Jeff Francoeur is selfish and deluded

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Every year someone pencils Jeff Francoeur in as their starting right fielder. Every year someone — or many someones — writes the “this is the year Francoeur finally lives up to his potential!” story. Every year he comes out and puts up a substandard performance that, if baseball was truly a meritocracy, would render him a platoon player at best.

And of course, every year when someone like me points this out, the response comes back that Francoeur is a team player who’s great in the clubhouse and everyone should just leave him alone.

But you know what? He’s not a team player. He’s not great in the clubhouse. I know this because someone who is a team player and great clubhouse guy would not have his agent campaigning in the media about how her client needs to start or be traded:

Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur has told the club through his
representatives that he is interested in being traded to a team that
would play him more, both sides confirmed yesterday.

“We want to
play every day,” Francoeur’s agent Molly Fletcher said yesterday. “We
prefer to play in New York. But if we’re not going to play every day in
New York, we absolutely welcome the opportunity to play every day
somewhere else . . . Talk to me is just that: It’s talk. What matters is
what happens and is he in right field every day. And that’s what we’re
watching.”

Media campaigns designed to undermine team decision making are nothing new for Francoeur. In 2008 the Braves sent him down to the minors to try and figure out why he, you know, can’t hit. The stint was supposed to last weeks. As soon as he went down, however, stories began to appear in the Atlanta papers about how unhappy he was and his trip to the minors ended up lasting three games.

If any other player acted like this he’d be called out as a prima donna. Not Francoeur!  No, he gets damn nigh delusional profiles written about him in national publications about how sad it is that he’s not getting more playing time. And you should really read that link, by the way. It suggests that David Wright and Carlos Beltran would be benched if only there were people who could take their place, but Francoeur — who, sadly, doesn’t have a media horde following him as he approaches his 100th career home run! — deserves to be playing because he’s “the team’s hottest hitter.” With that designation being based on five games. Never mind that just before that stretch he was 0 for his previous 15. And you won’t be surprised to find his agent being quoted in that piece as well.

The selfish P.R. onslaught comes as the Mets are sinking in the standings and their team offensive numbers have plummeted to Cubs/Nats level. If any other player pulled this garbage they’d be excoriated in the press and on talk radio, but I can bet you good money that won’t happen to Francoeur. His alleged misuse will still be cited by those seeking Jerry Manuel’s head (never mind that trying to bench Francoeur is one of the few smart things he’s done this year). He’ll still have his supporters calling in to WFAN arguing that he just needs to be given a chance, notwithstanding the fact that he’s had 3300+ plate appearances which conclusively prove that he is, regrettably, what he is.

And what he is, at best, is a fourth outfielder. A platoon guy. A player who has no business starting for a team with pretensions of contention, and may not even be worthy of a starting slot on a rebuilder. His agent wants him to go someplace where he’ll play everyday? Tell me which team would be wise to hand him their starting job. Because, really, I can’t see one who should.

And that’s especially true if he continues to make the story all about him and his own interests as opposed to what’s best for his team.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.