Francoeur to be given the green light to steal

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Francoeur Mets.jpegMets fans OK with this?

Francoeur says he never learned how to steal bases with the Braves,
explaining that it wasn’t part of Atlanta’s offensive philosophy. But
it is part of Manuel’s plans. So this spring he’s told Francoeur he
wants him to run more, and now the Mets right fielder is trying to
learn how.

Francoeur is 15 for 30 career in stolen bases. He’s right that stealing was never anything he was asked to do in Atlanta, so I suppose it’s possible that he could do it if he works at it a bit.

But isn’t it also possible that, since running was never part of the Braves’ strategy, his opportunities to do so as a Brave came in only the safest situations (e.g. against horrible throwing catchers and in really favorable hitter’s counts)? If so, couldn’t that mean that he’s an even worse base stealer than that not-acceptable 50% success rate suggests? Chipper Jones isn’t any faster than Francoeur and he’s a career 76% base stealer. Andruw Jones is 71%. Marcus Giles 73%. We’re obviously not dealing with tremendously large sample sizes here, but I think don’t think we can say that Francoeur’s 50% caught stealing rate is meaningless simply because the Braves run less than everyone else.

More generally, and not to put too fine a point on it, it strikes me that you’d want to keep the game as simple as possible for Jeff Francoeur. Trying to teach him some plate discipline should be priority number one, but beyond that, let the dude just try to hit it as hard as he can and hope for the best.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball who wrote a book about using the pitch died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney of natural causes, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details.

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 and San Diego in 1978 just after turning 40.

Perry went 24-16 in his debut season with Cleveland after 10 years with the San Francisco Giants. He was 21-6 in his first season with the Padres in 1978 for his fifth and final 20-win season.

“Before I won my second Cy Young I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.