I can’t remember the last time I wanted a guy to make a team as much as I want Jeff Francoeur to make the Phillies next year. He’ll get his chance as he and seven others, including Xavier Paul, Russ Canzler and Brian Bogusevic, signed minor league deals with spring invites today.
Really, Francoeur on the Phillies is basically the trolling singularity for guys like me. I would probably watch every single Phillies game he started next season if he made it. I’d even consider a Phillies shirsey with his name on the back.
But, beyond that, I’m not mocking the deal here. It’s only a minor league thing. And a team that is rebuilding should be in the business of getting veteran placeholders who cost virtually nothing to keep spots warm until there is a plausible prospect to be used in his place. A mockable move would be to sign some 30something scrub to a multi-year deal to fill that spot. This is actually just good sense by Ruben Amaro. Stockpile veterans who are basically free and do your best to get through the season.
Still, I am totally on team Francoeur here. And I am dead serious about buying that shirsey if he makes the team. You guys remind me of this next April, OK?
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.