Being a General Manager is never easy. All decisions one makes is subject to second-guessing and ridicule. I can live with that. However, I will admit that I was taken aback by the reaction to my comments backing Jeff Francoeur and describing him as a veteran winner.
I thought Royals fans had a reputation of being savvy and stat-minded. If that is true, why can't you guys see what is so obvious? I can't believe I have to do this, but here is a defense of Mr. Win, Jeffrey Braden Francoeur.
1. The 2010 Texas Rangers. This is a team that is believed by many experts to be the best team ever to not win the World Series. And who was the crucial late-season acquisition that came in to hit .340 and spur them on to reach the playoffs? That's right, Mr. Win himself. That kind of winning experience is hard to put a value on. It is our luck and the Rangers misfortune that they weren't able to hang on to him after that year.
2. Alex Gordon. Is it a coincidence that the year Jeff arrives is the year that Alex puts it together? I think not, and I think you should think not. The veteran, winning leadership that Jeff provided Alex was perhaps the critical factor that led to Gordo's improvement. I shudder to think where Alex would be today were it not for Jeff. It's unfortunate that both Jeff and Alex couldn't win a Gold Glove.
3. Salvador Perez. Again, I ask, is it a coincidence that the year Jeff arrives is the year that the Royals find a promising young catcher? I'll admit, I was devastated by Jason Kendall's injury and retirement, but I should have known that Jeff would lead us into finding an adequate replacement. Jeff has a unique ability to mentor young players and bring out the best of their abilities. For example, Jeff has offered valuable advice to Perez on how to throw out runners attempting to steal.
4. Alcides Escobar. For years and years the Royals have struggled to find a long-term answer to shortstop. Jeff arrives and then Escy comes in. You do the math. Alcides is lucky to have another defensive wizard as a teammate in Jeff.
5. Billy Butler. Yes, he has been a decent hitter for a while, but I have long wondered what it would take for Billy to learn how to hit in the clutch. Well, do you know what it took? That's right, the proven leadership of Mr. Francoeur. You can paint a direct correlation between Jeff's seasons with Billy to Billy finally learning how to get his 100 RBIs.
6. Ned Yost. We have been treated to a display of managerial brilliance these last couple of years, but managers can't do it on their own. Managers love having veteran winners on board like Jeff. Knowing that there is a player who will steal a base when asked, put down a bunt when asked, or even move his positioning back in the outfield when asked is such a joy to manage. Players like Francoeur allow managers like Yost to be the best that they can be.
I could list many more examples if you wanted me to, but it should be obvious to you by now. Could Wil Myers bring out the best in his teammates like Jeff can? No, I don't think so, and I would not want to devastate the clubhouse like that. With Jeff on board the sky is the limit for our other young, talented players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Chris Getz.
I do grant you that last year Jeff's batting average and RBIs were just a little below where would have liked, but knowing Jeff like I do, I know he will rebound with the typical Frenchy year next year.