A lot can be said about the signing of Jeff Francoeur, but I feel like it's good to address some points i've seen seeing around the internets about this deal. So here goes and hang on.
What's the big deal? Jeff Francoeur isn't blocking anybody and it's for one year!
The deal is gonna be for two years.
No it isn't, one year, and an option
This isn't like Sauron's ring where Frodo Moore had to acquire Jeff Francoeur to get rid of him forever. Dayton Moore dumping Francoeur early is like peanut butter and jelly divorcing. The option gets activated, 98% odds of that occurring.
Jeff Francoeur has been traded at the deadline twice in the last two years, both times for non-prospects. Once for Ryan Church. Once for current Royal Joaquin Arias. To support this deal based on the assumption that he will be traded in July 2011 is foolish. Francoeur may be traded in July 2012. But he'd be traveling with a suitcase full of money to cover his salary. Considering Dayton Moore's history of unrealistic expectations for what to get for a player, before settling for anything he can get, Francoeur is not gonna leave this team in 2011 because paying Francoeur $4M in 2012 is not viewed as being so bad.
The teams that scouted Francoeur in 2009 and 2010 and declined to acquire are not going to 180 on their opinion of him and offer useful prospects for Francoeur in 2011, no matter how good he starts off. Because a good 4 months in 2011 will not cancel out 5 years of history when it comes to his hitting.
But Scott Podsednik got us Lucas May and Rick Ankiel got us Tim Collins!
Scott Podsednik's reputation made him a likely guy to get traded for something useful. Scott Podsednik would have been on the streets within 2 years if he hit as badly as Frenchy has over the last 3 years.
Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth got us a prospect and two projects. Kyle Farnsworth was more valuable in that deal due to his surprisingly competent year and the value of relievers. Rick Ankiel on his own would have never gotten us a prospect. But we could have gotten a player like Ryan Church. Not to mention that Rick Ankiel was more of a power threat than Jeff Francoeur and just as good a player overall.
Jeff Francoeur hit 29 HRs in 2006, he'll be the best power bat on this team
Mike Jacobs hit a lot of home runs in 2008 and now he lives by the interstate with a "Will Work For" sign. Jeff Francoeur hit 29 home runs in 2006 and put up an OPS+ of 87. He bulked up after that year, became a better hitter. But his HR numbers dropped and it probably broke his mind. In 2483 PA since his 29 HR season, Francoeur has 58 HR. Jeff Francoeur would be criminally misused as a cleanup/middle of the order hitter on this team.
But Jeff Francoeur isn't blocking anybody!
David Lough won't be ML ready by 2012? Lough spent 2010 in Omaha, essentially as a utility outfielder (splitting time between left and center field). He put up a .346 OBP in Omaha and he looks pretty darn ready right now. And now he'll repeat Omaha. It's Jacobs and Kila all over again. Deeper digging can find more interesting promotions/non-promotions in the Greatest Minor League Sysstem Ever. But Lough should have been given a real shot to make the 2011 Royals and now he won't get that shot.
Alex Gordon is blocking him, Alex Gordon isn't as good as Jeff Francoeur! He's a bussssssttttt!
Alex Gordon's career OPS+ is better than Francoeur's 2007-2010 OPS+ (and that timespan includes Francoeur's best season). Gordon hits more HRs per 162 than Francoeur. The only things Francoeur does more often than Gordon are hit singles and make outs. Francoeur's hitting fits the 2010 Royals hitting template. How well did that work out again? Jeff Francoeur has been given all the chances in the world by his organizations, and Alex Gordon hasn't reached that point yet.
But Francoeur is a good clubhouse guy!
You don't get wins for patting your teammates on the butt, smiling, and highfives. It's good that Francoeur won't harm the team by being angry. But he will harm the team by playing 150 times a year. I'm sure we'll enjoy a reprise of the idea that wanting to play every day means that you're a good guy. Remember Jason Kendall? A lot of people would do unspeakable acts for $3 million a year, why should we hail baseball players wanting to play everyday as noble heroes? Especially when they all will say they want to play every day.
Francoeur just needs to get into a groove and he'll be fine
Francoeur only missed 12 games from 2006 to 2009 and put up a 268/309/420 line. The only way he could have played more baseball from 2006 to 2009 is if the schedule was extended. It's not like he just became bad at baseball because the Mets didn't play him often enough in 2010. He's bad at baseball because he can't hit right-handed pitchers and a lot of the reason why his Rangers stats are so great are because he had 3/8ths of his PAs come against left-handed pitching (it's not an Arlington thing either, 2/3rds of his PAs were on the road).
Jeff Francoeur would be good as a featured player who only shows up to hit lefties but isn't given time against righties. But this organization doesn't believe in platooning bad players, it believes in overexposing them until you're sick of them playing every day. The Royals philosophy on playing guys is like if a radio station took an average song and played it every hour.
Francoeur will play 150 games in 2011 unless he gets hurt or joins the Heavens Gate cult. I could say he would get benched if he completely blows but I can't imagine a manager who was told to bat Jason Kendall 2nd and agreed will bench Frenchy if he's hitting badly. Frenchy might be batting in Yuni territory if he's cold, but he's not gonna get benched. After all, he has ants in his pants.
