Time for Francoeur to find a groove

Those of you who said that Tom Glavine wouldn’t step on the Turner Field mound this year need to head to the ATM or at least examine the fine print of your friendly wagers.   From what I could tell, he had no trouble standing on that mound while completing three innings and dodging a Greg Norton liner during Monday afternoon’s simulated game.  

As long as his left shoulder is still cooperating, Glavine is still planning to make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday.  In other words, the simulated game went as well as could be expected, minus the Norton liner that bruised the 43-year-old left-hander’s left hip.  

When Norton walked through the clubhouse and said he was sorry, Glavine said, “It’s better that you hit it off my leg, instead of into the seats.”

Never afraid to make himself the punchline of a one-liner, Norton said, “If I was fast enough,  I’d have run and caught that ball before it hit him.”

The soft liner didn’t seem to affect Glavine’s delivery or sense of humor.  

“I told Norton that I’ve gotten hit a lot harder with slap shots,” Glavine said in reference to his hockey background.  

Based on the comments posted today, your primary interest isn’t centered around the 43-year-old left-hander, who  won’t  be in position to pitch in a Major League game until the first week of June.  Instead, most of your attention seems to be focused on that 25-year-old right fielder who finds his current statistics eerily similar to the ones he produced at this time last year.  

When Francoeur homered on the first pitch that he saw, there was reason to believe that this year might be different than the last.  But 509 pitches and two homers later, the most significant difference is the $2.92 million raise he gained after producing career lows in batting average (.239) homers (11) and OPS (.653)  last year.   <p>

Through his first 36 games this year, Francoeur has hit .252 with three homers  a .272 on-base percentage, a .371 slugging percentage and a .642 OPS   —  fourth-worst among the 40 qualified National League outfielders.

His numbers through his first 36 games last year included a .262 batting average,  three homers, a .310 OBP, a .421 SLG and a .721 OPS.  

With less than 80 percent of the season complete, we haven’t reached a point where we can justifiably say that Francoeur is destined to repeat last year’s disappointments.   But his current trend is pointing him in that direction.  

During his first 18 games this year, Francoeur hit .292 with a .320 OBP, a .458 SLG and a .778 OPS.  In the 18 games that have followed, he’s hit .211 with a .224 OBP, .282 SLG and .505 OPS.

One of the most encouraging things about Francoeur’s start came from the fact that he recorded eight hits and 10 RBIS in his first 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position.  But he’s  had just four hits and seven RBIs in his past 26 at-bats with RISP.  

Still lost within the .279 batting average Francoeur has produced with runners in scoring position is the fact that he’s recorded three hits and produced four RBIs in six plate appearances with two outs and a runner on third base.  

In addition, simply looking at his outfield assists total isn’t going to show how many runs he saved based on the fact that runners are less apt to attempt to score or take an extra base against his arm.  

But while agreeing the statistics don’t tell the whole story about a player’s value, you can’t ignore that Francoeur’s $3.375 million salary has put him in a position where he needs to turn things around before the Braves reach the point where they deem that his cost outweighs his value.  

The Braves were reluctant to give Francoeur this salary in February and they certainly aren’t going to want to provide him an even greater arbitration-generated salary next year, if he isn’t able to end the trend that is pointing him in the same direction that he traveled in 2008.  

But it’s still too early to talk about the possibility of the Braves trading or non-tendering Francoeur.   Right now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying that his current three-week slump is just a product of the fact that he was bound to encounter struggles after completely altering his swing and stance during the offseason.  

With this being said, the business aspect that made Francoeur a millionaire is the same one that will lead the Braves to be much less patient than they were when they stuck with him throughout last year’s struggles.

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19 Comments

Although Francouer has managed to get his strike out rate down and is hitting well against left handed pitching (.347 AVG with a .346 OBP??), he is really awful against righties hitting only .202. I wonder if he saw lot more left handed pitching early in the season and it inflated his stats for April!! But overall we are back with an anemic outfield:(

Got to love the starting pitching talent that is coming up!!

