Jeff Francoeur

Ed. note: With the news that Jeff Francoeur will be on the Opening Day roster for the 2016 Braves, it seemed apposite to republish Mac’s classic summation of his 2008 season.

The sheer badness of Jeff Francoeur 2008 cannot be shown in the statistics. Oh, the statistics are bad, very bad. He hit .239, 25 points below the league; got on base at a .294 clip, 41 points below the league; and slugged a big fat .359, 62 points below the league. Remember, this includes not only middle infielders, catchers, and Hamsters, but also pitchers. Only five players in the entire National League made more outs than Francoeur, and most of them were top of the order hitters, and centerfielders or middle infielders.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. To really appreciate how bad Jeff Francoeur was in 2008, you had to see him. For me, the definitive Francoeur PA would not be a one-out, bases-loaded GIDP (he grounded into five bases-loaded double plays on his way to putting up a .182/.206/.242 line with the sacks full) or a one-out, runner at third popup, or a first-pitch out after two consecutive walks, though you could see all of these without waiting too long. The definitive Francoeur PA was when he would make solid contact on fastball with a vicious uppercut swing… and the left fielder would run in to make the play. The man’s bat speed has deteriorated to the point that even if he anticipates a pitch and makes contact, he isn’t generating enough velocity to do anything with it.

The entire 2008 Jeff Francoeur Experience can be defined with one word, and that word is “slowness”. His bat was slow, but that was more than matched by his feet. It was unbelieveable, watching him in the outfield, to think that he was recruited to play defensive back for a major college football team, or even Clemson. At times, particularly when chasing balls into the gap, he looked like he was running in molasses.

“Slowness” also defines the Braves’ treatment of Francoeur — and I mean slowness in all its meanings, as they both took far too long to address the problem, and then handled it incredibly stupidly. The only quick thing about Francoeur all year was how quickly the Braves backtracked once they’d finally done what was vitally necessary to keep the team in contention. The absurd three-day demotion gave the impression that whoever was running the show in Atlanta, it wasn’t the general manager, and that possibly it was actually a sponsor. Francoeur’s very serious problems could not possibly be addressed in a long weekend, especially since he refused to acknowledge that he was hurting the team.

The single biggest reason that the Braves did not win an eminently winnable division was the play of their right fielder. No one player can lose twenty games for a team, but Francoeur’s poor play probably had a greater effect on the ballclub than his mere three or so games below replacement, or his 6-9 games below average. When the Braves were in contention, they were kept out of first place by their miserable record in one-run games; if they had gotten anything from right field, things would almost certainly have been different. Moreover, the largest single systemic weakness in the Braves of the first half was a lack of righthanded power, and the reason for that is that the man employed to be the team’s righthanded power hitter — who at the beginning of the season routinely hit fifth against lefthanded pitchers — was a complete waste of space and hit eleven homers all year. The Braves hit .282/.364/.438 lefthanded , but only .256/.323/.373 righthanded; Francoeur accounted for 23 percent of their righthanded plate appearances.

I am generally opposed to selling low; however, there is such a thing as minimizing your losses. There are those who think that Jeff Francoeur is a talented player who had a bad year. I am not one of those people. I use statistics a lot, sometimes seemingly to a fault. You can’t possibly know enough from observation to make informed decisions about everything that goes on on a baseball field. But if you watch one player enough, you can tell when that player is done. Jeff Francoeur is done. He plays baseball like a 45-year-old man who maybe was pretty good in his early thirties. Even if he somehow, through an unprecedented educational program, figured out where the strike zone is and how to recognize the difference between fastballs and breaking balls, he lacks the ability now to take advantage.

All that Jeff Francoeur has going for him is his reputation as a talented athlete. That is it. Eventually, everyone will realize that his athleticism is shot, and there’s no call for a slow guy with a slow bat to play the outfield. To be perfectly honest, the only chance I see of Francoeur ever becoming a useful major leaguer again is if the Braves get rid of him, he signs on elsewhere as a minor leaguer, and he learns how to pitch.

