Jeff Francoeur: minor league pitcher

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HBT favorite Jeff Francoeur was released by the Indians in spring training and was picked up on a minor league deal by the Padres. He’s been playing at El Paso all season and he’s hitting a Francoeurian .277 with a low OBP and some decent pop. It’s what he’s always done, really, and given that his parent club has a pretty lackluster offense, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was patrolling right field in San Diego sometime this season.

But for now, he’s making the most of it. And part of making the most of it is as El Paso’s mopup man. He’s pitched five and a third innings over six appearances, allowing four hits and three earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts. Not great, but not nothing. He is said to have a fastball in the low 90s and a serviceable slider.

That all comes in this excellent New York Times story by Tyler Kepner, who features both Francoeur and former major leaguer Jason Lane. Himself an outfielder at one time but now a full-time pitcher and frequent pinch hitter. The angle on the story is how Francoeur is pitching for fun and Lane is pitching for his career. Or at least to prolong it. There are some good observations in there too about how, in this day of 13-man pitching staffs and very thin major league benches, a swingman like Lane or possibly even Francoeur could become less of a novelty and might actually serve a useful purpose on a big league club.

Great story. Check it out.

Ian Kinsler signs a two-year deal with the Padres

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Ken Rosenthal reports that Ian Kinsler is signing with the San Diego Padres on a two-year, $8 million deal.

A surprising multi-year deal for Kinsler, who will turn 37 next season, but it’s a pretty low financial outlay for the Padres. An understandably low one following a year in which Kinsler hit just .240/.301/.380 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases for the Angels and Red Sox. He can still pick it at the keystone, however, taking home Gold Glove honors there last season. He’ll turn 37 next June.

Kinsler will likely bump Luis Urias from second to short until top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. is called up to San Diego, at which point one presumes Urias will then, in turn, bump Kinsler off of second base into a bench role, at least if Urias performs. Given that Kinsler will not make much money on this deal, it’s not something the Padres are likely to sweat.