I need to forget the Chart of the Day more often.
I was expecting the inevitable Braves release of Jeff Francoeur to be an addition-by-subtraction kind of event where the team just let him go over the offseason and expected to get better, if only because there was nowhere to go but up. Seriously, Jeff Francoeur has been that bad for the last year and a half. Whatever power he displayed in ’05-’06 disappeared, and his dreadful lack of plate discipline has never improved.
Some will probably contend that there’s talent to be uncovered in Francoeur’s bat, but he had more than worn out his welcome in my book. They don’t put OBP on the scoreboard, so it doesn’t matter? That kind of attitude represents a pretty stark contrast to the kind picture being painted by the Atlanta media, which I guess is understandable for a hometown guy. Deep down, I think he’s a decent guy who legitimately thinks he’s better off because he doesn’t care what people think about him, but his willful ignorance about what makes a hitter productive ended up costing him his career in Atlanta.
Coming to Atlanta in return is an actual decent baseball player named Ryan Church. A lefty with moderate power, Church is pretty much the definition of a league-average hitter. His production isn’t what you’d hope for in a corner outfield spot, and he’s having a down year, but Church is unquestionably a better baseball player than Jeff Francoeur. That may even be an understatement.
The Braves have also sent the Mets some cash to make up for the difference in the two players’ salaries. Church will be a free agent after 2010, at which point the Braves are probably hoping for Jason Heyward (newly minted as Baseball America’s #1 MLB prospect) to be an outfield regular. Kudos to Frank Wren for completing another solid trade.