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114 thoughts on “Jeff Francoeur”

  1. Re: The VU Hoops stuff at the end of the last thread, I know too much and can’t really say anything!

    But let it be known that VU did not strike out on Will Wade. I like Wade and have wanted him to be the guy for a while, but VU’s list is different than mine, as Wade learned from VU before signing an extension at VCU.

  2. I get that outlets like ESPN tend to employ a principle of “call me when you’re good and generating interest” when it comes to the bottom 10 teams of MLB, but good gosh, just try a little bit. They list Nick Swisher as a veteran on our team, and they say we traded a “Jordan Weems” in the Heyward deal. I guess it just gives people something to click in, but why don’t they just say, “Yeah, they suck.” They can save themselves the trouble of acting like they’re trying.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/seasonpreview_Braves/no-29-atlanta-braves

  3. Jeeves is a pretty cool nickname for TJ…especially since I’m squeamish about calling a pitcher “TJ”. We should go with it until there’s a better option.

  4. @7

    I’m Seat Painter and I approve this Braves Journal nickname.

    (That and $1.50 will get you a 20 oz Diet Coke from some vending machines, but still….)

  5. The man could write. And foretell — he called Francoeur washed up at age 24, when he had accumulated 5.2 career WAR. Cumulative WAR since then, 0.4. What Mac failed to take into account is that Francoeur being told he’s made the team is like the moment your dog sees you pull into the driveway.

  6. I can’t get too upset about Francoeur making the team. Yes, he sucks. Bonafacio sucks too, and while one could make an argument as to which sucks less, the difference is too marginal for it to really matter.

    The concern, I guess, is that Fredi gives him 2-3 starts or more per week and bats him at the top of the order, but that’s a Fredi Problem, not a Francoeur Problem.

  7. After 4 seasons of negative WAR the only logical thing to do is work out a 3-for-1 bad contract swap with an older dog, a cat, and a hamster.

  8. Other than the Mets failing to win it all, I’m not sure what I’m rooting for this year (realistically speaking).

    But, I’m sorry, this Frenchy thing really is a bit of a cruel joke.

  9. This may be too optimistic for any of us but, Frenchy has a history of playing pretty well for a little bit after a change of scenery. If by chance that happens again, maybe we can flip him for something useful at the trade deadline.

  10. Frenchy had a history of that. Here’s how he’s greeted his last two new teams:

    San Francisco Giants, 2013
    First 10 games: .226/.250/.258
    Total with Giants (22 games): .194/.206/.226

    San Diego Padres, 2014
    First 10 games: .083/.179/.083
    (That’s all he got.)

  11. If he helps offset anticipated losses at the gate/on TV, the Braves had better spend the damned money, is all I have to say about this. Maitan or bust.

  12. I’d pay a lot more to see any dog in the outfield than Francouer. The same could almost be said of the rest of the starting lineup though, so I guess maybe it would come down to the breed and disposition of the dogs in question. There might be some dog that I’d want to watch less than some Brave.

  13. @12, I don’t think that’s quite fair. Francouer put up 6 cumulative WAR from the point we released him in 2009 to the end of 2011, and 2011 was a 3.1 WAR season. It’s not his fault that 5 different teams gave him enough total AB to piss all that back from 2012-2015. The main problem with Francouer is that he was never that good, and not nearly so good as he was expected to be. He had a couple of good seasons, a couple decent ones, and several terrible ones.

  14. Who’s going to show up to watch Francouer other than his friends and family? If they want to sell more tickets then I think they should give one day contracts to random fans at least once per homestand.

  15. Refresher on the narrative these past two years:

    Wren was a jerk and wasn’t doing a good job of developing players. Farm system sucked and we couldn’t evaluate talent. We fire Wren. All of a sudden, some people come back. The idea is shifting that the Braves now have assembled better talent evaluators and are not only making smart trades to re-build the farm system, but they’re investing heavily in international free agency and other cheap talent sources. Prospects are developing, help is on the way, etc. Watch out for 2017.

