I just went over to Charlie Manuel’s press availability because — let there be no mistake about this — Charlie Manuel is awesome. If I could take a road trip with any guy in baseball it would be him. Well, maybe Ozzie Guillen if I wasn’t all hung up on coming back alive, but Cholly would be way up there.
Important for our purposes is that one of the first questions asked of Manuel was what he thought of Jeff Francoeur, in whom the Phillies are apparently interested. The answer: “I’ve always liked Francoeur.” He then made a comparison between Frenchie and Jayson Werth when he first joined the Phillies, referring to how each of them hadn’t yet lived up to their potential. he talked about how Francoeur “hadn’t had success for a couple of years,” and that he was sure he was due to come back. It was unclear where Francoeur was supposed to come back to, because objectively speaking he’s always been gone, but everyone loves Charlie Manuel and no one pressed the issue.
When asked if he thought he could help Francoeur — the big talking point among Philly fans this week being whether Manuel could “fix” him — Manuel said that he saw “mechanical flaws” in Francoeur’s game. I just checked my Cholly-to-English dictionary and it seems that “mechanical flaws” translates roughly to “a complete and utter inability to play the game and an utter hostility to instruction or suggestion designed to make oneself better.” But like I said: roughly.
Manuel then went on to talk about how Jimmy Rollins needs to be Jimmy Rollins or some such thing, but really, my work was done by then.
Sign him, Ruben. You know you want to.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.