Jeff Francoeur wants to play every day

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Because they can’t help themselves, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Jeff Francoeur yesterday.  Mostly chitchat, but this question about Francoeur’s hopes and dreams for next season stood out:

Q. A part-time role isn’t what you’re after, is it?

A. No, I want to play every day, and the Rangers know that. That’s why I said they’ll have decisions to make. If not, hopefully I’ll go somewhere else. I definitely want to go back, but that stuff will play itself out in the next couple months.

Look, I know everyone wants to play every day, but Francoeur has to appreciate that there are very, very few teams that want to do that with him given his limitations, to put it mildly, against righties. And, no, I will not accept a response that says “hey, he’s just being competitive: there’s nothing wrong with that!”  Why? Because he’s going to be a free agent as soon as the Rangers non-tender him, and any team who may be interested in him in a platoon or backup role is going to be scared away if they think he’s going to sulk if he’s not a full-timer.  Which he will, because he’s done it before.

If Jeff Francoeur truly wants to play every day, here’s what he needs to do: shut up about wanting to play every day, make noises about being flexible, about being a team player and about wanting to go wherever he can contribute. That way he doesn’t scare off the 25-28 teams in major league baseball that are smart enough not to name him their everyday right fielder.  Then, once he’s under contract, Francoeur can work his tail off to improve and impress — rather than just tell the AJC that he’s going to, like he does every spring — and make his new team think twice about him being merely a role player.  And of course, to be prepared to take over full time in the event of an injury or something.

Jeff Francoeur has been given starting jobs for no good reason for many years now, and has failed to deliver. If he had delivered, sure, maybe voicing his desire to be a starter would be justified. But that hasn’t happened, and because of it he cannot afford to be seen making demands like this in the media.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.