In Defense Of Jeff Francoeur

An article by posted on July 11, 2009

It’s amazing how wide ranging the opinions have been on the trade that sent Ryan Church to Atlanta for Jeff Francoeur on Friday.

It looks likes this trade has the fan base far more divided than the Lastings Milledge trade, with both sides either loving it or hating it.

I took a spin around a few Braves sites, just to see what they were saying. Here is some of what I found:

Another stupid trade. Frenchy is a much better player than Church is. They could have got more in return than Church and they gave the Mets money like they needed it. Another front office blunder. I hope they don’t ever win another game and the Mets flourish.

Francoeur has 235 more hits than Ryan Church in one fewer season in the big leagues .. He has significantly more runs batted in, more triples, more doubles, more of everything that counts ..

Picture Frenchy trying to hit a homer at Citi Field, LOL Someone tell the Mets no-givsies-backsies.

Mostly, they were split down the middle, but those that hated the trade were more ticked off that he went to the Mets rather than a team outside the division.

Most needlessly poor move I’ve ever seen by a GM in baseball. Honestly, if you must trade him (which I’m certainly not convinced is the case), you don’t trade him to the Mets. Give him to the Royals for a bag of balls and bats. Not the Mets. Not ever. Frank Wren has handled his GM duties regarding team chemistry with all the grace and care of a grenade in a phone booth. It’s becoming hard to watch. The guy is a putz. Period.

I don’t think this trade merits all the doomsday scenarios that I’ve read, especially among many of my Mets friends and fellow Mets bloggers. Please let me explain…

We gave up Ryan Church who couldn’t maintain an everyday job with the Washington Nationals. After the Mets got him, we saw one amazing month in 1 1/2 seasons. In that time, the Mets also came to the conclusion that Church was not an everyday player, and he only played in two-thirds of the team’s games this season. He never hit more than 15 homeruns in his career and he was on pace to hit 4 homeruns this season. I loved his defense and he had a great arm, but he was clearly out of favor with the organization. He was a marked man and his days were numbered. Everybody knew that.

I’m sure the Mets tried to get the most that they could for Church. But let’s be real… We weren’t going to get Carlos Lee or Alex Rios for him. We weren’t going to get Matt Holliday or Roy Halladay for him either. The best the Mets could hope for is acquiring another rightfielder who might have a chance to become a decent everyday player in the future. And that’s exactly what they got.

There is no reason to over analyze all the anagrams, and agonize like it’s the end of the world.

Regardless of what you may have heard or read, Jeff Francoeur is a low risk/high reward type player.

Also, lets not forget that Omar Minaya has developed a penchant for finding those diamonds in the rough; John Maine, Duaner Sanchez (before the car accident), Xavier Nady, Omir Santos, etc.

At the age of 24, Francoeur already had two 100 RBI seasons under his belt coming into this season, compared to zero for Ryan Church. Church had a career high 70 RBI in 2007, and never had more than 50 in any other season.

As Gary Cohen pointed out last night, baserunners are so aware of his powerful arm, that they no longer even test him. You won’t see many runners digging for third base like you did against Ryan Church twice in the the recently completed Dodgers series. (Both of Church’s throws were off line and late.)

Since his rookie year in 2005, the former Braves first-rounder leads the major leagues in outfield assists with 66. There are none better. While some may argue that Ryan Church gives you gold glove caliber type defense, Jeff Francoeur is the only one of the two that actually won a gold glove. 

Francoeur has had an interesting start to his career…

In his first game with Atlanta, Francoeur made his debut a memorable one when he launched a dramatic 8th inning 3-run homer, his first Major League hit.

In 2006, Francoeur hit .260 with 29 homers and 103 RBIs in his first full season in the majors. He also played in all 162 games, and in May of that season he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Washington Nationals.

In 2007, Francoeur batted .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs. He led the league in outfield assists with 19 and earned his first Gold Glove. Francoeur also played in all 162 games for the second consecutive season.

In 2008, Francoeur was mired in a 4 week long slump that saw his batting average drop to .234, and the Braves responded by demoting him to the minor leagues. Francoeur was devastated and embarrassed and he went public with his feelings and criticized the organization, a move that didn’t sit well with GM Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox. The Jeff Francoeur who thrilled Braves fans for 2 1/2 seasons would never be seen again.

This winter, Francoeur drew the ire of the organization when in an attempt to correct his swing went to Texas to work with Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. All Francoeur wanted to do was improve as a hitter, and he had it in his head that the Braves had given up on him. In any event and whatever the reason, it was the last straw.

If there was ever a more convincing case of a player that needed a change of scenery and a fresh start this is it.

We are talking about a young player who has already tasted a lot of success before the age of 25, and yet he is very willing to better himself even seeking out the help of another team’s hitting coach. I gotta tell you, that says a lot about a guy. I’m with Omar on this one…

I like Ryan Church, but I like Francoeur’s potential a heck of a lot better.

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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