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Jeff Francoeur to become the Braves main TV analyst

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there are big changes coming to Braves broadcasts. Joe Simpson is going to be (mostly) out as the TV analyst and will be shifted to radio. In the TV booth next to Chip Caray for most games: Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur has gotten a decent amount of time on Braves broadcasts in the past couple of years, with Tom Glavine getting some reps as well. From what I’ve heard of him he’s fine. Not transcendently insightful, but a pleasant enough second voice who can handle the job. Really, though, this should be seen as a rebuke of Joe Simpson, who has been in the Braves TV booth for over 25 years and who was recently inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame.

Simpson has made some unwelcome headlines in the past few years for some comments that raised eyebrows. This past season he implied that Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was lying about his age. He also, strangely, criticized Chase Utley for taking batting practice in a t-shirt, calling it unprofessional. Beyond that, there is a general sense that Simpson is increasingly out of touch with today’s game, seeing it through the eyes of an old timer, even if he’s not particularly old. For what it’s worth, he was much the same way in the early 90s when he was younger than I am now, but that’s probably another conversation.

Either way, Simpson doesn’t seem too happy about it. From the AJC:

Simpson said he was “surprised” by the extent of the change.

“I had proposed cutting back, but my proposal was a lot different than theirs,” Simpson said. “I was suggesting maybe cutting back to like 120 TV games, hoping to fill in the rest with some radio. But they’ve cut me back to 20 or 30 TV games with the rest being radio, so that came as a surprise.”

The move was reportedly a joint one, decided on by Fox Sports South in conjunction with the Braves.

So get used to a lot more Francoeur. Who, if his historical form holds, will start the season off with three or four months of the best analysis you’ve ever seen, after which he will be generally average for the next decade yet people will still think of him as a star. Can’t wait.

 

 

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.