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Already Down Meche, Royals Await News on Brian Bannister

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Brian Bannister may be the latest Royal to have his season end prematurely due to injury. Yes, those terribly unlucky Royals just can't catch a break! I'm stunned that one of the most retrograde teams in the game would have a worn down pitching staff by September.

Per the Associated Press:


Royals starter Gil Meche is probably done for the year with a shoulder problem, and fellow right-hander Brian Bannister is flying to New York for a second opinion on his shoulder.

Royals manager Trey Hillman said on Thursday that Meche would most likely be shut down for the final weeks of the season. He declined to speculate on whether Bannister would need surgery.

The Royals did not disclose the exact nature of the problems.


(Mellinger's report in the Star can be read here.)

Frankly, no matter what the second opinion turns out to be, there's little reason to pitch Bannister anymore this season. Given how much the Royals believe (somewhat unjustifiably) that they've been truly bedeviled by injuries this season, you'd think that now that there's little left to play for, they'd be aggressively proactive about shutting people down. It's taken awhile, but that's (sorta apparently) happened with Gil Meche, which is a good thing.

Yes, I said it, the Royals are doing a good and smart thing here. Two weeks too late, but I'll take it.

Bannister's a slightly different case, in that his injury/fatigue/soreness/whatever has come on much more recently. Still, with endless auditions still available from Kyle Davies, as well as reliable appearances from Greinke and Hochevar, the Royals aren't terribly short-handed when it comes to throwing out intriguing yet mostly sub-optimal guys.

I don't think there's a huge difference between Bannister and Bruce Chen or Lenny DiNardo at this point, and certainly not a large difference over the course of two or three starts. We're talking about a pitcher in Bannister who always operates on the fringes of uselessness who also happens to have posted a 9.29 ERA in his last six starts. With Bannister, there's simply always going to be the BABIP issue: does he break the mold or does the mold break him. In his 9.29 ERA stretch, he's allowed an aggregate line of .326/.372/.486, thus answering almost perfectly a hypothetical question about how many runs per game a team of all 2009 Derek Jeters would score.

Hmm... maybe these problems aren't necessarily so new. In any event, we should all feel totally comfortable that the Royals will handle these injuries well.

This is how it goes with these guys, that great chattering mass of bodies named Davies, Hochevar, and Bannister. They'll look good, they'll look bad. They're all around. You can make cases for all of them, or against all of them. Davies was considered the best option heading into 2009, and he fell on his face. Then, we all lustily awaited Hochevar, who struggled, then turned into late 1990s Pedro for three starts, then fell apart. Nobody expected anything of Banny for 2009, and he, ever briefly, emerged as the best of the bunch. All the old Banny-Stats type of articles returned. Then he started sucking again.

In a way, it all makes Sidney Ponson look attractive in an Odalis Perez sort of way. Really and truly, you knew what you were getting with those guys.