01.15.05

Mike Sweeney And The Royals’ Future

Posted in Baseball at 10:51 pm by

Well, first of all, Mike can accompany Harry and William on their field trip to Auschwitz. Maybe they’ll all learn something together. Then, maybe the trio can take turns answering the phones for Tsunami Aid, before adjourning to watch Ali G on DVD .

Sorry, wrong Royals.

After signs of life in ’03, last season was a bust for Tony Pena’s club. Without much in the way of top flight talent heading Kansas City’s way this off-season, 1B Mike Sweeney is discouraged, but The Kansas City Star’s Mike Posnanski doesn’t wanna hear it.

This week, Mike Sweeney came out once again to say that he’s depressed about the direction of the Royals, he can’t believe the team won’t spend more money, he wouldn’t necessarily mind being traded, etc. You might remember two years ago, Sweeney made similar comments while appearing on the Royals’ caravan. This time, he decided to save the gas money and rip the team from home.

Now, you cannot blame Mike Sweeney for feeling frustrated. He wants to win very badly ” everyone who knows him understands this ” and the Royals are coming off a 104-loss season. The team’s big off-season move thus far (other than firing marketing people and quietly lowering payroll while hoping no one would notice) was to bring back Jose Lima. Sweeney’s friend Joe Randa is gone, and so is Carlos Beltran. This is hard on the fans. You can only imagine how much it hurts Sweeney.

You know the story: Three years ago, when Sweeney was one of the best hitters in baseball, he chose to go against convention, against advice, against his own union, and stay in Kansas City. There’s no doubt he could have made more money on the open market. He could have gone to a contender. He was wanted. He stayed to lead the Royals.

Now, he’s 31 years old, he has back issues, he’s never made the playoffs, the team looks lost, and time slips away. This hasn’t turned out at all like he hoped.

Yeah, I understand completely why he feels frustrated and misled.

But Sweeney just embarrasses himself with these absurd outbursts. He just makes himself look very bad. He feels frustrated? Misled? How does he imagine the Royals feel? Sweeney has not played a full season in three years. He’s coming off by far his worst offensive season since becoming a regular. He stopped walking, he missed 50 games, he hit two sacrifice flies all last year. He also regressed enough defensively that the Royals simply do not feel comfortable playing him at first base anymore.

For all this, they paid him $11 million.

And now he’s ripping the direction of his team? Give me a small break.

Michael, you are the direction of this team.

This is the part I wish Sweeney understood better. There is only one other small-market team in the game paying a single player $11 million or more (and that’s the Cincinnati Reds paying hometown hero Ken Griffey). The Royals have invested everything they have in Sweeney. Everything. They gave him big money. They called him captain. They made him the face of the franchise. They batted him cleanup. They kept trying to play him at first base because that was what he wanted.

They have stuck by him through injuries and a sinking batting average.

And for what? Here are a few of the things the Royals might like in return: For Sweeney to always play hard (check, he always does that), for him to hit .300 (nope, hasn’t done that in two seasons), for him to drive in 100 runs (nope, hasn’t done that in four seasons), for him to stay healthy (he has not been lucky in that category) and for him to be a leader and an example for the other players (he does his best) ¦

Wait, er, there seems to be one other thing I’m missing.

Oh yeah. For $11 million, they might like for Sweeney to NOT TEAR APART THE TEAM EVERY STINKING OFF-SEASON AND MAYBE NOT MENTION POSSIBLE TRADES BEFORE SPRING TRAINING EVEN BEGINS.

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