Around the Horn – Right Field
February 17, 2010
This position lacks the excitement that most of the other positions have. That is because it will be occupied by a player who will never appear in an all-star lineup, but at the same time will not have you scratching your head wondering why this player is your regular right fielder. Let’s cut to the chase.
Jeff Francoeur – When the Mets parted ways with Ryan Church and acquired Francoeur, it was easy to see why the trade was made…from the Mets’ perspective for a change. I believe that the trade was one-sided, with the Mets on the positive side. Yes, I did just say that! Hey, not EVERY move made by Omar Minaya is horrible.
Church had some ability. He could field quite well, and handled right-handed pitching just fine. However, his inability to hit a lick against southpaws was glaring, and this ultimately relegates him to a platoon player at best. Sprinkle in his propensity to sustain injuries (AKA Met Disease), and you have a guy who could be out of baseball in the next couple of years. Since the trade, the Atalanta Braves gave up on him after witnessing his lack of production first hand. He has since been signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates to serve as their fourth outfielder. I guess the path to baseball non-existence has already begun for Church.
As far as Francouer is concerned, he has suffered a bit of a fall from grace himself. Here is a guy who was one of the jewels of Atlanta’s farm system. When he arrived in the big leagues in 2005, he shot out of the cannon like a bat out of hell, looking like he could not miss meeting his high expectations. He posted stats of .300, 14 and 45 on just 257 at bats. 2006 and 2007 were very productive full seasons for Jeff, posting at least 100 RBI in both seasons, although the rest of the numbers were lower than the scouts anticipated (.260 batting average in 2006 and only 19 HR in 2007 to name a few). It was 2008 that produced the most disturbing numbers for Francoeur. With a stat line of .239, 11 and 71 in over 650 at bats, coupled with an obvious lack of confidence, it is easy to see why the Braves began to show some significant frustration. He began to drop lower in the order, and even had a stint in the minor leagues that season to help regain his confidence. This is not supposed to happen to a one-time blue chip prospect. Finally, after another slow start, the Braves could not hold back their disappointment any longer, and made the trade for Church with the Mets.
Fracnoeur had a decent showing with the Mets after the trade last year, posting numbers of .311, 10, and 41 in 289 at bats. Not bad. The ultimate positive with Francoeur is that he looks like a decent player. The superstar label was trashed years ago now, and that is fine. He does not take a walk and strikes out plenty, which relegates him to batting a bit lower in the order. However, with projected numbers of .275, 22 and 95 in a full season, I think any Met fan would take that over what Church could offer as a platoon player. After all, Francoeur’s splits versus right and left-handed pitching is not that bad. In fact they are fairly typical of most big league right-handed hitters. His defense will not stand out as either negative or positive, but with a strong arm in right, I think we’ll take that as well.
What else can I say? It doesn’t make me nauseous to see him out in right field every day, so that is certainly something. Isn’t it?