    And now we’re trading for, signing, and releasing players like we’re sifting through items at the dollar store. Most of it is crap, but some is not as crappy. We’re trying to elevate the quality of roster spots 21-25. Since we don’t have any idea whether or not Stubbs/Francoeur/Bonifacio/Bourn/Folty/Chacin/Perez/Banuelos/Torres/O’Flaherty/Random LHs That Have Been Released. How do you feel about the Braves shifting things around, sending Folty to AAA, going with Chacin in the rotation, etc.? Is there confidence that they know what we’re doing?

  16. @28, part of the counter narrative on BJ is that some people are somehow mindlessly loyal to either the current braintrust or, more unbelievably, to Liberty media, and/or they care about their finances. Those people bought the propaganda and scapegoated Wren. Wren, in fact, was a good GM, and he only pillaged the farm system bc the current admin tied his hands.

    I think it’s more like this. Diehard fans are hopeful to a fault. We have to believe that the team is eventually going to win. I’m sure there were weird politics with Wren, but however it worked out, we had a mediocre team with minimal pitching and a poor farm.

    We tried a drastic overhaul bc hey what we got to lose? Admin realizes we will suck this year, so they are planning to field a team with that in mind. Folty is not 100% after his clots. Chacin and Norris used to be good. We’re not playing for anything, anything at all this year, so we might as well see if we can get something out of cheap options. It’s not a long term plan–it’s muddling your way through a season as the worst team in baseball. In that light, moves don’t have to make sense from a competitive POV. They’re about frugality and buying time for development. If someone becomes trade bait, bully for him.

  17. I wouldn’t look too deeply into anything they are doing with the roster right now. None of this matters. They are still completely tanking it, but they don’t dare say it out loud.

  18. Nobody here wants to hear it, but in my mind the rebuild really starts with last year’s draft and this upcoming draft. Don’t be shocked if we draft another pitcher with the 3rd pick.

  19. @26

    I was simplifying for the purpose of homage, but I’ll stick to Mac’s assertion that Francoeur’s best days were already mostly behind him.

  20. I totally get the sentiment about Liberty Media being cheap, and once again, I’m still pretty pissed there hasn’t been an explanation for what we’ve done with all of the savings from the payroll we’ve shed. With that in mind, Wren inked a bunch of deals that were terrible. Lowe, Kawakami, Mudge, CJ, Uggla. You just can’t be that bad on signing players and keep your job. Whether he was a “good” GM or a “bad” GM, I don’t really know, but 79 wins in 2014 and a depleted cupboard was not the best way to demonstrate your skills.

    With that said, I went back and read the Francoeur write-up thread, and we were talking about how much the Braves had to spend. Peanut said “closer to $20M than $30M”. Uhhh, where did that go? “Closer to $20M than $30M” means… Bud Norris and what? A bonus we’re about to take from Bonifacio? We’ve added like $3M in payroll and umpteen minor league deals. That’s really the BS that I’m wondering about.

  21. @31, right nobody wants to hear it. Everyone is a denialist but you. Not that it makes any sense to argue about when the rebuild “started”. What 6-9 months passed between the arguable start (when we traded heyward) to last year’s draft? People really dig their heels in to insist it’s the former?

  22. @33, rob I’m with you on being pissed off the payroll isn’t higher and I couldn’t possibly care less what some corporation earns off the Braves. However, I’m not sure it makes any long-term sense to spend an extra $20 mil this season on the MLB roster. On what? Who would even sign with us? Why would we want to be 3-5 wins better than the 70 wins we generously project to?
    It’s not like big contracts don’t have a downside. What if we spent $20 mil and got saddled with an albatross?!? We’d be SOL when we finally have a puncher’s chance in 2018-9

  23. #28 – I have no problems with Folty going to Gwinnett. No reason to rush him (health related) and he’s not a better option than any of the other guys.

