By Mike Steffanos
Okay, we're going to try this again.
My Mom is now settled in a convalescent home, but her finances are a mess. Things are still kind of nuts, but I figure if I'm ever going to get back to blogging this season it's pretty much now or never.
I have a series of short articles planned for the next couple of weeks in more or less a "state of the Mets" type of style. One thing that I had intended to discuss was the way Jerry Manual was handling the Ryan Church situation, but that's obviously moot now.
For what it's worth, I would have liked to have seen them look into a platoon with Church. I thought he was a more than serviceable RF against right-handed pitching, and it wouldn't be that hard to find a decent RH bat to pair up with him.
Instead, however, the Mets made a trade with the Braves where they gave up a useful, if limited, offensive player for one who seems to be playing himself out of the league.
I found Minaya's point that Jeff Francoeur is an "everyday" type player silly. Sure, Francoeur has played in 162, 162 and 155 games over the last three seasons, but in the last season and a half his offensive line is .245/.292/.359. That might just barely cut it for a solid defensive backup catcher, but it doesn't justify an everyday job in RF. Just because he can play every day doesn't mean he should.
Look, I'm not completely married to numbers when it comes to young players with potential. At 25, Francoeur is a year older than Daniel Murphy and a year younger than David Wright. He's a former first round pick who managed to hit 29 home runs and drive in 103 as a 22-year-old. It even looked like he was learning to be more selective as a hitter right up until his disaster of a season last year.
I don't normally see New York City as the place to find yourself as a struggling young hitter, but Francoeur lived with the pressure of playing in his hometown of Atlanta, so that might cancel out the glare of the spotlight somewhat.
Still, as patience with the entire Mets organization wears thin with the fan base, there would seem to be little left over for a young hitter who is his own worst enemy. Even the power that Francoeur displayed early in his career has evaporated as he continuously gets himself out by chasing bad pitches.
Power and On Base Percentage drive the top offenses in today's game. The Mets have given a lot of lip service to becoming more patient and working opposing pitchers better, and then they pick up a player who represents the antithesis to that approach. I could understand gambling on potential, but I suspect that the Jeff Francoeur experiment will prove to be just a detour on the road to finding productive complementary players to surround the club's core. I honestly fear that the Mets will spend too much time trying to "fix" Jeff Francoeur if he continues to tease with potential while delivering terrible production.
I'm not as absolutely convinced as some of the pundits that the Francoeur experiment is doomed to failure, but I'm not optimistic. Moreover, I think this deal represents the larger fundamental failure of the current management team to really understand what it takes to build a winning team in MLB's current reality. On both that and the future of Jeff Francoeur I could only hope that I'm wrong.