Rarely is the question asked: is our Jeff Francoeur learning?

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Less than a year ago, Jeff Francoeur famously said “If on-base percentage is so important, then why don’t they put it up on the scoreboard?”  Never mind that OBP had long been on the scoreboard in Atlanta.

As evidenced by that quote, my problem with Jeff Francoeur wasn’t so much that he never seemed to be able to take a walk. It was that he was ignorantly defensive about the very notion of taking one.  He never wanted to learn plate patience, and the one time the Braves took a hard stand on the matter — sending Frenchie to the minors to work on it — he pouted to the media about it and was called up three days later.

But then I open up my virtual copy of the New York Post this morning and see this:

“One of my big goals is to have better pitch recognition,” said
Francoeur, who hit .311 as a Met. “Sometimes you try to say it doesn’t
bother you to swing at a bad pitch, but it does. I’m human. I want to
get better because I know if I can get better at that the rest of my
game will follow. If I can mix in 50-60 walks, I become a totally
different guy.”

I really, really want that to be a genuine goal for Francoeur. Because despite the fact that he plays for the Mets and despite the fact that he drove me crazy for most of five seasons as a Brave, he could be an absolutely electrifying player if he was somehow able to show even a moderate amount of selectivity at the plate.

(thanks to Steve Nolan for the heads up)

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.