As Matt had mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Mets had traded Jeff Francoeur for infielder Joaquin Arias just before the trade deadline. Matt did a great job of profiling Arias and what the Mets can expect from him this season and beyond.
But I wanted to take one last moment to recount Francoeur’s contributions to the Mets (and lack thereof). The writing was on the wall for Francoeur since the Mets would have non-tendered him at the end of the season. So that there were able to get more from Francoeur than a bag of balls is a plus. It was a good move for the Mets and is probably a good move for Francoeur in the long run.
Francoeur came to the Mets from the Braves in exchange for Ryan Church. The deal seemed a wash but it allowed Church the opportunity to get out from underneath Jerry Manuel‘s constant bashing. Francoeur, personality-wise, is probably the antithesis of Church. Where Church has a personality that might be a little bristling, Francoeur is affable and by all teammate’s accounts “a good clubhouse” guy. The move from hometown Atlanta seemed good for him as he surprisingly thrived initially. Last year. Francoeur hit .311 for the Mets in 401 ABs and hit ten home runs. He genuinely seemed to like playing for the Mets, liked his teammates and had a desire to continue to play for the organization.
But this season, the magic wore off. Whatever gold plating Francoeur was wearing in 2009, tarnished as he leaves the team with a slash line of .237/.293/.369. These are wasted numbers. But how could anyone expect Francoeur to ever sustain a solid average with his propensity for first pitch swinging? Consider this…the MLB average for first pitch swinging this season is 27%. Francoeur swung at first pitches 48% of the time. From the beginning of the plate appearance, he has back himself into a corner and given the pitcher the advantage. His batting average after an 0-1 count was .168.
To his credit, Francoeur improved upon his walk percentage this season, walking 6.5% of the time. This was a significant leap for him above his 4.9% career number. But again, compared to the rest of baseball, it was 2% lower than the average. Where the Mets need to focus on players who can work the count and get on base with some regularity, Francoeur’s approach went against that grain.
With no future with the Mets, Francoeur gets the opportunity to play for the Rangers who will more than likely win their division. He joins a crowded outfield with players like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Vladimir Guerrero and Julio Borbon. His playing time will probably be limited to defensive switches, resting primary players and pinch hitting. Is this an improvement for him? Only in the sense that he goes to a winning team headed to the playoffs. He will more than likely find himself with a different team come 2011.
So with that, the Mets bid adieu and au revoir to Frenchy. With the bat, Francoeur was able to do little batting just .191 over the past 60 games spanning 183 ABs. The Mets don’t lose anything other than a good guy him improves team chemistry and that shouldn’t be completely overlooked. Unfortunately, divisions are not won on who has the nicest guys and who buys the most rounds of beer at the local bar. If that were the case, the Mets would be very much in contention and Francoeur would have been the MVP.