I call him “Mr. Fancoeur” because it just sounded so fun in that Wall Street Journal article I linked to this morning. I know that WSJ and the New York Times use “Mr.” and “Ms.” as a convention, but the convention really doesn’t work in sports articles. Did they do this when pro wrestling was pushing mainstream in the mid 80s? “Mr. Beefcake?” Would it have been “Mr. Albano” or would they have gone with the more formal title for “Captain” Lou? I digress.
The point to this post is to link to Howard Megdal’s analysis of Jeff Francoeur’s chances of being traded, as he has so demanded. Howard’s piece provides a wonderful walk down bad-to-mediocre corner outfielder memory lane, and concludes by noting that, if history is any guide, ain’t no one gonna trade nothing for no Jeff Francoeur.
But let’s be clear about something: I don’t fault Jeff Francoeur for asking to be traded. On some level all athletes should feel like they’re awesome and should be playing all the time. The second they stop feeling that way, at least a little bit, is the second they lose their competitive edge. Good for Mr. Francoeur for not losing confidence in himself.
No, my issue is this whole media campaign and his agents demands of the Mets that her client be given playing time. That’s just loopy. Keep that stuff quiet.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.