    We should’ve paid for a solid 2-3 type starter and maybe that would save some of our bullpen arms.

  24. Does anyone know where DOB or Peanut said the “closer to $20M than $30M”. Peanut tweeted me that the Cleveland deal ate that money. Uhh, no. The Cleveland deal was in August and it was in the offseason that they said we had that $20M figure.

  25. Guys, be nice.

    I’ll stick with Mac and assert that Kawakami really wasn’t that bad. It isn’t his fault that the team decided to disappear him after a season in which he was a bit better than league-average, which is exactly what we paid him for.

  26. Who’s going to show up to watch Francouer other than his friends and family?

    One of the local news channels had a segment about how the Francouer Franks are back, you know, the guys from 2005 that wore those hot dog costumes behind home plate at Turner Field.

  27. The translation of Francoeur is “French-heart.” The contraction of which is “F’art.”

  28. 12—The man could write.

    No kidding, although I sure took it for granted while he was still writing. Now that he’s not, having his old writings re-posted is like finding a $20 in my old coat pocket.

  29. Schuerholz is basically stepping back to an advisory capacity. The team now has three presidents: John Hart, president of baseball operations; Derek Schiller, business; Mike Plant, president of development. Schuerholz will now be “vice chairman.” All three presidents will now report to CEO Terry McGuirk, though Hart will apparently also continue to report to Schuerholz.

    http://ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/schuerholz-stepping-aside-as-braves-president/nqwgf/

    Now… Why is Hart reporting to two people? Probably because Schuerholz believes McGuirk doesn’t really know anything about baseball, and also because he can’t bring himself to actually retire.

    Also, what does it mean when an organization has three presidents? Is it a triumvirate? Why are there separate presidents of “business” and “development” — wouldn’t development be a business function?

    Anyhow, this is a little strange, but anything that results in the 75-year old Schuerholz getting closer to retirement strikes me as a good thing. He’s had a long, glorious career, but it’s time for him to step down, and the team is having trouble moving on. He’s turning into the person who’s the last man in the room to know it’s time to go. But even a partial step like this seems positive.

  30. I am waiting to see how much the Braves drop in the International Market for K. Maitan at al. If it’s in the range of 20 million, and we nab several elite prospects, then I won’t whine and complain. But if we let some team outbid us for Maitan, and only spend our allotment, then I’m gonna be irked.

    Or peeved. Yeah, possibly even peeved.

  31. Oh hey! Surprise, ManBan’s elbow is hurting again. Seems to me the chances that he ever hits 180 IP in a season are pretty slim – he’s Jaime Garcia, except more fragile and not near as good.

  32. @37

    http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/baseball/hart-braves-in-far-better-position-than-12-months-/nnwMG/

    “The Braves will likely increase their payroll some in 2016, but the bigger jump will come in 2017 when they move into a new Cobb County Ballpark. They won’t give specific figures now and Hart said they haven’t set a firm payroll for 2016, but it’s believed the Braves will have about $25 million to $30 million to spend this winter on 2016 salary additions.”

    So $95 million + 20 million = $77 million in Braves Math.

    BJ Upton’s contract would have come off the books next year and since he was traded the payroll went from $115 to $95 to $77. I get that you don’t need to spend money on this team but the FO packaged Kimbrel with him because they HAD to get that money off the books. What did they do with that money? $30 million saved in 2 years and payroll goes down by almost $40 million?

  33. @46 – Taking less back for Kimbrel so that you could pocket BJ’s contract dollars for a few years is the single least defensible thing the current FO has done. The Olivera trade is in competition with the Simmons trade for second worst thing.

  34. “Look it doesn’t take a genius to know that every organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn’t have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be, without the popes.” -Oscar

  35. By reading these comments, I think it is going to be a long season.

    I also wonder if the Braves may make some unconventional moves at the deadline and be buyers. Maybe that is where the extra money will be.

