Shocker: the Royals and Jeff Francoeur are close to a deal

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I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur at the paddock before the second race. I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur outside the men’s room before I placed my bet.  I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur before they got up this morning.

Now Ken Rosenthal reports that it’s close to going down. A one-year deal. Possible option for 2012. There are things that are more inevitable than this was, but they are only measured on a geologic time frame.

And unless it’s crazy money — which I doubt it will be — it’s not going to kill anyone. Jeff Francoeur will not be the difference between the Royals winning and not winning the AL Central in 2011, even if he gets 600 at bats (note: I don’t use plate appearances for Francoeur because including a metric that covers walks is pretty pointless with Jeffy). He’s a decent-defending body in right field, hopefully on a platoon basis, but if he’s not going to be there every day, it’s no biggie. At least not on this team.

He’ll just be there long enough, I presume, for there to be a whole new round of “Jeff Francoeur is focusing on working the count” articles this spring, as there are every spring.  He’ll be there just long enough for people to realize that that one lucky first-pitch homer he hit the first week of the season is not indicative of his talents.  He’ll be there long enough for him to depress Royals fans who want him to be their Great White Hope, and to cause Ned Yost to bench or platoon him.  He’ll be there long enough for either him or his agent to complain in the press about him being an everyday player and wanting a trade because that’s what they do every year.

And then, in July or August, he’ll get traded to the Giants.

Enjoy Kansas City, Jeffy. Lots of good food there.

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.