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Jeff Francoeur is selfish and deluded

Aug 11, 2010, 8:23 AM EDT

If any other player sent his agent on a media campaign for more playing time as his team was struggling, he'd be excoriated. Jeff Francoeur is not any other player.

Every year someone pencils Jeff Francoeur in as their starting right fielder. Every year someone — or many someones — writes the “this is the year Francoeur finally lives up to his potential!” story. Every year he comes out and puts up a substandard performance that, if baseball was truly a meritocracy, would render him a platoon player at best.

And of course, every year when someone like me points this out, the response comes back that Francoeur is a team player who’s great in the clubhouse and everyone should just leave him alone.

But you know what? He’s not a team player. He’s not great in the clubhouse. I know this because someone who is a team player and great clubhouse guy would not have his agent campaigning in the media about how her client needs to start or be traded:

Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur has told the club through his
representatives that he is interested in being traded to a team that
would play him more, both sides confirmed yesterday.

“We want to
play every day,” Francoeur’s agent Molly Fletcher said yesterday. “We
prefer to play in New York. But if we’re not going to play every day in
New York, we absolutely welcome the opportunity to play every day
somewhere else . . . Talk to me is just that: It’s talk. What matters is
what happens and is he in right field every day. And that’s what we’re
watching.”

Media campaigns designed to undermine team decision making are nothing new for Francoeur. In 2008 the Braves sent him down to the minors to try and figure out why he, you know, can’t hit. The stint was supposed to last weeks. As soon as he went down, however, stories began to appear in the Atlanta papers about how unhappy he was and his trip to the minors ended up lasting three games.

If any other player acted like this he’d be called out as a prima donna. Not Francoeur!  No, he gets damn nigh delusional profiles written about him in national publications about how sad it is that he’s not getting more playing time. And you should really read that link, by the way. It suggests that David Wright and Carlos Beltran would be benched if only there were people who could take their place, but Francoeur — who, sadly, doesn’t have a media horde following him as he approaches his 100th career home run! — deserves to be playing because he’s “the team’s hottest hitter.” With that designation being based on five games. Never mind that just before that stretch he was 0 for his previous 15. And you won’t be surprised to find his agent being quoted in that piece as well.

The selfish P.R. onslaught comes as the Mets are sinking in the standings and their team offensive numbers have plummeted to Cubs/Nats level. If any other player pulled this garbage they’d be excoriated in the press and on talk radio, but I can bet you good money that won’t happen to Francoeur. His alleged misuse will still be cited by those seeking Jerry Manuel’s head (never mind that trying to bench Francoeur is one of the few smart things he’s done this year). He’ll still have his supporters calling in to WFAN arguing that he just needs to be given a chance, notwithstanding the fact that he’s had 3300+ plate appearances which conclusively prove that he is, regrettably, what he is.

And what he is, at best, is a fourth outfielder. A platoon guy. A player who has no business starting for a team with pretensions of contention, and may not even be worthy of a starting slot on a rebuilder. His agent wants him to go someplace where he’ll play everyday? Tell me which team would be wise to hand him their starting job. Because, really, I can’t see one who should.

And that’s especially true if he continues to make the story all about him and his own interests as opposed to what’s best for his team.

  1. Dempsey's Army - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I always found it interesting how the Atlanta media would give Francouer a pass on this behavior while Yunel Escobar was pilloried for not learning English.

  2. quint - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    To be honest Craig, that reads more as defending Francoeur than attacking him, because if it was attacking what he and his agent are doing, you didn’t go anywhere near far enough.
    I am so sick of professional athletes deluding themselves into thinking they should be playing everyday.
    The Braves trading this loser to the Mets is clearly the best trade of the last decade, for no other reason than they got someone else to take him, the fact it was a division rival only sweetens the deal.

  3. Kevin S. - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    You wondered why a good old-country boy from the area got a pass while the Hispanic import didn’t? Really?
    My girlfriend is from Atlanta. At a game last summer with her and her brother (pre-trade), I was ragging on how awful Frenchie was (I think this might have been right after his OBP/Jumbotron comments). My girlfriend’s brother said he agreed with everything I said, but they’d never turn on him down there, and where he comes from had a lot to do with it.

  4. BasicInstinct - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    The fact is that Carlos Beltran is able to take his rehab stint with the Mets in the middle of the season instead going down to AAA until he feels better.
    And yes, when you need to win games, why sit a guy who is hot and has won you a couple games in the last week or so? It sends the wrong message to every player on the team. Help us win, but you’re still a chump.
    In MLB there are a lot of underperforming players playing everyday. Whether you dislike the guy or his agent, give them some credit for being optimistic about their future, wherever it may be.
    If you had Terry Pendleton as a batting coach, you would suck too. Why bring up the Braves mismanagement of another hitter? Explain Nate McLouth’s problems, or Yunel Escobar. Jason Heyward hasn’t been there long enough, just wait and see.
    At least Francoeur acts like he wants to be on a Team whose management wants as many Latin players as possible. Meritocracy? You’ve got to be kidding!

