Dayton Moore is the most reliable joke in baseball.
It took longer than we expected. It didn't happen in 2008 or 2009. It didn't happen during the 2010 season, despite strong indications that it was finally time then. It happened today, in December. The Royals have signed Jeff Francoeur. According to Bob Dutton, the signing will be announced later today. The deal is believed to be for one or two seasons.
Look, Dayton Moore makes bad moves. His understanding of the game is outmoded when it comes to building a Major League roster, especially when you factor in the budget. He's busily fighting the Spanish-American War in the jungles of Vietnam. Nevertheless, when you just examine what Jeff Francoeur is it still doesn't add up.
I understand that Moore is going to overlook or ignore the fact that Francoeur is an out machine. That's a given. (Nevermind that OBP is the single most important offensive stat and he'll absolutely kill the lineup.) Sure, we can all get that. Getting on base is widely understood now, in the heady days of 2006, to be important. But Moore doesn't live in that world. However, all of that being said, the amazing thing is that Francoeur still isn't good!
This is the Bloomquist situation all over again. It would be one thing if Francoeur had superficially inflated batting averages. He doesn't. In 3443 career plate appearances his career batting average is .268. Overall, his BA/OBP/SLG line is an-even-smaller-than-you'd-expect .268/.310/.425. Generally, when you project a player's immediate future, you look at the last three years as being the most relevant. In the last three seasons, in 1783 PAs, Francoeur has hit .256/.301/.389.
Those are appalling numbers. Appalling. Francoeur's horrible approach at the plate doesn't just erode his ability to walk, it hurts his ability to... you know, hit the ball hard. In the last three seasons, Francoeur has been worse than Mark Teahen's career numbers, worse than Scotty Pods, and worse than Jose Guillen's Royal Era performance. Guillen "hit" .256/.308/.420 as a Royal. Compared to Francoeur, Mark Teahen is a team defining quality utility man ala Mark McLemore. Compared to Francoeur, Scott Podsednik is an on-base machine in the mold of Rickey Henderson. Compared to Francoeur... Jose Guillen is slightly more attractive at the plate.
And yes, he's basically competent in the field. However, his days of being a true asset are long gone. Remember, this is a Dayton Moore signing, so it's not like he's still young. There's little reason to believe that his glove will be good enough to make up for his hollow piano-legged bat. At best, he's just going to be a more expensive version (overall production-wise) of someone like Blanco or Mitch Maier.
Like a baby or a beautiful woman, Dayton reduces us all to cliche. His rote predictability, years encrusted now, has done the same to us. The Royals signing or trading for Jeff Francoeur has been a joke for over three years now. Francoeur's the perfect Moore target: former Brave, former scouts darling, hacktastic out machine with some RBI myth/mojo from years back, supposedly a great clubhouse guy (which is why he's on his third team I guess), older, getting more expensive. He's the whole package. For Moore, Francoeur still roams the outfields of 2005. On some hot summer night in the South, Francoeur's still ripping the cover off the ball.
On the field, the signing perhaps doesn't mean much. Francoeur is going to play for bad Royals teams and he's going to be bad. He's probably worse than the internal options, but the Royals didn't believe those options were worthwhile anyway. He's going to be overpaid. However, Francoeur is supposedly being brought in largely for his off-the-field contributions. The Royals are right. That will be his largest legacy. He's further, maybe final, proof, that our General Manager doesn't know what he's doing.