I’m not sure what could possibly compel a struggling second-rate closer with a 5.14 ERA to talk trash publicly against the Yankees, but Mets right-hander Frank Francisco took the media bait and did just that.
With this weekend’s Subway Series starting at Citi Field tonight, Francisco was asked for his thoughts about facing the Yankees and told Mike Puma of the New York Post:
I can’t wait to face those chickens. I want to strike out the side against them. I’ve done it before.
And then according to Puma he perhaps had a brief moment of self-awareness and said: “I think I’ve said too much already.”
Francisco spent the first seven years of his career in the American League before signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the Mets as a free agent this offseason, so he’s indeed faced “those chickens” plenty before. And he’s pitched pretty damn well too, posting a 3.29 ERA, .229 opponents’ batting average, and 24/10 K/BB ratio in 27 career appearances versus the Yankees.
Puma even looked back at the game logs and found that, sure enough, Francisco struck out the side against the Yankees on May 21, 2004, whiffing Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi in order. So, you know, that totally gives him the upper hand this weekend. Or something.
As you’d expect none of Francisco’s teammates were dumb enough to take the same bait, especially after the Yankees swept the Mets at Yankee Stadium just two weeks ago.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.