Jeff Francoeur: Loyalty Doesn't Win Championships

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IJune 2, 2009

PHOENIX - MAY 30:  Jeff Francoeur #7 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on May 30, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.The Diamondbacks defeated the Braves 3-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I consider myself a fairly faithful fan.

I can stick with a player through both good and bad times.

I've often told my wife that being a fan of any sports team...a REAL fan, is kind of like marriage.  You are tied to that team for life.  Through winning season, championships, last place finishes...and even the strike in 1994, you stay faithful to them.

On top of that, you love the players.  Just like in marriage, you have some individual qualities that are your favorite.  For Braves fans, you love Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann.

You are never going to like every quality about your spouse.  Some Braves fans might not be thrilled with Jordan Schafer's OBP or the fact that Garret Anderson only has one homer so far this season.

But just like in marriage, you love them for their great characteristics, and even the shortcomings.

Jeff Francoeur is one of my favorite players.

If he quit baseball today, even with the low numbers he has now, I'd still love him.

However, loyalty doesn't win championships...only the Chicago Cubs are content with being a losing franchise.

Just like in marriage, you want the best for your spouse.  I want the Braves to do well, especially in the form of a World Series title.

As much as I hate to say it, what's best for the Braves might be decreasing Jeff Francoeur's role in the Braves lineup.

If this means a trade, so be it.  My preference would be to hold on to him and either move him to the minors or use him in a part-time role off the bench.

Right now, the only guy in the Braves outfield I'm happy with is Matt Diaz.  Quite honestly, I think before we make a trade we need to see if we can improve from within.

(Don't get me started on Tommy Hanson, you know where I stand on him...he should be in the bigs today!)

Brandon Jones is truly an athlete.  When filling in for Garret Anderson he went .308 with a .471 OBP.  At Triple-A Gwinnett he's hitting .300 with a .393 OBP .  He's also stolen three bases which no one on the big league roster has done.  He could even be a decent option leading off in the absence of Omar Infante.

Call me crazy, but should we send Schafer back down or even bench him in favor of Gregor Blanco?  Blanco has hit .350 in his last 10 games.  He has also driven in eight runs in that 10-game span.  His defense was decent when he played for us last year, and it could be good to let him take the burden off of Schafer.

...I'd even consider a platoon in centerfield of Francoeur and Schafer if it would help the struggling sluggers.

What are some trade possibilities that yours truly would like?

Do you think it is possible to pry Adam Dunn from the Nationals?  I wonder if they might like a package of Jeff Francoeur and some above average prospects for the slugger?  I know they still think their franchise is in buying mode...but they need to be stockpiling prospects.

Mark Derosa has come up in conversation before.  I'd love to have him back in our lineup, but not for the price we'd have to pay.  I still don't look at him as a solid everyday player like he has become for other teams, but the idea is growing on me.

...Another idea for the Braves to increase their outfield production is this...

Play in Yankee stadium...or even build a new stadium that the wind always blows out.  Then we'd be the "Braves Bombers".

I'm just kidding...but that stadium has really made the Yankees look like their all hitting on steroids...oh wait, most of them are!

Look for talks including Francoeur to heat up more than they already are.  I think he'll go to the Boston Red Sox, the Kansas City Royals, or some unforseen team.

If we keep him, I'm ok with that, but it is time to realize that he isn't good enough to warrant starting everyday as of today...but I hold out hope that this situation improves for "Frenchy".