Yesterday I posted a widely controversial blog about my disdain over much of the internet reaction to the Jeff Francoeur trade on Wednesday night. The post was intended to characterize the stark differences between internet savvy Mets fans and those who follow the team in more traditional ways. It was also my own personal reaction to the hate-fest that took place that evening on Facebook and mostly Twitter. Surely, no Mets player who gives 110% deserves the barrage of vile jokes and personal attacks that Frenchy got that night. And you wonder why the Mets have to always overpay to get a decent free agent to play in Flushing…
I have more respect for a player like Jeff Francoeur who gives it his all and busts his ass day in and day out, rather than a Manny Ramirez who is a tremendous athlete and one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
Unfortunately, going full tilt and giving 110% is one thing, but performance is clearly something else. Effort is an amazing thing, but unless you have the production to match it, it doesn’t always translate into wins.
Over the years, we have seen and heard all the rants and all the reports on how lazy and lackadaisical Manny Ramirez is. His massive ego can easily overwhelm an entire clubhouse and if you so much as utter a simple word of advice to him, he will either pout and dog it even more on the field or he evolves into a highly paid clubhouse cancer that eventually must be cut out, leaving a bloodied and beaten team morale in its aftermath. Manny is the antithesis of a player like Jeff Francoeur… He is Francoeur’s polar opposite… And yet, if you were building a team, you would select Ramirez over Francoeur every time without any second thoughts.
Why is that?
Because in the end what matters most is winning. The Dodgers knew exactly what they were doing when they traded for Manny Ramirez, as did the Boston Red Sox when they signed Manny as a free agent in 2001. They both knew all to well what type of personality they were getting themselves involved with. They both knew there was a very good chance his tenure with the team would be oftentimes controversial and sometimes even detrimental to the team. But the reward was so much greater than the risk of his temperamental and volatile personality. In the end, the Red Sox got five post season appearances and two World Series rings out of it, and the Dodgers went to the post season twice in their two seasons with Manny. As I said, winning is what matters most.
And that brings us back to Jeff Francoeur.
Many mistakenly took my post yesterday to mean that I disagreed with trading Francoeur, and I’ll say it again, I was upset with the foul reaction to the trade and not the trade itself. While I was on Twitter Wednesday night, I actually defended the trade as a good one for the Mets and wrote via Twitter,
“We traded a player in Francoeur who wasn’t coming back and got a 26YO 2B who is better than Tejada/Castillo right now. Nobody liked Francoeur more than me, but he was gone at end of season and we got a 2B who can hit better than Tejada & Castillo.”
After a tremendous start to his Mets career during the second half of last season, I thought Francoeur’s worst days were behind him and said as much repeatedly on this site.
When this season finally started and Francoeur, along with Barajas, was carrying the team throughout the month of April. I was absolutely ecstatic.
However, my enthusiasm would be short-lived.
As April turned into May things started to dissolve quickly for Jeff Francoeur… a two week slump turned into a one month slump… and then a one month slump turned into a two month slump… and finally it was August and Frenchy was batting .225 for the season.
It don’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the saber heads had been screaming all along. Francoeur had reverted back to his old habits and in the end, our friend James K. from Amazin Avenue put the cherry on top when he posted the following:
Frenchy’s final slash lines with the Braves and Mets:
It all came crashing down.
$5 million dollars is way too much money to pay for that type of production, and I now knew the writing was on the wall because there would be no chance in hell that the Mets would be bringing Francoeur back for the 2011 season. (Rightfully so.)
As August wore on, Francoeur would eventually lose his everyday job in rightfield, and things really began to hit rock bottom for him emotionally as well as competitively.
That the Mets even got a player in return for him was rather surprising.
I thought Francoeur would just finish the season out and then get non-tendered leaving the Mets empty handed, so I applaud Minaya for getting us a 26-year old infielder who could eventually help the team in a variety of ways.
So is there a lesson to be learned in the aftermath of all this rancor?
Yes. A great personality and work ethic won’t take you very far if you can’t back it up with production. And the bottom line is that Francoeur’s production reverted back to the same level that caused the team who drafted him in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft to give up on him last season.
Hopefully Joaquin Arias will fare much better in the next few years than Ryan Church did.
I do have one redeeming grace… I was right about one thing…
Francoeur, as bad as he was statistically, was still outperforming Ryan Church who currently sports a slash line of .192/.249/.318 in 213 plate appearances. My buddy Mark owes me $50 bucks, and my cousin owes me a steak dinner at Peter Luger’s.