We're only in Day 2 of baseball's Winter Meetings, but the Royals have already announced their presence -- without needing the trumpet-playing parrot for that extra flourish, either. ESPN is reporting that the Royals are finalizing a deal with Jose Guillen worth $36 million over three years, which would make him the second Seattle free agent to come over in the last two years. Guillen's signing, I'm sure, will be met with less aspersion than that other one, even though Guillen comes with a bit of baggage himself: inconsistency on the field and, more damningly, possible off-field trouble involving steroids. Although he denies having taken any illegal substances, he's on George Mitchell's watch list, and that's most definitely a bad sign.
We can discuss this another time though. The Royals still have work to do at these meetings. Following up on last year's success -- Gil Meche, Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria, anyone? -- won't be easy, but at least the rest of baseball know the Royals are players here, not spectators or scavengers content with the crumbs of the potentates. It's true, Dayton and the Moores are still very much the arrivistes in Nashville* -- literally so, having received blessings from the money-man to pursue more pricey free agents -- but they've made it clear they're no fools. The Steinbrenners and Epsteins of the world can engage in their Page 1 talks for Johan Santana all they want (giving up Phil Hughes will hurt the Yankees sooner than they think), but at the end of the day, each team will be measured by how much they've improved, and the Royals, if they can nab Andruw Jones or Hiroki Kuroda at market price, are poised to leave Nashville knowing they improved significantly.
The guys at MLB Trade Rumors are working at full tilt, and they've documented the Royals' pursuit of Guillen. Will he definitely work out and be a 30-HR guy next season? We can't be sure of that. But here's what we do know: Dayton Moore knows what he's doing, and that's all you can really ask for.
UPDATE: Not sure who Enrique Rojas is, but he's reporting that the Royals have interest in Sammy Sosa. Would Dayton really put Sosa and Guillen -- two guys of questionable character -- on the same team? If it happens, you can bet that means Dayton has a LOT of trust in Trey Hillman. A baseball editor said to me today that the worst case scenario for the Royals regarding Guillen is he could poison the clubhouse. I suppose that's a pretty bad-case scenario, but you have to have a little more faith in people than that, right? I mean, he's not a walking Bubonic plague. "We'll see," I said.