The year-after-year Jeff Francoeur propaganda — or, as I shall henceforth call it, “Francoeurganda” — has been well-cataloged by now. No matter how poorly he does, someone is going to say that this, by gum, is the year he breaks out. No matter how little he progresses, Francoeur himself is going to say that he’s working on his plate discipline. You can set your watch by this alternate universe jive. And frankly, I’d miss it if we didn’t have it.
But I gotta tell ya, friends, we may have peaked with this stuff. Because I see no way anyone can pull off a nutsier bit of Francoeurganda than what Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer just pulled, explaining away Frecnhy’s brutal spring training, during which he had an 0-for-25 skid:
“From a swing standpoint, when you watch his video, it is clean and it’s good. It’s solid. He was staying inside the ball. He was staying on the ball. It’s just that his timing was all jacked up because he wasn’t ready to get on it when it’s time to get on it. That’s because he was making sure everything is in its place and exactly right.”
Look, I don’t expect Jeff Francoeur’s own hitting coach to simply come out and say “yeah, he’s having problems and may not be all that good at hitting,” but it seems like there is some truth that can be told between, you know, the real truth, and “he isn’t hitting because he’s making sure everything is just so.”
Now, let us all sit back and wait until June when Francoeur is benched and he demands a trade to a place where he can play full time.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.