.49 258 1432.1 594 1050 99 1.421 9.1 1.1 3.7 6.6 1.77
162 Game Avg. 11 11 4.49 35 194 81 143 99 1.421 9.1 1.1 3.7 6.6 1.77
SEA (6 yrs) 55 44 4.65 147 815.1 363 575 96 1.439 8.9 1.2 4.0 6.3 1.58
KCR (4 yrs) 29 39 4.27 111 617.0 231 475 104 1.397 9.2 1.0 3.4 6.9 2.06

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/18/2011.

Meche’s retirement leaves an opening for a group of young relievers to step in and get some work.  It also means only one roster spot needs to be cleared to make room for Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen on the 40 man roster.  On top of that, the Royals have an extra $12 million to play with – so who knows what might come of that.
The full statement from Meche:

More from Kings of Kauffman on Meche:

Happy trails, Gil.

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