Several times in the past few weeks Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has avoided saying that Frank Francisco has the closer job locked down following a rough 2012, but manger Terry Collins said just that yesterday.
“He is the closer,” Collins said, via Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “We saw last year when he is right, he is good. I think he looks good. He is in the right frame of mind.”
Last year Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA in 42 innings, allowing opponents to hit .269 with a .791 OPS while walking 4.5 batters per nine innings, so “we saw last year when he is right, he is good” is some pretty strong manager-speak.
Francisco also underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow in December, but declared himself ready to go yesterday and made it clear that he’s confident in retaining ninth-inning duties. Of course, a better question might be how long Collins is willing to stick with Francisco should he struggle again, because with a $6.5 million salary giving him another chance as closer certainly isn’t shocking.
Baseball is a young man’s game. Whereas, a few short years ago, teams went into battle with a lot of guys with ten or twelve years of experience under their belt, these days such veterans are a dying breed. Whether you chalk it up to teams favoring youth because youth is less expensive, the game simply favoring younger, more athletic players, the decline in PED use among ballplayers or some combination of all three, the fact is that it’s better to be 23 in Major League Baseball these days than 33.
Turner is 33 — he turns 34 in November — yet he remains at or near the top of his game. It’s been a shorter season than usual for him due to an injury that cost him all of April and part of May, but his production when healthy remains at a near-MVP level. He’s hitting .318/.413/.525 on the year, and his return coincided with the Dodgers shaking off their early-season doldrums. Now, with his help, they are on the verge of yet another NL West title.
Not only that, but he’s doing that while holding down a second job!