Prying Francoeur from the Braves

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The other day Yahoo!’s Gordon Edes was reporting
that the Red Sox were scouting Jeff Francoeur. I kind of doubt it
actually, given that Francoeur is pretty much the polar opposite of
what Theo Epstein, Bill James and the rest of that gang in Boston looks
for in a player. My guess: if Red Sox people were in Atlanta, they were
advance scouting the Blue Jays.

But let’s say it’s true, and the Sox truly are interested in Failcouer.
What should the Braves expect back for him? If I were Frank Wren I’d
probably be happy with anything north of a kick to the groin, and I’d
consider the kick to the groin for a good long while if it meant
ditching Frenchy. But I’m not Frank Wren and I have a hard time
handicapping trades. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is stumped too, so they threw the question out to their readers.
Among the actual responses they received were “A bag of beans”; “20
bats and they pay his ticket out of town”; “A ham sandwich to be named
later”; “air”; and “Ortiz.” I’m not sure whether that last one is a
bigger insult to Big Papi or Francoeur. That ham sandwich offer seems
pretty sweet though.

While this is an obviously unscientific survey, it does have some
value: it challenges the assumption the Braves seem to have that
local-boy Francoeur is some uber-popular guy in Atlanta who must be
given more latitude to stink than other players are. He’s not, and even
the message board posters of the AJC — where the worst of the
Francoeur apologists tend to reside — have turned on him.

What that means, I think, is that unless that offer of the ham
sandwich — or even the kick to the groin — becomes available, Frank
Wren has the cover to designate baseball’s biggest out machine for
assignment.

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.

David Price was a complete jackass to Dennis Eckersley

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In late June, Red Sox pitcher David Price confronted Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley during a team flight to Toronto. The circumstances of the argument were not clear at the time and at least one report said that it was a “back and forth,” presumably about some critical comments Eckersley made on the air about Price. We learned a few days after that it was less of a “back and forth” than it was Price merely berating Eckersley.

Now, via this story from Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, we get the true flavor of the exchange. It does not reflect well on Price or his teammates:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Assuming this account is accurate, Price’s behavior was nothing short of disgraceful. Disgraceful in that Price was too much of a coward to take his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one. Beyond that, it’s classic bully behavior, with Price waiting until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond.

But it’s mostly just sad. Sad that David Price is so painfully sensitive that he cannot handle criticism from a man who is, without question, one of the best who has ever played the game. One of the few men who has been in his shoes and stood on that same mound and faced the same sorts of challenges Price has attempted to face. And, it should be noted, faced them with more success in his career than Price has so far.

No one likes criticism, but David Price is at a place in his life where he is, inevitably, going to receive it. And unlike virtually every other person who may offer it to him, Dennis Eckersley knows, quite personally, of what he speaks.

Shame on David Price for acting like a child. Shame on his teammates for backing him up. Shame on John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization for not sitting Price down, explaining that he messed up and encouraging him to apologize. And, of course, if he apologizes now, it’s not because he means it. He’s had a month to reflect. It’s simply because his disgraceful behavior is now all over the pages of the Boston Globe.

What a pathetic display.