Leftridge: Godspeed, Alex Gordon, You Beautiful Bastard

alex1Much to the surprise of nobody, longest current Kansas City Royal Alex Gordon will officially hit the free agent market tonight at 11pm…

It’s a bittersweet moment for a franchise mostly bereft of “career” Royals; you know, guys who were here from sunup to sundown. Guys like George Brett and Frank White. But that model of organizational structure is mostly an archaic sentiment in modern baseball, anyway. Bryce Harper won’t be a Washington National his whole life; someone other than the Angels will probably give Mike Trout an ill-advised deal when he’s an old, feeble man.

And it seems likely that someone other than the Royals will give Gordon an inadvisable deal in the here and now. Most figures being floated about feature the number five and 90,000,000. (You know, as in “years” and “dollars.”) That’s handsome coin, and maybe not irrational for the next two-to-three years. But in years four and five of such a deal, Gordon will be 36 and 37-years-old. How often does it work out when you pay a 37-year-old $20M plus? Not often, for sure. (Especially when that player’s worth is based heavily on things with a potentially rapid declination trajectory—things like outfield speed and base running abilities.)

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals poses for a portrait on photo day at the Surprise Sports Complex on February 21, 2013 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

So I guess what I’m saying is, have fun with your .260 hitter with limited power in 2020, Chicago Cubs.

OK, maybe the grapes this morning are extra sour. I’ll admit it. (I’m REALLY resisting the urge to harp on the fact that Billy Butler was actually the better hitter by most statistical measures, that Gordon’s .783 career OPS is only good for 17th all-time in Royals’ history [behind David DeJesus, FFS], and that Joe Randa had more RBI while playing 120 fewer games. So, you know, if we don’t look at WAR, Gordon would be near the bottom of the top-10 in most offensive statistical categories. [These are dumb, pointless facts, I know. But piss off, I’m trying to make it hurt less.])

Because the fact of the matter is, I hate that they can’t keep Alex Gordon. He’s an excellent player and a (seemingly) good dude, and he’s everything you’d want your franchise to be. He’s tireless and relentless and, had it not been for his 9th inning homerun in Game One of the World Series, the New York Mets win that game and who KNOWS where the series goes from there.

Alex Gordon saved this team.

Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon prepares for a batting session during spring training baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Even before that defining, dramatic postseason moment, he plied the club with a legitimacy that had been missing for decades. His mantle full of Gold Gloves and frequent, jaw-dropping SportsCenter highlights pulled Kansas City out of a dank dungeon of anonymity; even when the Royals were still in the business of losing 100 games a season, people knew and respected Alex’s game. He was, as he was preordained to be, the Face of the Franchise.

And now he will move on. Someday he’ll return, I’m sure, for his Hall of Fame induction. Maybe he’ll do that pointless thing where he signs a one-day contract for a dollar, just so he can retire a Royal. Maybe after that, when he’s had a few years to rest and eat the things he’s deprived himself of for years—you know, like French fries—he’ll come back and coach. Maybe he’ll show “the next NEXT George Brett” the proper way to play the game, the same way he’s always played it: with dedication, devotion, and a subtle, concentrated intensity.

I’d like that.

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24 Responses to Leftridge: Godspeed, Alex Gordon, You Beautiful Bastard

  1. Kerouac says:

    “had it not been for his 9th inning homerun in Game One of the World Series, the New York Mets win that game and who KNOWS where the series goes from there.”

    – truth, that… further nod ‘what if’, had Cespedes not misplayed that first pitch routine fly ball into an error/Royals run, Gordon’s homerun wouldn’t have mattered at all. The ‘mo’ in mentum Kerouac predicted would result game 1 winner, said totally susceptible the vagaries as described, two evenly-matched mediocre’s KC/NY stumbled their way through the series.

    “someone other than the Angels will probably give Mike Trout an ill-advised deal when he’s an old, feeble man.”

    – cue swiss chiefs… were Trout a QB instead a CF and was located a bit farther north, San Francisco, the swiss would trade for him decade down the line; as it stands, Colin Kaepernick comes to KC in due time, continue their lineage lunacy (DeBerg, Montana, Bono, Grbac, Smith, Kaepernick…)

    Back to Alex Gordon, on a star-bereft team such as the Royals, the loss of Gordon will likely be felt a greater extent than on a team of stars, say the ‘Big Red Machine’. Part the 1970’s Cincinnati Reds chock full ‘names’, complimentary piece, not even a starter (behind Pete Rose, then George Foster.) On Kansas City’s team, an far greater impact because though Gordon’s numbers aren’t all that impressive (quite pedestrian career), relatively speaking big fish in a small pond, one vital cog among all the others in unison; individually, on another team, ‘jag’ (just another guy.)

