Frank Francisco won’t be handed the Mets’ closer job

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A month ago Sandy Alderson declined to say he was “confident” in Frank Francisco again being the Mets’ closer and yesterday the general manager took that one step further by basically saying he’ll have to re-win the job in spring training.

Francisco had a 5.53 ERA before being shut down with an elbow injury that eventually required minor surgery, so Alderson rightly told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York: “Health is an issue. Performance is an issue.”

Francisco is under contract for $6.5 million and the Mets stuck with him as closer through some brutal stretches last year, but now they’re set to add Brandon Lyon to the late-inning bullpen mix along with holdover Bobby Parnell.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?