  36. I’m a pretty positive guy (krussell and I are primed to duel for the rest of our lives), but it really frustrated me last night getting lied to by Peanut. It also seems that Ryan C was lied to as well, according to my reading of the Twitter machine. At the end of the day, they don’t owe me a thing, but don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.

    I don’t live in a world where I don’t expect businesses to not compensate for huge losses. I never expect the LA Lakers to go out and spend above their payroll budget because they give stupid money to Kobe Bryant. That’s their decision. I don’t expect the Nationals to blow up their payroll because they have sunk costs in Ryan Zimmerman. So when they needed to compensate for the Mudge Debacle, then I get that. But what I don’t get is dismantling the team, saying we have money to spend in October/November, not spending any money, and then saying it’s because of a trade we made last August. That’s BS.

  37. @51 What was I lied to about? I’m sure it happened, but likely my “baby-brain” forgot about it.

    And your 2nd paragraph is one of the most frustrating part of being a Braves fan right. All I can say is the FO better blow us away on international spending to compensate for lack of spending on the FA market.

  38. Jeff Francoeur? Drew Stubbs? Wow, I’ll take Formerly Athletic Outfielder Disappointments for $400, Alex.

  39. I couldn’t care less about signing Kevin Maitan. One dude that maybe arrives in 2020 is NOT going to fix this mess.

  40. Another 14 years of dominating the division beginning in 2017 would be nice. Of course, winning a few more World Series during that time frame would be even nicer.

  41. If it’s a choice between sucking this year and signing Kevin Maitan and sucking this year and NOT signing him, then I know which outcome I’d prefer.

  42. @57,59

    And that’s precisely why it’s not exactly good PR to say, “Oh, don’t worry about missing out on Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespdes or Ben Zobrist, we’re going to be signing a guy named Kevin Maitan! If a lot of things break well, this fella will be coming to a stadium near you in 2020!” That just doesn’t rev the engines of Braves fans.

  43. @51, Rob, I don’t think Bowman is lying when he says that the effect of the CJ trade with the Indians was to clear money for the 2017 season.

    I agree with Smitty from earlier, I think they will be willing to take on contracts at deadline this year in order to be in a better position to start ’17. That’s my bet for how they start using the payroll flexibility.

    Also, in general, pretty silly to crap on Maitan as if it’s the entirety of the rebuild. Without him they have one of the top farms now, and it’ll be productive before 2020.

  44. @62, To be fair it doesn’t seem like that’s been a big part of the Braves PR campaign. That’s more of the narrative amongst the hardcore fan base.

  45. 1) I doubt international signings come from the same pool as the major league payroll.

    2) The Braves could smash every record for international spending in 2017 and the money they spent still wouldn’t buy them a mid-tier free agent. Amateurs are not that expensive in terms of a major league team’s expenses.

    I don’t think Maitan, etc, has anything to do with the Braves cutting payroll for 2016; I think they’re just being cheap.

  46. Carlos Torres opts out of his contract and becomes a FA.

    So, our staff looks like what?

    Teheran
    Norris
    Wisler
    Chacin
    Gant?

    Grilli?
    Vizcaino
    Johnson
    Ogando
    O’Fleherty
    Perez
    ???

  47. Re: Braves apparel purchases, a great way to hedge your bets about the future would be to buy yourself a Ron Gant jersey. You’d look smart no matter what.

  48. From ESPN (and FWIW they were right about the Braves win total last season):

    TAKE THE UNDER

    Atlanta Braves (66.5) — This victory projection is so low that it’s difficult to take the under, but their opening rotation is pretty scary, there’s no power outside of Freddie Freeman, the bullpen is relying on vets such as Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson, the best young arms on the farm aren’t major-league ready and they’re certainly going to miss Andrelton Simmons on defense. This looks like a potential 100-loss team.

  49. I bet the back end of the roster, the last 5-6 guys, were probably a -5-6 WAR last year. Just bloody putrid. If we can replace that with a collection of non-stiffs who can produce 3-4 WAR, that really swings some games. I really want to be encouraged that just letting these guys walk to other teams means we feel pretty comfortable with who they’re keeping on the roster.