    Kerouac is reminded youth, when first became aware thing called ‘trade’, ‘release’ and ‘retirement’, hand in hand innocence. One year, your sports hero is there, the next, he is gone – where’d he go? Age ‘free agency’ not then in vogue, the disappointment born was part and parcel harsh reality: one’s object of worship no longer there, and ‘Shane’ is never coming back.

    • Owen says:

      Notice how he picks the stats that “support” his “story”. Defensively he saved soooo many runs from scoring by either nailing someone at the plate, holding them to a single, or just plain robbing them from a hit completely…

      • Brandon Leftridge says:

        No, I acknowledge as such. Just trying to talk myself off the ledge.

      • Kerouac says:

        GORDON! GORDON! We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!

        Notice how facts remain facts? Always? Notice how Gordon’s apologist refutes nothing in lieu an change of subject.

        He likes defense. Kerouac loves a good debate. Good. Not nearly as valuable ‘big stick’, but beggars can’t be choosers. If you want both defensive & prodigious offense a plate, one name comes to mind – 3 letters in fact:

        Yaz

        Alex Gordon? Gesundheit. He’s a little like Carl Yastrzemski – very little. Both play(ed) LF… there the comparison any ends.
        As Kerouac said, Gordon’s are dime a dozen (before inflation), MLB; complimentary, not the straw that stirs anyone’s drink.

        Yaz and Gordon… the star and jag.

        Carl played LF. won 12 Gold Gloves, 5 in his first 8 seasons; Alex has 4 his first 8… even his ‘best’ falls short. Comparison any ends here too.

        The well-rounded player is separated the one-trick pony, wheat from chaff, ‘star’ from ‘journeyman’ talent.

        Yaz first 8 years, he won an MVP Award and 3 batting titles. Gordon? 0 and 0. Yaz made 5 All Star Games first 8 years; Gordon made 3. Yaz was an All Star in his 3rd season and a 4-time nominee by his 7th season… Gordon did not make an All Star appearance – his first – until his 7th season.

        So much for defense alone, apparently.

        Both bat(ted) left: Yaz had ‘the swing’ that air conditioned an entire ballpark; Gordon struck out 100+ times 6 of his first 8 seasons (only reason he didn’t the other two years, is he was back in the minors or injured.) Yaz never struck out 100 x in any single season his entire 23-year career.

        Dual roles Kerouac, defense as well prosecution rests.

        Yaz and Gordon… difference a star and jag.

        🙂

  2. Nick says:

    What you’re not saying (and what I’m afraid of as well) is that Alex’s departure is but the first step toward the Royals inevitable diminishment and their subsequent silent sidle into the West…

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still…
    But I with mournful tread,
    Walk the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    • Owen says:

      2018 is the year they diminish. with all of the contracts that we lose control over at that point, we’ll either lose a lot of regulars, or have a payroll of 160- mill.

  3. CG says:

    Runs don’t last forever. Ask the Yankees, Detroit, Giants…uh, unless you are New England Pats with Tom Brady the alltime modern best player. That guy. So barring finding some young guys, the Royals have at least next year to rule their division. We need to find starting pitching to go deep in playoffs again. Year after that who knows. Brett’s Royals ruled for 9 years, but had two world series one win, like this one who has ruled for just two years…so we are ahead of the game.

  4. CFPCowboy says:

    A Go Fund me page to keep Zobrist and Gordon in KC?

  5. HARLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    hey math…no one said kcc readers were the smartest kids in school.

  6. Jim a.k.a. BWH says:

    Just part of the deal when you are in a small/mid-size market. I’ll hate not seeing him roaming around left field, but I’ll celebrate everything he brought to this team. Really happy for him that he was able to win a championship with the Royals. He earned that and he earned his payday.

    Best of luck, Gordo.

  7. Frank says:

    Was there a reason for calling him a bastard?

  8. Furioso says:

    We’re going to miss Gordo but this is what free agency is all about. Maybe Dayton can keep the magic flowing by getting a decent replacement. If not, at least we got a WS out of it all.