Go Braves!!!!!!

Typical Braves loss tonight. Dominant starting pitching. Horrible hitting and plate discipline to spoil dominant starting pitching. And then just to make sure we don’t get the win… the bullpen swoopes in to make sure it stays out of our reach, deflating the team and city.
Yep, that loss had 2009 Atlanta Braves all over it.

Ugh. Just not our night, I guess. When you ground into 4 double plays, you’re not going to win many games. But the Braves did a great job of making a crappy pitcher, Jason Marquis, look like Bob Gibson.

And while I appreciate the effort he gives, the numbers he puts up, the way he keeps us in the game, and the leadership he provides, I still don’t like watching Derek Lowe pitch. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Not that I don’t like him and not that I don’t want him on my team, I just don’t enjoy watching him.

Can Greg Norton play left? If he can and Frenchy continues to struggle, make him platoon with Norton. Diaz and Frenchy start against the lefties (both crush them), and Anderson and Norton against the righties…not to mention Omar can play just about any position.

I would like to see just about anyone else in the organization besides Greg Norton put in the outfield. He is decent off of the bench but that is about it.

Please let’s continue to put pressure on Braves management to do something about Frenchy. How long can he be the black hole of our offense before he is sent back down to AA or AAA to get the seasoning he apparently did not fully get. I do not thing runner’s really fear his arm that much any longer (just look at tonight’s game). Let’s give Brandon Jones a chance. Really, could he be much worse?

Anyone else miss the good ol days when everything went right all the time? Remember when we used to hit home runs? Remember when we used to sweep series? Remember when we used to look at the standings every day and we knew we’d be in first?
I’m just kind of sad today… So let’s all pray for Chipp, Frenchy, Mac, Kotchman and Schafer to homer today. That would make me less kinda sad. And if not for me, do it for JJ at least!

What going on here, Frank Wren sitting on his, While this team needs some power and more inportant some leadership. good pitching for the most part but thats all this team has. No hitting, too many error, poor base running, no speed.Wren passed on Andrew and as a part time player he’s out hit most of Braves starting line up.Bring him back Frank. Where is Chipper leadership?
Someone has to challenge these guys instead of playing wait and see. The East is weak and Atlanta is just holding on. Jeff your a good hitter, go back to what got you to the bigs.

Ok so we have all noticed that Frenchy is stuggling so why has the fo addressed this…if we are noticing something they have got to be noticing the same thing…Gorkys Hernandez has been doing amazing in AA hitting somewhere around .340 he has got some crazy speed and IMHO he is more suited to be the starting CF at this point not Schafer…Schafer is just not ready defensively yes but offiensively no he is to impatient kind of like Frenchy last year just hacking away at almost everything thrown at him…Gorkys has amazing speed great range in the outfield although its not quite what Schafer’s is…he just seems to me a better option then Schafer…Gorkys is a legit leadoff man that has incredible speed and will get on base, Mark do you have any insight on this

So we can all agree Francouer’s numbers are barely above where they were last year and he is currently on pace to hit half the doubles he hit last year record only 2 more HR’s drive in 14 more runs. but he is on pace to strike out about 30 time less. So here is an option to try Lets change the lineup around. The lineup is barely producing in its current configuration so lets change things up.

I know some of you may blast this projected lineup but hey the current one isn’t producing so lets change things up some.

This is the current line up (or some variation)

Kelly Johnson/ omar infante
Yunel Escobar
Cipper Jones
Garret anderson
Brian McCann
Casey Kotchman
Jeff Francouer
Jordan Schafer

So since this is obviously not working why not try this

Yunel Escobar
Jeff Francouer
Chipper Jones
Brian McCann
Infante/ Anderson
Schafer
Kotchman
Johnson/ Diaz

Now Before I am chastised lets look at this

Yunel has hit in the leadoff spoyt vefore with some success Francouer would have a legitimate hitter behind him(No offense Schafer) and should see some better pitches to hit. Chipper has the protection of McCann and on days when lefty’s pitch Infante protects Brian You move schafer up in the line up on the hopes the he walks a good bit and by putting our 2B leader behind him he could utilize his speed to score on some of those gap shots. Now the last spot is reserved for Kelly or Matt both would perform well and would give us a decent bat at the bottom of the order.