    I though it was funny, in respect to Alex Torres they said he was “not a good fit.” I worked for another large Atlanta-based organization for many years, and that just means one thing: we really don’t like you. There may have been some discord last year which has caused the Braves to seemingly focus on players who “play the game the right way”, “know how to win”, are “fan-favorites”, “veteran presences” and other jargon that means piddly crap. Maybe they feel they’re assembling the best “team”, whereas last year, after the trades, injuries, and mass suckitude, they were just employing pulses and guys that had some free time in August and September.

  50. If Jeff Francoeur and Gordon Beckham are our first bats off the bench, and they’re worse than Eury Perez, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Johnson, Pedro Ciraico, Eric Young, and Todd Cunningham, then I’m out of here by the end of April. If we’re in the 6th inning of a tie game, and we go to a guy who is worse than Eric Stults, Sugar Ray Marimon, Nick Masset or Ross Detwiler, then I. Just. Can’t. I’ll have more “can’t even” than a white girl. I just… believe… blindly… that the Braves have worked really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. By releasing Nick Swisher, the Torres Twins, David Carpenter, and sending Folty, Weber, and more to come to AAA, they’re saying, “we’re better than last year”.

    Coppy, don’t let me down.

  51. I haven’t paid one bit of attention to spring training, and only now noticed the Braves’ record.

    This is going to be a long six months, isn’t it?

  52. He’s been spending the whole winter listing out all the relievers’ names in different order, for crying out loud. The bullpen. Of the 2016 Atlanta Braves. He did this to himself.

    This is from just two threads ago:
    That aside, how do we not really like the depth and quality of the bullpen? For probably 2/3 of the year, we’ll have a bullpen of Grilli/Vizcaino/Johnson/O’Flaherty/Torres/Simmons/Withrow. If 3 or 4 of our starters can keep us in the game through 6, we look really good. That bullpen also keeps Banuelos, Perez, Winkler, Weber, and Ramirez out of the Braves MLB plans, so you’ve got a ton of depth. If you roll out of camp with Teheran/Norris/Wisler/Chacin/Folty, then you have Gant in the bullpen in the long-spot. Fantastic.

    Frankly I’m sad Rob’s giving up so quickly.

  53. I know ST results are meaningless, but being somewhat oompetitive would be nice for the fans who come out to watch the games. Our win percentage is 23%. Adding a few of the ties as wins, this would put us on pace to win about 40 games through the regular season. Wake me up when the 2016 season is over!

  54. If they’re somewhat oompetitive, I assume that they have some choreographed song and dance numbers about doing the right thing at pivotal junctures? And candy. Explains Frenchy’s return I guess.

  55. …hope…

    Mac or no Mac let’s remember this definition of a cynic from way back, by an Irishman at that…

    ‘one who knows the cost of everything, the value of nothing.’

  56. Thank heavens for Grant Brisbee. From his season preview:

    “Projected standings:

    1. New York Mets
    2. Washington Nationals
    3. Miami Marlins
    4. Atlanta Braves
    5. Philadelphia Phillies

    Chances of the fourth-place team winning the division: About as likely as a team building a parking lot across the freeway from a new stadium, then not building a bridge to get from one place to the other.”

  57. I was having major keyboard problems for some reason (@82), but thought I corrected the typos. I would love it if we fielded a team of Oompa Loompas although I would not be in favor of bringing Corky Miller back since he reminded me of an Oompa Loompa for some reason.

  58. Our bullpen should be the most competitive part of the roster, to go with a bottom 3 offense and a bottom 5 starting rotation. The bullpen might be average, which should help us save some face–they will lock down more than a few 3-run deficits and keep it from getting out of hand.

  59. I’m really just kidding. Especially since the “2/3 of the season” line from Adam’s quotes is referencing the last 2/3 of the season. Pitchers getting healthy and potential deadline deals could help. I dumped out last year in August and September, but that’s what happens when you have 9 pitchers with ERAs over 6. We used 37 pitchers last year, and hadn’t used more than 21 since 2008, and yeah, if that happens again, I think this bar will start clearing out a little.

