Francoeur returns to form

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That’s the headline of this later-than-usual “Jeff Francoeur has figured it all out and is kicking butt and taking names” story from Stan McNeal at the Sporting News.  I mean, we’ve come to expect them when Francoeur gets off to his usual fast start following a chance of scenery, but late May is certainly an outlier in terms of the calendar.

That’s especially true considering this one spends the first several paragraphs with “best shape of his life” stuff. Makes me wonder if this wasn’t written in early April and inadvertently posted just now.  I dunno, maybe it got caught up in the editing process someplace.

But hey, I always love these, so why not:

He ran every day, two miles and then sprints. Lots of sprints, all by himself, outside the front door of his home in Atlanta. Eighty-yarders, shuttle-runs, gassers. That combined with healthier eating melted off the pounds. Francoeur had reached 237 by the end of last season. By February, he says he was 210. He is playing between 208-210, and the bounce in his step is hard not to notice …

… Besides his improved fitness, Francoeur has refined his approach at the plate under the coaching of Kevin Seitzer. Instead of trying to pull home runs, Francoeur is using right and right-center fields, too. He still has roughly three times as many strikeouts as walks, but he isn’t the free-swinger who went 33 games without walking at the start of his career.

Francoeur had a great April, there’s no denying that.  But in May he is hitting .247/.316/.435.  For his career he is hitting .269/.311/.430.  You tell me whether his great April performance or his May performance is more likely to be replicated as the season wears on. Thing is, he has “returned to form.”  Just not in the way McNeal means in the story.

And someone please tell me why Francoeur gets treated differently than every other ~.750 OPS player with some pop, a big swing and a decent platoon split in baseball history.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.