Frank Francisco will accept Rangers’ offer of arbitration

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From T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com comes word that Rangers reliever Frank Francisco has decided that he will accept the club’s offer of salary arbitration.

Francisco could have tested the open market in search of a multi-year contract, but he was labeled as a Type A free agent this fall and that probably scared off potential suitors because the team that signed him would have been required to surrender a first round draft pick.

The Rangers have not fully decided whether they are going to move Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation heading into next season.  That all depends on whether they’re able to re-sign left-hander Cliff Lee.

If Feliz remains a ninth-inning guy, Francisco will stick to setup.  He posted a 2.84 ERA and held opponents to a .220 batting average between mid-April and the end of August this season in that role.

Francisco earned $3.265 million in 2010 and will get a decent raise through the arbitration process.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