Franklin: “They’re supposed to be the best fans in baseball”

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Veteran reliever Ryan Franklin has allowed a whopping seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings so far this season. He has blown four saves in five chances and has surrendered four home runs.

The guy has made mistake after mistake on the mound and has been mercifully stripped of closing duties. But his biggest flub yet came Wednesday inside the Busch Stadium clubhouse.

Franklin told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he was thrown off by the boos he heard on Wednesday after allowing an eighth-inning 417-foot homer to Nationals outfielder Laynce Nix and a subsequent walk to catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

It was supposed to be a low-pressure relief appearance designed to help Franklin rebuild his confidence, but he didn’t look sharp and the fans at Busch decided to make their feelings known.

“I guess they have short memories too because I think I’ve been pretty good here,” Franklin told Rains. “It doesn’t bother me but it just shows some people’s true colors. You’re either a fan or you’re not.”

The quotes only get more heated as Rains’ column goes on:

“You don’t boo your own team. I don’t care who you are or what you say or just because you spent your money to come here to watch us play that somebody happens to make one bad pitch and give up a homer and you are going to start booing him? I’ve been here for five years and four years I’ve been pretty good.”

And here’s the one that Franklin is going to really regret:

“You should go write stories about the fans booing. They are supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah right.”

Will Leitch said it best in his HBT Daily chat with Craig earlier this week. Cardinals fans are nice. They don’t often boo their own players, and when they do it’s usually the result of a series of bad results. Chris Carpenter isn’t going to hear booing after one or two rough starts. Yadier Molina isn’t going to hear boo birds after an 0-for-20 stretch. But poor showing after poor showing is going to yield negative fan reaction, and that’s a fact in every baseball stadium around the country.

Franklin blew a potential Opening Day victory on March 31 against the Padres, two potential wins out in San Francisco last week, and he blew his fourth save of the season on Sunday when he allowed a walkoff home run to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. If the Cardinals came away with even two of those wins, they would lead the National League Central right now.

Nobody likes to be scolded. Nobody likes having their job performance judged. But Franklin is 38 years old and has been doing this baseball thing his entire life. If he can’t accept that paying customers in St. Louis are voicing their dissatisfaction with the way he’s pitched to this point, it may be time for a career change.

I hear bass fishing is nice.

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UPDATE: Matthew Leach of MLB.com passes along a statment from Franklin. He’s apologizing:

“Obviously these last 2 1/2 weeks have been frustrating for me, and I’m frustrated with myself. I can understand why the fans are frustrated. I’ve loved my time here in St. Louis. It’s my favorite place to play. It’s just a frustrating time for me right now, because I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

There’s more. Head over to Leach’s blog for the goods.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.