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.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.