By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
January 19, 2007
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The owner of the most woeful major league team this century made a bold promise Friday to long-suffering fans.
The Kansas City Royals will not just be better in 2007, David Glass said at the team's annual forecast luncheon -- they'll be contenders in the AL Central.
"I think all of us can look forward to a competitive team this year," Glass said. "We've not had good teams in recent years, but the fans have hung in there. All we want is to have a competitive team, where every time we go out to the park we feel we have a chance to win. And I think that's what we've got this year."
Glass, who allowed his team to make moves in the free-agent market, said his peers seemed miffed when he saw them at Thursday's owners' meeting in Phoenix.
"We listened to the commissioner berate all of us for the escalating salaries and what we're doing to the economics of baseball," he said. "But all of them were all on my case complaining about the things that we're doing, we're overly aggressive, that we've got all these things going on. The more they complain, the better I like it, because they'll pay the price later on in the season."
Kansas City has lost 100 or more games in four of its last five seasons, including a 62-100 finish last year. The Royals then gave a $55 million, five-year contract to 28-year-old right-hander Gil Meche, a $5 million, one-year deal to reliever Octavio Dotel and a $2.25 million, one-year contract to reliever David Riske.
Prospect Alex Gordon seems poised to take over at third base, and hard-throwing right-hander Luke Hochevar is climbing through the system after being taken as the overall No. 1 pick in last year's amateur draft.
"I may need a scorecard to figure out who all the new players are," Glass said. "This is perhaps the most exciting team Kansas City has fielded in a long time."
New general manager Dayton Moore also has added 13 front office positions in the baseball department.
"The thing I'm most excited about is the leadership team we've put in place," said Moore, who was hired last June to replace the fired Allard Baird.
"I've told a lot of people throughout the process we did have some success in making some trades that we're excited about, acquiring free agents," Moore added. "But the leadership team we've put in place and the processes we have gone through ... that's been the most gratifying for me."
Meche is 55-44 with a 4.65 ERA in six seasons, all with the Seattle Mariners. He missed the 2001 season with a rotator cuff injury and spent 2002 in the minors.
He was 11-8 with a career-best 4.48 ERA last year and probably will start Kansas City's opener.
"Once we get to a point where we have two to three players every year come through our farm system who can compete for a spot on our 40-man roster, we'll have the potential to sustain some consistency at the major league level, without a doubt," Moore said.
"The economics of the game are what they are," he said. "It is very competitive. Certainly it's great for the players. But at the same time for us to be able to manage our payroll effectively, we have to have a great farm system. It takes four, five years to develop your farm system and get that steady flow. But there's no doubt that we'll be able to do that."