I just think we should try and fix things like this first before calling for heads to roll. What do you guys think?

Garrett. Anderson. is. terrible. somebody, please. hear my cry…

Frenchy could hit ahead of Chipper or Pujols and it wouldnt help him. He’s swinging at balls and watching strikes again. He cant hit consistently and he’s shown that for his whole career. He’s got no power now and isnt working the counts. He’s by far the worst RF in baseball and this team wont get any better until they cut the tie with him.

I’m sorry but I am to the point where enough is enough! How much longer are we going to let the Francoeur circus show go on? Its like a girl who teases you and teases you about going out w/ you, but just never follows through…or that addict that you think is going to get past it, but falls off the wagon…

At some point the team just needs to cut their losses and trade him for what they can get….

Saying Schafer isn’t MLB ready offensively is ridiculous. Yeah, he strikes out a lot, but throughout his minor league career he’s done this. Fact of the matter is he has the sixth highest OPS on the team and the best of any outfielder. That, and he has the fourth highest OBP. To me his problem is probably where he is in the lineup. He’s striking out about 5% more often than he did in the minors and walking about 10% more often which is a likely product of having the pitcher behind him. His line drive percentage is also extremely low at 14%, about 6% below league average and well below his minor league numbers. His OBP is over .130 points better than his AVG, which suggests that once he gets through his rookie adjustment, he gets moved out of the 8 hole, and his LD% gets anywhere close to league average, he should be fine.

Also, saying Schafer is impatient is absolutely false. He leads the team in walks. He sees more pitches per plate appearance THAN ANYONE ELSE ON THE TEAM. It’s not even close. Schafer sees 4.08 P/PA and the next closest is Kotch at 3.66. As a matter of fact, Schafer is the only one in the lineup above the league average P/PA of 3.84. He may be many things, but impatient is not one of them. Likewise, he is not a hacker in the mold of Francoeu and such a reference is unbelievable. Schafer swings at 47% of the pitches he sees. League average is 44%. Francoeur swings at 57% of all pitches he sees. No comparison.

The biggest problem is Francoeur and GA, who sport OPS+ of 66 and 55, respectively. GA shows signs of life and coming around, but more than likely he’s a washed up vet who’s been on the decline across the board for several years. Frenchy is a different story. Putting Frenchy in front of Chipper is not the solution. For much of 06/07 and the beginning of 08, prior to his falling off a cliff, Frenchy batted in front of McCann on a regular basis, and still drew few walks, saw few pitches, and hit those few pitches with less and less authority, as his power numbers plummeted. The top batters in the order naturally get more PA’s over the course or the year, sometimes over 100 more PA’s. Is Jeff Francoeur, a guy with a career 90 OPS+, and a guy who has only cracked 90 one year in the four years he’s started full time, really a guy you want to see get an extra 100 (mediocre to bad) PA’s?

His terrible hitting in combination with his becoming a liability on defense (he’s been league average or worse by most every defensive metric for the last two years) screams that he needs to be benched, traded, attempted to be sent through waivers and sent down, or just DFA’d in the offseason. As great as his potential is, he’s been dead weight for most of his career, and his only value early one was in his unsustainable average with RISP.

Brandon Jones really does deserve a shot up here. He’s not hitting for power, but at least he’s hitting and getting on base, something Francoeur has proved inept in doing.

In the defense for Marquis, he pitched a great game. It should not justify that Braves’ line up choked up really bad but his pitches was sinking like crazy. I don’t even know he had that kind of movement. His command was really good as well, plus the strike zone in that game is bigger than my car.

