Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is It Time for the Mets to Trade Francoeur?

When the Mets traded for Jeff Francoeur last year I was shocked. I viewed Frenchie as a lifelong Braves player and couldn't understand why Atlanta would give up on their home grown talent.

But a year later, I'm starting to see why.

Francoeur is a rare talent in the outfield. He throws out runners like it's a toss to first base. His arm has prevented dozens of runners from scoring and squashed rallies. But it's his bat that's the problem.

Calling Francoeur streaky would be like saying Siberia is chilly. He was red hot to star the season then found himself in a 60 at bat funk. He broke out for another week and appears to be back in a slump. I doubt he'll find another groove like the one he had in April.

Sure Francoeur is a great clubhouse guy, a decent leader and always good for a quote. But clubhouse leadership, while important, doesn't help you win a pennant. So I think it's time for the Mets to trade Francoeur.

When Beltran returns, the worst thing the Mets can do is send Angel Pagan to the bench or platoon him. Pagan is succeeding as an every day player. Frenchie has always been an every day player. There's no way either of these guys are going to flourish in a platoon role. You have to move one of them.

Over the long term Francoeur's bat won't suddenly become a reliable offensive machine. He'll always be streaky, but that streakiness is leaving the bottom of the Mets order vulnerable. I can't even count how many times Frenchie comes up with runners on base and two outs late in the game and then swings at the first pitch only to pop out.

There's a chance the Mets can get some relief help or a backup infielder for Francoeur while also freeing up some space in their outfield. I really like Francoeur, but I find that the only reason I want to keep him is for his arm and that he's a gregarious guy. Is that really a reason to keep a weak, unreliable bat in the lineup?

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