Kansas City Royals Sign Jeff Francis: Can He Be An Ace?

Bill RobbinsCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

The Royals are hoping newly acquired lefty starter Jeff Francis can have a bounce back season in '11.
The Royals are hoping newly acquired lefty starter Jeff Francis can have a bounce back season in '11.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals made some surprising news earlier today as they announced the signing of free agent and former Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis.

On one side, the move makes sense because KC needs immediate help in their starting rotation, after losing former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke via trade and not resigning veteran Brian Bannister for next season.

Francis also has some upside to him, as he went 17-9 back in '07 as he helped lead the Rockies to a World Series birth later that year.

On the other side of this deal, you can see that Francis has only pitched in 20 games combined during the last two seasons due to surgery on his left arm before the '09 season.

I think the real question with this signing is can he be an ace for this mostly unproven starting rotation?

The answer is still unknown, but most signs point to us for this to happen.

If you take a deeper look at Francis' short six-year career in the majors, you will find that he has been an ace for three of those years, of half of his pro career.

Something else important to note will be the inexperience of the Royals '11 starting rotation, with presumptive starters Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O'Sullivan having a combined eight years of major league experience under the belts.

This staff seems that is in dire need of a player like Jeff Francis coming in and giving some much needed competition to an under-performing group of pitcher such as the injury-riddled Gil Meche.

This signing also shows us that Royal GM Dayton Moore is content on signing guys to cheap, short-term deals until he gets his draft picks up from the farm.

Adding Francis will only improve the overall level of talent for the current Royals' roster and give the Royals another solid arm in the rotation.

However, will it turn out to be a good signing?

At this point yes, but we still have the entire '11 season to find that out.