Kansas City Royals pitcher, Gil Meche [fastball (89-95), slider(85-89), curve(73-79), changeup(81-84)], announced his retirement from MLB yesterday due to recurring shoulder troubles that forced him to miss the majority of the 2010 season.
Meche displayed integrity and humility that is rarely exposed by the modern athlete. His decision to walk away from $12 million in the final year of his contract shows “it was not about the money” but for love of the game.
The 32 year-old right-hander signed a five-year, $55 million contract before the 2007 season. It was a classic case of the Kansas City Royals overpaying for a free agent to lure them into helping transform a losing environment. However, Meche never demonstrated the ability to live up to such lofty expectations.
Prior to signing the contract, Meche pitched in parts of six seasons with the Seattle Mariners, compiling a 55-44 record, 4.65 ERA, and 1.44 WHIP. His raw talent on the mound never really translated in the box score.
Meche gained his only All-Star nomination in his first year with the Royals. Meanwhile, he led the American League in games started in each of his first two seasons while posting a sub-4.00 ERA.
In 2009, his career began to regress shortly after a 132-pitch outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 16th. He began to feel discomfort in his shoulder and never would regain his 2007-08 status.
An injury-plagued 2010 season proved to be the last for the former 1996 1st round draft pick. Meche pitched a scoreless inning in relief on October 3 against Tampa Bay in his final appearance in the Major Leagues.
Meche finished his career with an 84-83 record, 4.49 ERA, and 1.42 WHIP. He should be remembered for his dignity and integrity not his bloated contract and average MLB production.