Stubborn Francoeur has a ways to go

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ashamed francoeur.jpgMatthew Cerrone has a fine interview with sabermetric whipping boy Jeff Francoeur over on Metsblog.com, where you can watch the video or read the text. I’ll just post the first question and response, since it was the one most interesting to me:

Cerrone: Yesterday, you did a chat with MLB.com, and, on it you were asked a question to compare On-Base-Percentage guys to RBI guys, and you said one does one thing, one does the other. But, it seems to me you would want to both. What is the difference there, and what did you mean by that?
Francoeur: Well, I think you obviously want to go both. But, you look at a guy that I played with in Atlanta this year, Garret Anderson, who’s had a heck of a career and his OBP isn’t that great. I think you learn as you go, I’m still 25 and I’m learning different things, learning the strike zone and hopefully I will continue to get better at that; but, at the same time, I’m not going up there thinking to walk, thinking about this or that, if there is a guy on second or third I’m gonna try to drive him in – that’s my first priority. Whether I ground out or fly out or whatever, I want to get him and do my best to help the team. I think as you learn more you’re OBP goes up; but, I think for me, that’s not something I just think about. I know to a lot of statistical people OBP seems to be a huge thing… 15 to 20 years ago it wasn’t a big deal… and all of a sudden it is.

A big part of what’s made Francoeur a favored target of so many is that he seems to think he doesn’t need to improve, or at least, he comes off that way in interviews. Of course, part of the problem there is that he’s gotten an awful lot of publicity for someone with a .271 average and 88 homers in 4 1/2 seasons as a major leaguer.
Another issue is that there really wasn’t any need for him to improve initially. He was treated like a star from the day he came up, and the Braves weren’t worrying about the ugly strikeout-to-walk ratio as long as he produced 100-RBI seasons. Furthermore, he was going to get paid strictly based on his Triple Crown line during his first six years as a major leaguer. OBP hardly matters in arbitration.
In the long run, it might well be for the best that he was such a huge liability in 2008 and the first half of 2009 that the Braves gave up on him. Francoeur is blessed with plenty of talent. He hit 29 homers as a 22-year-old in 2006 and he batted .293 with a decent enough .338 OBP in 2007. But he’s not going to find a lot of demand for his services if he heads into free agency as a .270-20 HR guy with a .310 OBP.
So, reality is catching up to him. In July, Francoeur was traded for an outfielder his original team never really wanted in the first place (and who has already been non-tendered). He had a fine second half for the Mets, yet there’s been no indication that he’s going to get the long-term deal from the Mets that he’d like. If he goes to arbitration, the Mets can portray him as a corner outfielder with middling power, a middling average, a terrible OBP for a corner outfielder and no value on the basepaths.
And Francoeur needs to hear it if he’s going to truly turn his career around.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Barred from playing in their own ballpark this year because of COVID-19, the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays have found a home in the playoffs.

The slumping New York Yankees, meanwhile, look likely to play on the road in the postseason, where they’ve struggled all year.

Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games following a 10-game winning stretch and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

“We’ve got to get it rolling again, obviously, if we’re going to get to where we want to go,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’m confident we can do it.

New York went 21-7 at home this season but was 11-18 on the road. Boone said he’s not concerned about that split even as a potential road playoff series looms next week.

“We’ve got to get ourselves in order and start playing really good baseball if we’re going to give ourselves a chance,” Boone said.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason. The Blue Jays had endured three losing campaigns since their previous playoff trip, going 67-95 last season.

“I’m just so proud of my club and everything we’ve gone through all year,” second-year manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Canada’s federal government refused to allow games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre this season, citing the closed Canada-U.S. border and the travel risk associated with the pandemic. Stuck on the road to start the season, the Blue Jays eventually ended up at their Triple-A ballpark, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, but didn’t gripe about their fate.

“They never complained,” Montoyo said. “They had their mind set on getting to this moment right now.”

Blue Jays players embraced after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it, donning blue T-shirts that said “Respect Toronto.”

“This is something we want to make an every year thing,” infielder Cavan Biggio said. “For us, we’re happy, we’re excited we’re able to put ourselves in this position, but this is only the start of hopefully something special for a long time.”

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo this weekend while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

“I’m concerned with the way we’ve played recently,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Any time you’re not playing your best baseball and the postseason is right around the corner, something needs to be corrected rather quickly.”

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

“It’s good to see him get a really good swing off in a big spot,” Boone said of Sanchez. “Just unfortunately, that short.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto, his eighth.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out, and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

“He’s an ace and he did what an ace does,” Montoyo said.

The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Aaron Judge came on as a pinch-hitter but is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, Boone said.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

SEVEN UP

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh. It had been an MLB-record 88 games since RHP Jacob Waguespack pitched into the seventh at Dodger Stadium last year.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.