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French Twist

Mike SteffanosMonday, July 13, 2009
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.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

Comments (6)

How far has the patient approach to hitting gotten them?! How many called strikes do we need David and Beltran to take before someone says just take the bat off of your friggin' shoulders! Let the man swing, they've got nothing else to do!

So you believe the patient approach to hitting is behind all of the Mets offensive problems? Wow...

Alex Rios is slated to make $9.7 million next year, $12 million in 2011 and 2012, and 12.5 in 2013 and 2014. I think he's a nice player, but not for that kind of money. There's a reason Toronto can't move him and Vernon Wells.

I don't think that's the reason behind the offensive issues. The problems stem from Reyes, Beltran and Delgado being out of the lineup so nobody gives Wright anything good to hit. How many times has he swung on a slider away on a 3-2 count? You have empty bases in front of him and no protection so why throw him anything good to hit? Which is why it kills me when he takes a throw-me-over fastball early in the count.

No team in baseball is built to lose their lead-off, 3rd and 4th hitters, NONE!!!!

Good to see your byline again, big guy!

I see Jeff Francoeur and I think of Corey Snyder, another guy who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.

I would love to be wrong, would love to see Francoeur succeed, but mostly I hope that the Mets don't manage to throw two seasons away in the hope that Frenchy can learn what he hasn't learned in 2600+ major league plate appearances: that successful hitters don't swing at balls outside the strike zone.

I don't know, Sam, Wright has always been a patient hitter and he's made it work in the past. As far as all of the injuries, of course no team could overcome all of those losses. At this point they're building for the future, and that's my primary concern.
Good to hear from you again, Dan. Hope your summer is going better than the Mets.

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