What to watch tonight: Frenchy takes on New York

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With an unusually light schedule this afternoon, here’s what to watch tonight:

– At Citi Field, all eyes will be on No. 7, err, No. 12 as Jeff
Francoeur makes his unlikely debut as a New York Met against Johnny
Cueto and the Reds. The Mets have been shut out in three of their last
five games and haven’t homered in 66 innings dating back to last
Thursday. Omar Minaya hopes the Frenchy trade can “shake things up.”
We’ll see about that one.

– John Smoltz (0-2, 6.60 ERA) is still in search of his first win,
as the Red Sox take on the Royals. He looks to avoid a new-found
penchant for the big inning, including a four-run fourth against the
Athletics on Monday. Still, the 42-year-old Smoltz feels like he’s
“almost there.”

– Matt Kemp looks to continue to his hot-hitting against the
Brewers. He is 15-for-27 with a home run and nine RBI since Manny
Ramirez returned to the lineup. All this despite often hitting eighth in Joe Torre’s lineup.

– Cole Hamels (5-5, 4.70 ERA) toes the rubber against the Pirates
tonight. The Phillies, who started the season 13-22 at home, have won
seven of their last eight at Citizens Bank Park. With Pedro Martinez
and some guy from Canada on their radar, the Phillies seem poised to
run away and hide in the NL East.

– Jason Marquis (11-5, 3.60 ERA) sets his sights on becoming the
majors first 12-game winner against the Braves on Saturday night.
Because, as we all know, wins = awesome pitcher.

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.