  60. Things To Look Forward To During The Year In THe Wilderness.

    1. Ender Inciarte running down screaming liners in the gap. (with the state of the rotation, he should have ample opportunities.)

    2. Freddie Freeman giving hugs.

    3. Julio Teheran’s quest for excellence. Or maybe just relevance.

    4. Mallex Smith going first to third on a single to left and not even drawing a throw.

    5. Hector Olivera and Nick Markakis duelling to see which one will hit his first home run first. (BTW – I’ll take Olivera and the Memorial Day over for $10.00 please).

    6. The June 2 pillaging of the International signing period.

    7. The September call ups of Swanson and Albies.

    Yup, gonna be just like 1989 around these here parts. Maybe the Braves can hire me to paint the seats during the games.

  61. I think everyone knows what we’re in for. When you watch a 100-loss team you have to make up things to get excited about. For me that’s going to be watching the minor league call-ups. I’m hoping that starts happening in May/June rather than September.

  62. From Peta projections, ESPN:

    “The Braves used a mind-blowing total of 33 different relievers last year, and outside of their two closers, the other 31 had a combined ERA of 5.12. It would seem utterly impossible for 31 different major league pitchers to produce well below replacement-level results over 404 innings. And this wasn’t a case of overuse, either; collectively, the Braves bullpen was 21st in innings pitched.

    If Atlanta can find relievers to lower its ERA a full point — to 4.12 over those 400 innings — the team will still have the worst bullpen in the National League (excluding Colorado and those aggravating park effects), yet the Braves will also give up 45 fewer runs and win five more games. And I repeat for emphasis, they’d still have the worst bullpen in the National League. There probably isn’t lower-hanging fruit in the entire league this ripe for improvement.”

  63. @95

    And with all of that, how did they go 28-18 in one-run games? That has to be the biggest collection of luck ever gathered. It makes no sense.

    If the Braves had money to spend, chose not to spend it on relief pitching, then released three half-way decent relievers in Spring Training, and then turn in another 5.12 ERA… that’s a tough pill to swallow as a fan. I can only h*** (bad word) that the filtering of relievers was productive.

  64. The bullpen doesn’t have to be good when you are down by 5 in the 5th inning of every game.

  65. You know, Jeff Francoeur is not good. But I’m not sure he’s worse than Nick Swisher.

  66. I have no problem with Francoeur being used primarily as a late inning defensive replacement. I give Fredi a 51% chance of not turning him into an everyday starter before May 1. If that isn’t being hopeful I don’t know what is.

  67. Francouer isn’t worse than Nick Swisher, but we’re paying the latter $15 million not to play for us, and we’re paying the former a million or so to play for us in his stead. Well, ticket sales and all…

  68. Well, depends on how you look at Swisher. Swisher is the personification of our bad extension for CJ. Really, we’re paying Chris Johnson to play for the Marlins, but his money is being portrayed by a guy who says “-licious” way too much.

    Really, if Francoeur is better than Eury Perez, Cunningham, and EYJ (sadly, a big “if), then at least we’re moving in the right direction.

  69. I flip on the radio & hear this:

    WFAN host: What’s the worst team you’ve seen in spring training?

    WFAN Mets beat reporter: Atlanta.

    WFAN host: Worse than Philly? No talent anymore, right? Think they could lose 100 games?

    WFAN Mets beat reporter: Maybe. Pitching is a problem, um, major-league talent is a problem & I could see them having more than one 10-game losing streak along the way. Gonna be a long season, for sure.

    WFAN host: Mets play 38 games against Atlanta & Philly. They should feast on those teams. I could see 30-8, 28-10, something like that.

    WFAN Mets beat reporter: And they play them a lot the first month, so if they could get off to a hot start…

    Click. Turns radio off. Returns to music.

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