  9. Kerouac says:

    ~ A story baseball fame, fortune and faux pas ~

    What’s more ridiculous than the claims 800,000? Shades ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ – a number you can count on – 71 mill – number of $ that Zack Greinke, formerly Royal, now formerly underpaid Dodger, gave up recently opting out of his remaining 3-years remaining contract.

    Gambling he’ll find more a generous baseball benefactor elsewhere, one bet he’s yet to realize: a ‘World Series’ ring, any of his four previous MLB stops, KC, MIL, ANAH, LA. Five-year regret$ now that KC’s done what it could not Brewers, Angels & Dodgers his former’s naught?

    Chances for a Paris on the Plains, redux? This case, probably would be about 800,000 to 1, against.

    Go on, take the money and (keep) run(ning.)

    🙂

    • miket. says:

      so in zack’s case, left KC after he learned how to pitch at the major league level, and keep whatever weirdness that was in his head at bay. decided Royals were losers forever and went to another team with more money, more potential, then did it again, etc. Grass is greener, maybe? or the money greener?

      would you, k’rac, trade a championship ring for the fortune he’s earned since leaving? (side note: this is exactly what some teams (owners) did — pay 100s of millions of dollars to get a trophy. and, ironically, is how this all started escalating. reserve clause was indentured servitude, but the pendulum has gone yard into the bay.)

      i’m sure he thought it was a faster route with another team, or it is just all about the money?

      for Gordon, he’s paid his dues, earned top billing, and if that means cashing in (or would it be ‘cashing out’ in this case? craig? ), can’t really blame him. he waited for the payoff and became the face of a franchise, if you will. zack did not.

      • Furioso says:

        Zack is all about the money, no doubt about it. He’ll soon be on another team that’s willing to pay him a hundred million dollars. I kind of doubt he cares too much about a ring.

  10. Kerouac says:

    Walking away from an guaranteed 3-years $71 mill in an attempt get more, suggests ego is in play, an green-eyed monster and desire keep up with the Jones’s – this case, Dodgers Kershaw, who signed for $215 mill 7-years; so much for our obscenity laws.

    If GREEDY- er, Greinke did desire to win a Championship, appears his priorities have changed: ‘I’ndividual fir$t, ‘team’ second (am certain he’d deny said – am just as sure if winning a Championship was truly the priority, his choice to sign with Milwaukee 2011 left the public unconvinced.)

    He may re-sign with Los Angeles, an attempt have his cake & eat it too – no one has more money to spend than the Dodgers; as for Championship potential one could do worse than Los Angeles, but could also do a lot better: has been no WS winner there since 1988; Greinke’s choice will affirm priority.

    Kerouac’s take: if $71 mill for 3-years wasn’t enough, no amount ever will be, whether Championship included or not (one could surmise the same re: other players – as KC’s Gordon for example: he has made over $41 million his career; if earning $12 mill 2015 & winning a Championship necessitates seeing ‘how much more’ the market will bear, the final choice again will affirm the priority.

    Examples the disconnect modern day sports world for Kerouac, others.

    Some 50 years ago, 1966, Sandy Koufax (best pitcher in baseball) and Don Drysdale (best pitching tandem MLB), held out for raises. Three ‘World Series’ in 4 seasons an indication their prowess, Koufax signed for $125,000 & Drysdale $110,000 – today, that translates to about $925,000 and $814,000.

    ‘Real’ 2015 dollar$, based their ability/inflation, what would Koufax & Drysdale cost?

    Hello, $20 hot dog.

    Obviously the cost of egos has outpaced the cost of inflation, price a Championship has surpassed ability about 90% all MLB teams keep a winner together… beyond one year.

  11. Kerouac says:

    “his choice to sign with Milwaukee 2011 left the public unconvinced.”

    – should read “his choice to sign with Los Angeles 2013” (Dodgers now up to part 2016, vesre 28 their Championship-bereft sojourn)

  12. Furioso says:

    I just read that 35 year old Alex Rios made 10 million this year with the Royals. If that’s true then Glass can certainly afford to give Alex Gordon (A-Gor) 18 million a year for 5 years.

    And since Glass can afford it why not do it? A-Gor adds so much to the team besides numbers/defense. He’s a perfect teammate, the org loves him, the fans love him. He’s the catalyst that makes everything work. I say that’s priceless.

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