Kevin Seitzer will make him better!
I'm not sure Francoeur can become better at chugging milk and hitting groundballs to the opposite field. Kevin Seitzer's coaching prowess is ridiculously overrated by people with 80s nostalgia who seem to think that this team should be run exclusively by people who were good in the 1980s. Seitzer got a lot of guys who mainly hit singles and they hit singles with him. Wow. The biggest hole in Francoeur's game has always been the fact that he has ants in his pants and the pitchers have figured this out and know his weaknesses. Unfortunately for Francoeur, the scouting report on his hitting tendencies was released by Wikileaks, but it's also fairly public domain information.
Although it should be noted that once Iron Man returns from the DL, Seitzer will have 3 of the worst hitters in baseball under his wing. So he should get some non-alcoholic Four Loko to make his life better.
Ha Ha Ha. But really, this deal won't harm this team
Replacing a hitter like Mitch Maier with a player who was worse than Mitch Maier isn't harming this team? Mitch Maier is below average, but he's not famous and below average, so he's not as valued to Dayton Moore, who seems to use playoff appearances as a tiebreaker for free agent talent. I'm sure Jeff Francoeur will inspire the boys with stories of how his team won the 2010 ALCS and came out of a tough spot to make it happen.
The big factor on if this team will be bad or terrible is the trade of Zack Greinke and what we get for giving him away before his time. There is nothing about a 100 loss team that should extend Dayton Moore's tenure in KC. He probably won't get fired this year unless the people at David Glass' bingo game in Arkansas start making fun of the team really loudly. But we're not gonna go from worst to first and Dayton won't be the first Schuerholz disciple to be a good GM.
Mitch Maier and Jeff Francoeur aren't part of the future. We're just holding the line until our elite studs come up.
When the elite studs come up, the people pining for Jeff Francoeur are gonna demand grizzled vets be signed to take their jobs. Because the last several good Royals teams were made up of older players and some people in this city seem to think that if it worked in the 1980s, it must work now. Which is the main reason why players who don't get on base but would have been awesome on astroturf are so valued amongst some fans (see: Dyson, Jarrod).
Not to mention that Dayton Moore doesn't seem to be very encouraging when it comes to letting the mid-level prospect some to KC and earn a spot on the team. David Lough is getting blocked for no good reason by a player like Francoeur. It's not like we signed an expendable like Chris Truby here. Francoeur will play and can't be moved quickly and at a talent-profit. As well, There's a good shot that Gregor Blanco starts the year starting in Center and the Jarrod Dyson fanatics will be wondering why Dyson can't be played. And there was the whole matter of Kila Ka'aihue, who had a year wasted because Dayton Moore acquired Mike Jacobs to block him instead of giving Kila an honest shot to play in 2009.
But Dayton will let Moustakas play!
That's like having a Nirvana cover band, being able to play Smells Like Teen Spirit and Lithium, but completely blowing at every other good Nirvana song. Dayton should be reliable with Moustakas (even if the rise of Moustakas will lead to Kila Ka'aihue getting released/demoted). Dayton Moore has to let the prospects play eventually. Is he gonna clear room when Derrick Robinson is able to play at the big league level? Is he gonna ever give Irving Falu a chance? Will he yank around a player like Wil Myers? There's a lot about Dayton Moore that makes the avid fan realize that this guy just doesn't have what it takes to build a winning team.
This isn't a big deal, Dayton Moore is building for the future and this is a stopgap!
Dayton Moore's investment strategy is to buy a bunch of stocks that were good in 2006 and try to sell them for more than they're worth in 2011 if the stocks he has in the farm system look promising. Although that farm system stock might wind up
turning into blueberries getting stuck in Omaha. His free agent strategy is overpaying below-average players and pretending like it's a necessity. His trade strategy is blowing the timing on trades (like trading DeJesus a month too early, before we saw that the price of outfielders was going to go up). His waiver strategy probably doesn't exist on paper. His entire strategy on how to make this team good depends on him being consistently great in find future major league players when they're 18 or 21. It's like a Ponzi Scheme. The only way to end it is to have someone show up and take the stuff out of his office.
Considering Dayton's record with everything else in this organization, it's easier to believe that the so-called great system is hype stirred by people in this organization who want to keep their jobs and aided by the scouting corps of the baseball media (which lives off of word of mouth since they're not gonna see these guys on TV/in person very often, if at all). We have good players like Moustakas and Hosmer. But we have a lot of question-marks in the pitching category with none of those prospects being a bit to start 2011 in Kansas City and a shot that only one or two will be in Omaha.
And when it comes to this deal, there is no purpose to improving the Royals future which is served by signing Jeff Francoeur. If the best defense is that this is a pointless move, then you won't win the debate on this topic. This isn't the 2000s era Simpsons where you can get away with being pointless for 13 years in a row. This is Major League Baseball, and eventually Dayton Moore will either strike gold or strike out.
Francoeur will get the women to show up to the ballpark! We need that after David DeJesus left
Ok, at least someone wins in the Francoeur deal