Even when something is inevitable, it can still feel great when it actually happens.

The Royals designated Jose Guillen for assignment on Thursday.

Kick ass.  Great news.

Let’s check the carnage:

340 games
1383 plate appearances
.256 batting average
.308 on base percentage
.420 slugging percentage
45 home runs
94 OPS+
-2.0 WAR

The epitome of replacement level.  At a cost of $36 million.


Let’s flashback to December of 2007.  Rumors were flying around everywhere about the Royals and their involvement with Guillen.  He was signed.  Then he wasn’t.  Then the Mets were involved.  It seemed to drag forever.  Here’s what I wrote at the time:

Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I really don’t want to see the Royals sign Guillen.  It flies in the face of everything Dayton Moore has laid out as his vision for the Royals.  GMDM is preparing to commit too much cash to a player who is already in the decline phase of his career.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that something will happen to put a kibosh on this deal.

Score one for the blogger!

About that decline phase?

I chose ISO because Guillen was brought to Kansas City under the assumption he would provide power.  This is just one graph but they all look like that.

Guillen was Dayton Moore’s second big free agent acquisition, but it hasn’t been the only time GMDM has bought high, only to be sold a bag of bricks. He bought high because he viewed Guillen’s 2007 season where he hit .290/.353/.460 to be in the neighborhood of his true production.  I can’t say I know that for a fact.  But if it wasn’t GMDM’s expectation, why would have signed him to such a deal?

To be fair, GMDM wasn’t really throwing money around like a crazy person that winter. Guillen was viewed by many as one of the better bats available.  In August of that year, Dave Cameron at USS Mariner thought the Mariners should re-up Guillen for three years at $30 million.  By the time free agency rolled around, it was thought the best Guillen could do would be a two year contract in the neighborhood of $10 to $12 million per year.  GMDM worked his magic and got him the extra year, just like in the Meche deal.  Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

I had what was probably a typical Royal fan relationship with Guillen.  I was annoyed when he showed up to his first spring training with the team out of shape.  I enjoyed his random outbursts.  I defended him against those who said he didn’t hustle.  Then I got tired of his lack of baseball ability.

While it’s a great thing Dayton Moore recognizes a sunk cost and is willing to cut the cord, we must remember who gave him a three year contract in the first place.  Hopefully, this is a sign he’s learned a lesson from this fiasco – it’s never a good idea to give a multi-year deal to a player whose best days are in the rearview mirror.  Never.

The joy of the Guillen departure means Kila is finally free.  Like I’ve said about Alex Gordon, there is no excuse for Ned to pencil Ka’aihue’s name into the lineup almost every single game from now until the end of the season.

We are now inching closer and closer to the ideal lineup for the rest of the season.

C – Pena
1B – Butler/Ka’aihue
2B – Getz
SS – Aviles
3B – Betemit
LF – Gordon
CF – Blanco
RF – Maier
DH – Ka’aihue/Butler

I know that the whole Brayan Pena should get playing time thing is a lost cause.  I’m not going there.  But I’d like to see it.

However, you’re next, Betancourt.

Of course the Guillen news was eclipsed by Zack Greinke presenting the Royals with his Nuclear Option:

“It’s not real exciting to have to go through it again,” he said. “It’s been six years with me, and most people (who are Royals fans) have been through a lot more than I have. But for me, it’s the third complete re-start/rebuilding phase.”
Would he be happier elsewhere?
“I like Kansas City,” Greinke said. “It’s a town that fits me pretty well. But I don’t know…at least put a team together that has a fighting chance (to win).”

I know there’s going to be a huge uproar over his comments, but did he really say anything we should be surprised about?  Put yourself in his shoes – or any Royal who signs a multi-year deal.  They all want to win (everyone, except for Rick Ankiel) so the only reason – the only reason – they sign with the Royals is because they buy the sales pitch offered by GMDM and the rest of the front office brain trust.  In Greinke’s case, he committed to the team because he thought they were making progress.  Of course, this street runs both ways – in order for the team to be competitive, Greinke has to do his share.  I’d say he’s delivered.  The brain trust?  Not so much.

So I can’t blame the guy for saying what we all figured was on his mind:  Losing sucks, no matter how much money you make.

Besides, we all know how uber-competitive Greinke is.  Apparently, he’ll turn anything into a competition.  He signed a four year deal with the expectation this team would compete.  They aren’t any closer to .500 than the day he signed his contract.

Also, he spoke to the elephant in the room.  Banking on prospects is risky business:

“There’s no reason for me to get real excited about it,” he said, “because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact by the time my contract is up is pretty slim.”

He used Alex Gordon as an example.  And it’s a fair one.  No matter how highly ranked these prospects are, ultimately no one has a clue how they will actually fare once they get to the majors.  Greinke also pointed to Delmon Young.  Young was in Gordon’s rookie class.  They were both supposed to compete for the Rookie Of The Year Award.  Neither of them did, and now, four years later, Young is finally beginning to fulfill his promise.  Gordon?  We all know the jury is still out on that one.

Some people are going to complain, and say that Greinke should keep his mouth shut.  He’s paid to pitch, not play GM, they’ll say.  I would counter by saying Greinke, as the leader and longest tenured Royal, has his opinions and has the right – and the obligation – to speak to those opinions. I think Greinke would commit to another extension, but he will need to see some definite progress.  I can’t say that I blame him. The problem for the Royals – his contract is running out which means the window for GMDM to prove this team is making progress  is closing.  No one who plays the game wants to end up like Mike Sweeney – hanging on well past his prime before hooking onto a potential contender in a utility role.

The only thing Greinke did on Wednesday is speak the truth.