Craig Calcaterra

Jeff Francoeur Padres

Jeff Francoeur is working with Charlie Manuel in Phillies camp. Good luck, Charlie.

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From Clearwater, news that Charlie Manuel is working with Jeff Francoeur. What are they working on?

The Phillies coaching staff wants Francoeur to cut down on his swing. Manuel told him that he looked as if he “wanted to hit the ball so bad” that he would often get himself in trouble by swinging at a bad pitch.

“That’s where that football mentality sometimes can hurt me,” said Francoeur, who was a high school football star. “Being able to tone that down starts in the cage. If you’re swinging 80, 85 percent in the cage, that keeps carrying over. When you get to the game, it will take over and go.”

This is now year 11, I think, of Francoeur talking about cutting down on his swing and being more selective. He always talks about it as if it’s just a matter of a slight mental adjustment, but it has never, ever taken. He could have 30 or 40 more spring trainings and give 30 or 40 more interviews about how he’s going to change his approach and it will make no difference. He is what he is. You could sooner expect water to cease being wet than you can expect Frenchy to stop swinging himself out of his sneakers if a ball is within a mile of the strike zone.

Which, on some messed up level, is kind of beautiful. It’s a testament to perseverance and focus. Of a sort. To thine own self be true, Jeff.

Ike Davis is still mad at the Mets for saying that he partied too hard

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Back in 2012 an unnamed Mets official told Adam Rubin that the team was concerned with Ike Davis being out too late after games and not taking instruction. Davis was mad about this at the time, saying that he had never had an issue with staying out late, never missed a game or a workout and that such claims were unfair and didn’t make sense.

He’s still not happy about it, telling Andy Martino that it still leaves a “dirty taste” in his mouth:

“That’s really the only thing that I still have a dirty taste in my mouth about. Because everything else, you could see it in numbers. What, am I going to argue? I didn’t play well. But as far as calling me out for drinking problems, and being a bad influence — that was a joke. It’s ridiculous. But you can use it as a learning experience: You can’t trust people.”

He says the perception followed him to Pittsburgh where Clint Hurdle asked him about it and told him that the Pirates were concerned. His new manager, Bob Melvin, says he has no concerns, however, so it appears that whatever effects that Mets’ official’s comments had have faded away.

Max Scherzer has added a cutter to his arsenal

Max Scherzer
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That’s not a huge deal — pitchers talk about adding pitches pretty often — but it’s the key Tyler Kepner uses to unlock the door into Max Scherzer’s world in his excellent New York Times article about the Nationals’ new ace.

In it he talks about Scherzer’s lack of complacency despite getting a giant new contract, noting that agent Scott Boras was surprised to learn that, after getting his last big contract as a pro, Scherzer immediately set out to get better. Which is not something every guy who cashes in big does. Scherzer is compared to Greg Maddux in that way and Scherzer cites Maddux as a particular role model. Kepner notes that, when Maddux was Scherzer’s age it was 1996 and Maddux proceeded to unleash seven amazing seasons.

You’re not going to get rich in life betting that someone is going to be Greg Maddux all over again, but you have to admire him.

The Phillies slowly enter the era of analytics

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David Murphy of the Daily News has a story today about the Phillies’ belated entry into the world of analytics.

The Phillies are probably the last team to jump into those waters, but they aren’t just jumping into them. They added an analytics guy a couple of years ago and now, finally, have launched a database system like most other teams have. They’re also, based on the quotes in the article anyway, aware of where they are in this regard. Aware that they have more work to do to catch up. So that’s something.

One thing that does bug me is Pat Gillick’s reference to the Giants’ success as success by a team that isn’t really into analytics. As we’ve noted in the past, that has long been said but it has not been true for a long, long time. It may be the most oft-cited bit of misinformation about team analytics out there. Really, the Giants should be lauded for being astonishingly successful at integrating scouting and analytics seamlessly, not for being successful despite not being into analytics. Because that latter assertion is simply erroneous.

In any event, it’s a good “state of the Phillies” article for you.

Giancarlo Stanton has a new helmet. It’s pretty cool.

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Giancarlo Stanton’s season ended with a horrific beaning which broke several bones in his face. With the Marlins making a gigantic investment in him this past offseason, his safety and comfort in the batter’s box is pretty important, so it’s not at all surprising that he got a new helmet.

And it’s pretty cool. Go here to see pictures of it. Unlike a lot of helmets with face guards, his guard is not solid but, rather, made from a carbon steel frame like a football face mask. And no, not like Dave Parker’s football face mask.

And while the Marlins are often called cheap, Jeff Loria does understand the value of his investment here. The helmet costs between $500 and $1,000 and he flew Stanton up for a final fitting of the helmet earlier this week on his private jet.