There has not been one offseason — literally, not one — since Jeff Francoeur broke into the majors when there hasn’t been a story in which he’s been reported to be working on pitch-recognition, plate patience and jacking up his on-base percentage. Here’s last year’s. Not too long ago someone gathered links to all of them going back to the fall of 2005, but I can’t seem to find them, but believe me, they’re out there. UPDATE: here it is!
I was concerned that we weren’t going to get one this year, but lo and behold, here it is:
Working with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, he’s also trying to be better at selecting pitches to attack and alter his reputation as a free swinger.
“It’s going to cut down on his strikeouts, it’s going to put him in better hitting counts,” Seitzer said.
I can’t think of a single player with a track record like Francoeur’s — a hot month or two at some point in his career, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of mediocre to sub-mediocre at bats — who is nonetheless spoken of as though he was an adjustment or two from becoming a star. He’s no longer expected to be a savior. He is what he is: a guy who can be effective as a platoon player and who can help you on defense from time to time, but who by no means profiles as a middle of the order bat.
Why don’t these stories get written about, say, Austin Kearns or any other guy who flashed some skills at some point but then did a lot of nothin’ for a long time? What is it about Frenchy that leads to these stories every year? It’s baffling, frankly. And you’d think that at some point even Francoeur himself would get tired of them and want to be who and what he is rather than something people wish he was.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.