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Frank Wren Sends Jordan Schafer Down, Gives Jeff Francoeur Reason To Play Better

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 5:  Jeff Francoeur #7 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by first base coach Glenn Hubbard #17 after Francoeur beat out a bunt single in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2005 National League Divison Series on October 5, 2005 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IJune 3, 2009

Gregor Blanco is up, and Jordan Schafer is down.

I love Schafer. He's got a cannon for an arm, all the speed you can hope for, and will one day have the bat to match.

Frank Wren has made the right call here, Braves fans. Schafer is our centerfielder of the future, but in order to make sure it's a bright future, he needs to develop more at the minor league level.

Gregor Blanco will be a great addition to a Braves team that is making a push for playoffs this season.

While we needed the change in centerfield, I think the best part of this move is how it gives another struggling Brave outfielder some incentive to play better.

I wrote yesterday how Jeff Francoeur's struggles should no longer go unnoticed.  However, I more than anyone want Francoeur to hit a few homers and raise his average a bit in order to force the Braves to keep his bat in the lineup.

"Frenchy" has been struggling a lot lately in pressure situations. He of course adjusted his stance in the offseason, but said that often when the pressure is on, the new stance doesn't stick and he goes back to his bad habits.

Last night, Francoeur went 1-for-3 with a homer.  That stat line doesn't say it all though.

The home run he hit was when the Braves were down by two runs and had two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Not only did he hit a homer, he also tied the ball game with the pressure on to send the Braves to extra innings.

I think we forget that the Georgia native is only 25 and that he is still maturing.

I think last night's win was worth more than just a "W" in the win column. The Braves were down by five runs against a Cubs team that, while not great, is one of the better teams in baseball.

The fact is the Braves were dead in the water until Chipper got a single in the bottom of the seventh.

Randy Wells pitched a great game, but the Braves hitters hung in there long enough to take advantage of the Cubs' weak bullpen.

What surprised me the most was the struggles of Carlos Marmol. He is struggling to find the plate after being an excellent option for the Cubs out of the bullpen all season long.

Finally in the bottom of the 12th inning, Yunel Escobar got on base with a single and then stole second base. Chipper Jones came to the plate and finished what he started in the seventh inning with a walk-off base hit to left field.

This win could be the turning point for the Braves' 2009 campaign. It could most certainly be the turnaround for Francoeur's young career, as he had all the pressure in the world on his shoulders in the ninth inning and came through.

Look for Francoeur to do a little more damage as he looks to resurrect his career and hold his spot in right field for the team he grew up idolizing.

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