  5. BasicInstinct - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    Escobar didn’t want to learn English because then he would have to listen to Terry Pendleton.
    At least Escobar didn’t make six errors in a couple weeks! Gonzales is horrible! But his English is probably good.
    And, Yunel’s poor throw to Glaus was the last straw, did you notice how horrible Glaus has been lately defensively…..can’t bend over to stop a grounder (which cost the Braves a run last night), or catch a throw from the pitcher….it’s embarrassing. If we make the playoffs, his Achilles knees will be his demise… and the Braves’s I fear.

  6. BC - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Francoeur just plain sucks. It was worth it for the Mets to take a flier on him for what they gave up (the walking disaster that is Ryan Church). But it ain’t working. He couldn’t hit water if he fell out of an effing boat. If they can trade him for ANYTHING, they might as well do it. Otherwise DFA him. Other than being able to throw guys out from the outfield, he’s useless, and now he’s flapping his mouth as well. Don’t need him.

  7. FlyEaglesFly - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    Who cares about Jeff Francoeur? Why are there so many posts about him? Craig, you need to end your bromance with Francoeur now.

  8. Dempsey's Army - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    I didn’t really wonder, just being subtle. ;-)
    I live in Atlanta and while I’m not a Braves fan, I attend a lot of games. The difference between how Francouer and Escobar were embraced by the fans was striking. I’ll let others decide why.
    But the media? I was a bit surprised how quick most of the local baseball writers were to defend Francouer. And we know how they treated Escobar. Seemed odd for “professional” journalists but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point.

  9. shea801 - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Being shipped to the Mets WAS his punishment for acting like this.

  10. The Real Shuxion - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Tell me about it. That team is such a train wreck.

  11. onemilemore - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Maybe no one writes up these articles about needing to bench Francoeur because they know he is mediocre, and as a result don’t expect Beltran and Wright-like numbers from him.

  12. Old Gator - Aug 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Listen, if they want to make benching Francouer the last straw in the cauterization of Jerry Manuel, by all means, let’s inflate Frenchie’s value to delusional proportions for one more month or two. It isn’t going to make any difference in the standings to this team. Folks are getting upset about Joe Kerrigan’s “backstabbing” while this incompetent slug struts around with the body of Willie Randolph interred beneath the terrazo of the manager’s office?
    .
    And yes, being shipped to the Mutts may well have been Frenchie’s punishment – but frankly, having Frenchie shipped to them was, in a lot of ways, part of Jerry Manuel’s just desserts as well.

  13. Kevin S. - Aug 11, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    One could say they deserve each other.

  14. BC - Aug 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Actually, I think you guys are right. Manuel SHOULD play him more. Every inning. And bat him leadoff. Anything to make my team stink even worse so as to ensure the entire coaching staff and front office are out on the street the day after the season ends.

  15. The Rabbit - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Who would (note I said would, not should) give Frenchy a starting job? Dayton Moore might still have the mancrush.

  16. Kevin S. - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Why else do you think he’d cut bait on Jose Guillen?

  17. geoknows - Aug 11, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Dayton Moore was involved in drafting Francoeur but has said repeatedly that he is not interested in picking him up for the Royals.
    Besides, the role Frenchy would take on the Royals is being more than adequately filled by Yuniesky Betancourt.

  18. Gobias Industries - Aug 11, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    No way that WSJ story you linked to is meant to be taken seriously. Completely tongue-in-cheek. Check your BS detector.

  19. nps6724 - Aug 11, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Pendleton has had far more hitters perform better under him than they did elsewhere than he has had failures.

  20. john j pileggi - Aug 12, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    There is another disaster of a year for the Mets. EVERYONE is miserable. Frenchie will not be back and is playing for a contract with someone else. I have read many times that he is well liked in the clubhouse, so I would guess that a guy who has an agent going public with a trade or playing time request, but who has not alienated his teammates is probably a good guy.

  21. ScottBravesfan - Aug 12, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Are you serious? Francoeur was booed all the time in Atlanta. The fans gave him more of a chance because of his first two seasons in the big leagues and the fact that he was from Metro Atlanta. Yunel Escobar was a fan favorite too. He never got booed until the end when he kept making stupid plays and not hustling. Atlanta is one of the least racist places, hell the city is like 70% black and there are a ton of hispanics as well in the city. The city of Atlanta hasn’t had a white mayor since the 70s, how many non white mayors has New York City had? How many women have been mayor of NYC? The city of Atlanta just had a black woman for mayor for the last 8 years. And if you think Braves fans have a problem with Hispanic players, then why in the hell was Javy Lopez treated like a god? He put up terrible numbers and got the loudest cheers at Turner Field when he was announced as a player. Why is Martin Prado suddenly become the cult hero of the team? Francoeur was an arrogant player who never learned to work a count and take a walk but that is no reason to rip on the city of Atlanta and make comparisons to Yunel Escobar situation. Completely different situations and the only real comparisons are that Francoeur was actually booed when coming up to bat before he was traded from Atlanta while Escobar was not. The only time Escobar was booed was when he made some terrible play and was not hustling, yet he was still cheered when he came up to bat.
    And Braves fans have started booing Troy Glaus recently too. Is that because the city doesn’t like white players?

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