Atrocious. Awful. Painful.
These words from American Idol judge Simon Cowell about Sanjaya Malakar could just as easily be used to describe Julio Franco this season. Franco is batting a stellar .188 with a slugging percentage of .250 and only one extra base hit.
But much like Sanjaya, Julio Franco won't go away. He continues to show up in key pinch hitting situations (like the other week against the Cardinals and Phillies), and he continues to deliver one sour note after another. His bat speed is slower than most high school baseball players. He swings at the first pitch every other time up. He doesn't play the field well.
So why is he still around?
I know Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph fawn over his leadership in the clubhouse and how the players respect him. Ok, I'll give you the intangibles, but doesn't that just make him a bench coach? Why is he taking a spot on the roster?
Unlike Sanjaya, no one is voting to keep Franco around except Omar Minaya & Willie Randolph. So what happens when it's time to set the playoff roster, if the Mets actually win a few games in the next 3 months? You're going to have to drop a guy like Rueben Gotay or Carlos Gomez in order to keep Franco on the roster when Endy Chavez & Moises Alou return. Now neither of those two young guys are saviors of the ball club but they can at least pinch run if not drop down a bunt to say the least.
Thankfully, Sanjaya made his exit before the final rounds of American Idol, but it doesn't look like Franco will be exiting any time soon. I would love to see Julio as a bench coach some day, but he's just taking up an extra spot on this roster which needs an extra bat. Especially of late.