It seems everyone has an opinion on Jeff Francoeur lately, following the news that he is asking for $4million in arbitration, compared to the Braves' offer of $2.8mil. All this while coming off a season where he hit .239 and reached base at a clip below the OBP Mendoza Line (.300). Honestly, like Mark Bradley, I don't have a problem with Franc (won't use the Frenchy moniker, can't, sorry) asking for the scrilla. It's a bidness, and he's just following the arbitration rules. Plus, in all honesty, he'll probably lose. With the Braves' throwing around cash this offseason like a virgin sailor in a Peruvian whorehouse, $3million on a RF with Francoeur's potential could be a steal.
What I don't want to hear (Steak Shapiro) is that Francoeur is somehow owed this money due to his marketing prowess for the Braves over the last few years. Screw that. You know what else is good for marketing and PR? Winning ballgames...something Francoeur has contributed to in short supply for the last two seasons.
Also, maybe it was the initial hype, the pressure, the early accolades, but this guy seems to whine alot. First, he handled his demotion to the minors last year with all the grace of a 2-year-old getting put in a "timeout" that lasts twenty seconds. All offseason, he's deflected criticism of his problems last year without ever hinting at what adjustments in his approach at the plate he plans to make. This morning on 790 the Zone he commented on being glad to know that newly-acquired Derek Lowe is (paraphrasing) "someone you can count on to actually be out there every 5th day, unlike we've had in years past." A slight dig at Smoltz/Glavine? Maybe, but ultimately unimportant. But then, he has the audacity to go where no athlete has gone before and attack bloggers:
The nerve. Anyways, I hope Francoeur can turn it around, as it would be nice to not have to see the local media treating the golden boy with kid gloves any longer by recycling the same stories endlessly; but mainly, because as it stands right now, he is the only right-handed bat with any power in the Braves lineup. Barring the signing and inexplicable resurgence of Andruw Jones, it appears that someone with an OPS of .653 last year will be counted on as one of the Braves' primary run producers. This scares me.
“I can’t tell you how many people come up and say ‘We’re praying for you this year,’” Francoeur said. “That means more to me than some guy on a blog ripping me to pieces.”
Speaking of recycled stories...let's hope Caleb King, Richard Samuel or someone emerges in spring/fall practice as the clear-cut primary #1 tailback for the Dawgs. Otherwise the AJC and Athens Banner-Herald can dust off all those "who will emerge at tailback for the Dawgs" stories from 2004-2006.
You remember those?
"(Brown/Lumpkin/Ware) led the Bulldogs with 88 yards rushing and a touchdown on Saturday and has emerged as the team's #1 RB, working with the first-team offense all week in practice. (Quote from Richt about Brown/Lumpkin/Ware emerging as #1 RB).
(TB/Lump/Ware) took the majority of the snaps with the second-team offense. (Encouraging quote from Richt on said #2 RB).
(TB/Lump/Ware) (explanation of either poor performance or injury as a reason for being dropped to #3). (Quote from Richt on what needs improvement, either on the injury or performance part)."
And fin. Then switch around all the names and re-hash for next week's editions.
Went to ajc.com to see what other local sports news is out there...and naturally Pacman is back on the front page. Would be the headline of the day if not for the "Another N.Y. Giants receiver shot" entry.
Back to the Braves...of all the names being thrown around (realistically) for a final bat to plug into the lineup, here's my list, unsolicited as always, of who I'd like to see in there next year, based on everything from age, salary, production, etc. etc.
5. Xavier Nady - Contact year, good. Boras client, not good. In his prime and improving every year, good. Likely Yankee asking price being too high...not good.
4. Adam Dunn - If this Washington Post article (link via Talking Chop) is correct about the current salary market out there for Dunn and other free agents, then I'd love to see him in the middle of the Braves lineup... even if that would make the heart of the order somewhat vulnerable to lefty-lefty matchups. That said, even in this CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE (suggestion for SWPL: add "talking about the damn economy"), I can't see someone who has hit 40+ homers in each of the last six seasons receiving a weaker deal than Edgar Rentaria.
3. Nick Swisher - Can play multiple positions and is under contract for three more seasons. Possible replacement at 1B if Kotchman doesn't workout. Again though, Yankee asking price is probably too high given his favorable contract.
2. Andruw Jones - At $400k (or whatever the ML minimum is), I think it's worth the risk. I also wouldn't even be opposed, like many Braves fans are, to signing him to a incentive-laden major league deal. You're telling me Andruw doesn't have more upside than Josh Anderson, Diaz, Brandon Jones, etc.? Please. I love cheap risks with tons of potential.
1. Brian Roberts - As much as I'd love to see Andruw back with the Braves, being able to snag the true leadoff hitter the club has been missing since Furcal left (the first time!) would be too valuable to pass up. Let Kelly Johnson go back to the outfield, roll with the KJ/Diaz platoon you know Cox loves to bust out there (no puns, please), and give Schaeffer/Anderson time to grow in center. Allow Yunel to hit out of the #2 hole, which fits his anti-walks approach at the plate, and move KJ to the #7 spot, providing some power to the bottom of the lineup. Yeah, it sucks the Braves might have to part with some prospects, but B-Rob is an OBP machine, which would likely allow Chipper, McCann et. al. to come up there with more runners on base. Plus, with the Lowe/Kawakami signings, the Braves clearly intend to compete for the playoffs this year and aren't in rebuilding mode...so go ahead and grab a bat, Frankie Boy. Any of the above will work.
As long as athletic departments act financially as separate entities from their universities, I cannot begrudge them for turning a profit while the academic side of things take a bit of a hit. Yes it sucks overall, but thus is the world we live in. Deal with it, I guess.
I've kind of calmed down over the whole "Willie Martinez - fire him?" situation, but I don't think the "WHO WOULD WE HIRE?!?!?!?!" line-of-reasoning is a sound reason to keep a guy around. Much like when Richt hired Searles, I have faith he will land a top candidate. That said, I do worry that passing over Rodney Garner again will mean we lose him next season, but the program cannot make crucial decisions with "W.W.R.G.D." in mind constantly. Keep in mind, however, there is no news whatsoever on the Martinez-to-Miami front, so this could all be much-ado-about-nuttin'.
Everything I've seen and heard points to Dennis Felton being a great guy, but it's clear he's on borrowed time in Athens. (h/t GSB) And it's probably the right decision.
Finally, we generally try to avoid (while still letting you know where our thoughts lie regarding) politics on this site, but if this excellent post by Doug is any indicator or predictor, I do and have believed for sometime that George W. Bush will be looked at favorably and more sympathetically post-presidency. I'd elaborate but this ain't the time or the place.
It is, however, appropriate to point out that whatever you thoughts are on Obama, the awesomeness that is the new Jeezy video for the old Jeezy anthem to the new Prez. Never thought I'd see a neon blue lambo in the same video as my U.S. congressional rep bumpin' up and down. Never again will you see someone holding up a GHANDI sign three feet away from a SOULJA SLIM sign, either.