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
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)
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.