Without making any predictions, Jeff Francis said he can see parallels between the young Kansas City Royals of 2011 and the pennantwinning Colorado Rockies he pitched for in 2007.
That's one reason the 30-year-old lefthander agreed to terms on a one-year contract Friday with Kansas City, a deal worth about $2 million.
"I think they're on similar paths that Colorado was five or six years ago," Francis said. "So, I've seen it happen and I know it can be done. It's certainly an exciting time for an organization."
Also on Friday, the Royals settled on a $1.4 million, one-year deal with outfielder Alex Gordon, leaving first baseman Billy Butler and right-handed pitchers Kyle Davies and Robinson Tejeda as the only arbitration-eligible players still unsigned. Earlier this week, right-hander Luke Hochevar avoided arbitration when he agreed to a one-year deal for $1.76 million.
Francis was 17-9 with the Rockies in 2007 when they won 21-of-22 games in a September run to the NL wild-card spot and advanced to the club's first World Series. He beat the Philadelphia Phillies in a playoff start but underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in early 2009 and missed the entire season.
He came back in 2010 with spotty success, going 4-10 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games.
He said he had some shoulder soreness late last year which caused the ERA to climb, but feels OK now.
"I've been feeling really good," he said. "I've been able to do anything I wanted to up to this point. I'm excited about it. I'll be ready to go for spring training."
For his career, Francis is 55-50 with a 4.77 ERA in 150 appearances, all but one as a starter.
"I sort of tailed off at the end of (2010) with a bit of shoulder soreness," he said. "Numbers-wise, a lot of things have to go a pitcher's way to achieve certain numbers goals. For me, I concentrate on what I need to do to throw strikes and get people out. I think that's what's going to make a pitcher successful, to concentrate on what he can control."
The promise of a lot of youthful talent coming through the system was one reason he wanted to cast his lot with Kansas City, he said.
"From everything I've been able to learn, they certainly have the talent available. It's on its way up. The organization has taken the steps to sort of foster that."
Gordon has been a major disappointment since being the overall No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft. Projected as a future star at third base, he moved to the outfield last year after a stint in the minor leagues. He is a career .244 hitter with 45 home runs in 408 games for the Royals. He could start this year in left field.
Gordon's contract also includes $100,000 in performance bonuses.