The Newest New York Met, Jeff Francoeur: The Good and Bad

Hot Stove New YorkSenior Writer IJuly 11, 2009

Jeff Francoeur is a Met. I’m not sure I like the sound of that, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it.

He's the latest in a long line of Braves who became Mets, some good, some bad, that means you, Tom Glavine,: Warren Spahn, Jim Beauchamp, Felix Millan, George Stone, Joe Torre, Willie Montanez, Brett Butler, Greg McMichael, Julio Franco, Jorge Sosa, Gary Sheffield.

Who’s next? A 40-year-old Chipper Jones? This is one of those change-of-scenery deals, but will it change Francoeur’s knowledge of the strike zone? The Mets needed to do something, and this may just be the beginning. Ryan Church had trouble staying on the field, and even when healthy wasn’t highly thought of by the Mets hierarchy for whatever reason.

Here are five things to like about the deal and five things not to like:



1. Francoeur is five-and-a-half years younger than Church. He’s younger than David Wright and Jose Reyes. He may be a reclamation project, but at least he’s not a 35-year-old reclamation project.

2. He’s not a rental. The Mets didn’t have to give up any prospects for him. Church is probably not in the Mets’ long-term plans. Do they even have any long-term plans?Francoeur’s in the Mets’ control for two more years after this one.

So for good or bad, he’s your Mets right fielder for the next two-and-a-half years.

3. He comes with everybody’s favorite word: Upside. He could have peaked at 23-years-old, but if he actually makes an attempt to improve his game, he has a much higher ceiling than Church. He’s driven in 100 runs twice and has hit as many as 29 homers in a season. Church’s best power numbers were in 2007, when he hit fifteen home runs and drove in seventy.

4. Francoeur is much more durable than Church. He appeared in 162 games twice in his career, and last year played in 155. Church’s best year was in ‘07, appearing in 144. Other than that, he has only played over 100 games one other time (102 in ‘05).

Of course Jerry Manuel wouldn’t let Church play in every game, fair or not, but you know Francoeur will be in the lineup every day.

5. Francoeur is a right-handed hitter. The Mets are overloaded with lefties, so he’s a much-needed righty bat. And he offers more of a power threat batting behind Wright. He has 78 career homers and 359 RBI’s, compared to 49 and 224 for Church (though he’s played in more games—631 to 504, but Church came up to the majors a year earlier, so again, Francoeur is more durable).



1. Francoeur is a bad hitter. His on-base-percentage is pathetic, and his strike zone recognition doesn’t exist.

2. He has upside, but he may never get there. It’s very possible he could be terrible for the rest of his career. Church is what he is by now, but he’s a much more rounded hitter than Francoeur. Church’s numbers are better than Francoeur’s—.273/.345/.444 to .266/.308/.424.

3. Church is a better fielder. Francoeur has a stronger arm, but Church’s arm is not chopped liver. No matter what Omar Minaya says, Church is the better fielder whatever stat you want use. Church has made seven career errors to Francoeur’s twenty three, and Church’s fielding percentage is .993 to Francoeur’s .983. And Church’s Zone Rating is much better, though I don’t have that stat at the tip of my fingers.

4. He’s a former Brave. Rooting for Glavine was bad enough, now this guy? He was also, the hometwon hero. The Braves must have soured on him tremendously to give up on a 25-year-old Georgian.

5. His nickname is Frenchy.