I believe that kind of performance will not happen for a pitcher in his calibur whole season long. Too bad, the Braves just crashed into one of those games.

Diaz and Frenchy start against the lefties (both crush them)

Francoeur against lefties, career: 291/337/478. Let’s go with “adequate” rather than “crush.” Sure, he’s been awesome in 50 PAs this seaon, but he hit 210/273/307 against them in 200 PAs last season, so maybe “adequate” is a stretch.

Putting Frenchy in front of Chipper is not the solution.

If the question is “How do we get Chipper more PAs with fewer runners on base and thereby minimize our runs scored and wins?” this is the Braves’ best non-pitcher solution.

[Brandon Jones is] not hitting for power, but at least he’s hitting and getting on base

The converse of my statement above, maybe. Worth a shot, anyway. “Getting on base” and “Not making outs” is bullet point #1 for a top of the order guy, right?

Sorry for the messy post, telagreen, jacks. . ., and all others, the ‘quote’ html tags in angle brackets didn’t work.

ptownbrave…. Let’s put things in perspective… Schafer is hitting in front of the pitcher so he is likely getting a bunch of junk. I don’t even need to watch the guy hit to know that. He is a rookie, everyone knows it, and he is hitting in front of the pitcher. So how likely is he to get anything to hit? This partially explains why he has so many walks and yet a terrible BA. And naturally it gets even worse with pitchers knowing that the low BA means their approach is working.

I think it also explains a lot of the strikeouts but he has always struck out a lot anyway in the minors. He probably would be better off leading off so that he could get some legitimate ABs because right now about all he can do is take a hack since that ball is apt to be anywhere within 3′ of the plate.

I believe the solution to the right field dilemma is expecting more. Even at Francoeur’s best it isn’t good enough since he hasn’t produced a .800 OPS since his first year–and we could say right off the bat that was a fluke. There are plenty of people who are delusional thinking this guy has the potential. Potential for what? He has never walked much and he has always struck out too much in the minors. If anything we need to expect more from Liberty Media. Let’s stop trying to look for easy solutions and start looking for the right solutions. I realize that this team can’t go out on a spending spree but it’s not like there are better relatively low cost options out there. Looking around the majors… Who is better than Jeff Francoeur right now? Virtually every outfielder. What about Garrett Anderson or even Jordan Schafer? You could almost say the same thing about them. The only guy even producing at all is Matt Diaz but wow, he has been a disappointment the past two years. Was he using HGH or something else in the past? Having Matt Diaz in our outfield is okay with two other guys with legit 25 homer potential but not in our situation with just about ZERO homer potential.

It is very possible that within the next couple of weeks we could see a trade. I just don’t see how Braves management could possibly continue a trend started last year since at some point it’s going to become a rather huge embarrassment. Liberty Media cares about it’s investment. Not sure about their commitment to winning but they do care about keeping fans coming in to the stadium and it’s not going to work if the team keeps going the way it is. 5 years out of the playoffs is not acceptable. The team is going to start losing value relative to every other club if they don’t start winning. So in a backhanded way, Liberty does care and the team really does have to start performing. At least that’s my guess ;-)

I think Medlen was brought up for one main reason: To evoke a trade. He is being showcased because they could have easily brought up Tommy Hanson. Does anyone here remotely think that Hanson needs any more AAA experience? He has been mowing everyone down like Jo Jo Reyes pitching to a team made up of just pitchers. So Medlen’s value will increase by bringing him up and we may see Frenchy or Johnson on the way out. I mean, how much longer can we take this kind of hitting from these two? We already have a replacement at 2B in Prado–although the option of doing this has gone down considerably with Infante being out. Prado’s bat really needs to be in the line up every day if you ask me.

Anyway, here is to hoping Liberty spends a bit more to bring in some REAL talent. You don’t have to empty your wallet but come on, at least give the team half a chance to score some runs! Just one legit 25 homer guy is what I would like to see–someone like Nate McLouth.

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