5). Letting Colby Lewis Walk
On November 2, 2007, the KC Royals claimed pitcher Colby Lewis on waivers from the Oakland A’s. At the time, Lewis was an unremarkable right-hander who had mostly failed as a big league pitcher in parts of five seasons with the Rangers, Tigers, and A’s. In his only extended stint in a major-league rotation, he started 26 games for Texas in 2003 with a deceptive 10-9 record and a horrendous 7.30 ERA.
Calling Colby Lewis a journeyman would have been a compliment.
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Moore, however, saw something in Lewis and claimed him during an era in which the KC Royals fielded an awful rotation. To remind current fans just how bad Kansas City Royals pitchers were in 2008, the Royals regularly handed the ball to Luke Hochevar and Brian Bannister—both of whom sported ERA’s over 5.00.
Yet, Moore released Colby Lewis on December 5, 2007, because Lewis wanted to take a contract to play in Japan.
The Kansas City Royals really should have convinced Lewis that they wanted him to stay. Lewis posted two outstanding seasons with the Hiroshima Carp in 2008 and 2009 in which he went 26-17 with an ERA under 3.00 both seasons.
Lewis’ performance in Japan was impressive enough that the Rangers inserted him in their rotation in 2010, and he rewarded them with three consecutive seasons of solid performance. From 2010-2012, Lewis went 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA for an ERA+ of 113 (13% better than league average). Those five seasons between 2008-2012 corresponded to a rotation Dark Age during which the KC Royals would have KILLED for an above-average innings eater.
Instead, Dayton Moore let one walk away after CLAIMING HIM ON WAIVERS.
Heck, after missing the 2013 due to injury, Lewis started 62 games in 2014 and 2015. He even went 17-9, with an admittedly mediocre 4.66 ERA, last season in which he ate 204.2 innings for an acceptable 91 ERA+ (9% worse than a league average pitcher). Lewis was hardly great, but he is still a viable bottom-of-the-rotation arm.
Next: Choosing The Wrong Outfielder