Francoeur needs to take a hint or he’ll go nowhere in career

0829_largeLet me start by saying that for as much as he was ridiculed and lampooned during his spectacular crash with the Braves — and later in his many miserable months as a New York Met — former hometown hero Jeff Francoeur is one of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet. He’s one of the finest all-around athletes you’re going to find in baseball, or any pro sport.

But one day in the midst of Francoeur-mania here in Atlanta, when the lower profile of the Braves’ two whiz kids, Brian McCann, was just starting to ascend, hitting coach Terry Pendleton said something to me: “I think we’ve all been paying attention to the wrong guy.”

Francoeur, once projected to be a franchise staple in right field for the Braves, like Dale Murphy, was traded for the second time in 13 months Tuesday night when the Mets dealt him to the Texas Rangers. He is a perfect illustration of how talent, energy and effort doesn’t guarantee success. He was hitting only .237 with the Mets, after actually having a career rebound following the trade to New York in July of 2009 (hitting .311 after starting the year .250 with the Braves).

Francoeur is still young enough (26) and certainly talented enough to have a solid career. But he has two significant problems he needs to fix:

♦ 1.) He’s hard-headed. He’s immature. For as good a guy as he is, he had a difficult time taking advice from Braves teammates and coaches. He never learned patience. The result was him trying to battle out of a slump himself. He pressed. Daily. Baseball can afford a hitter four chances a night and 24 to 28 in a week to break out of a slump. But that’s also more opportunities to go borderline psycho if an athlete doesn’t handle situations correctly. Francoeur didn’t handle things correctly. He opted for psycho.

♦ 2.) Francoeur’s representation has been poor. Baseball players don’t have salary leverage early in their careers. They must take what teams give them and wait until arbitration rights come around. McCann and his agent did so without a peep. Then  in 2007, the Braves gave him a six-year contract. Conversely, Francoeur received bad advice from his agent, Molly Fletcher. They were unhappy with the Braves’ annual offers. Braves’ management rolled their eyes.

Then a few weeks ago, when Francoeur was being platooned, Fletcher actually requested a trade from the Mets, telling the Newark Star-Ledger: “We want to play every day.”

You want to make your client look bad real quick? Request a trade when he’s in a 15-for-88 slump.

Francoeur’s career is dropping parts on the highway. It’s not what anybody envisioned when he appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover five years ago this week. But guys labeled, “The Natural,” generally have more than talent.

LogoGrass_652173aHave you entered the “Sack Schultz” contest yet? You can win tickets to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game and an HDTV. CLICK HERE for details.

Last 3 episodes on instant re-post . . .

Aaron Murray will give Georgia what it has been missing

McGarity: It’s ‘unfair’ to give coach specific win mandate

McDavid’s win is painful reminder of Atlanta Spirit’s birth

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

175 comments Add your comment

Rusty

September 1st, 2010
8:59 am

BravesFan2010

September 1st, 2010
9:00 am

He needs a big slice of humble pie. I really hope he gets it together.

Not Don Waddell

September 1st, 2010
9:02 am

Just like George Lombard, he should have played football.

hammerhead

September 1st, 2010
9:05 am

Sad to see. Hopefully, this stop with the Rangers will be a turning point for Francoeur – You’re on the mark with this one, Jeff. Maybe he’ll opt for different representation and his career will make a turn for the better.

LT

September 1st, 2010
9:07 am

@BravesFan2010 don’t judge a guys character by his agent, they don’t always go hand in hand.

Matt_t

September 1st, 2010
9:07 am

So much attention is still played to an OF who is replacement level at best. I dont’ really understand it at this point. He’s now two teams removed from here. I know he went to high school here but so did many other players (Brandon Phillips, Corey Patterson to name a couple) who don’t have their every move reported on.

I agree with you Jeff, but it seems like he still hasn’t realized he’s not a star

Navigator

September 1st, 2010
9:08 am

He’s uncoachable, and the reason why doesn’t really matter. He’s not selective, doesn’t know the strike stone, and he swings too hard on breaking balls, missing or mishitting most of them. Reputation at the plate follows him everywhere he goes, and when the book on his hitting is written, only he can change the information. Once again, the guy with the most press coming up, is seldom the guy who goes to Cooperstown.

Tate

September 1st, 2010
9:08 am

He probably would’ve been a stellar QB! But for Frenchy, it’s just been a reluctance to make adjustments at the plate. There’s a big difference between AAAAA High School pitching and Big League pitching. No adjustments + hardhead = .235

bufbox

September 1st, 2010
9:15 am

Not Don Wadell … Baseball was his best bet as a pro. How many white DB’s make the NFL? … very few for whatever reason.
I like Jeff… hope he turns it around.

Smack

September 1st, 2010
9:16 am

right field

September 1st, 2010
9:17 am

I will take our new hard working rightfielder over Frenchy everyday. Alot of it comes from where they grew up and how they were brought up. Frenchy from Gwinett County and Parkveiw when they were a dynasty in every sport. Heyward from south Henry County. Frenchy was rewarded with praise at an early age and had a football scholarship and baseball carrer handed to him at an early age. Heyward focused on one sport and with the help of his family drove an hour and half everday to “work” on his life goal, baseball. (I wouldn’t drive from McDonough to East Cobb everyday on a bet.) Heyward worked in the shadows until his senior year. Frenchy was the face of high school sports for a couple of years. His enflated perception of his own talent is a by product of the spotlight he received at such an early age. Now, ESPN now wants to cram little league baseball and high school football down our throats. Problem might only get worse in coming years. Go Braves good luck Frenchy.

Jeff Schultz

September 1st, 2010
9:19 am

Not Don Waddell — Jeff definitely still has a football player’s mentality.

Jeff Schultz

September 1st, 2010
9:21 am

Right field — Working hard isn’t an issue for Francoeur. It’s working smart.

Tim Tebow's Tears

September 1st, 2010
9:22 am

I’ve personally met him and not just casually, he’s not a good person. He cheated on his fiance at the time and acts extremely immature. I hope he gets it together for the sake of his family and talents he’s been given.

BugKiller

September 1st, 2010
9:23 am

In the realm of sports regrets, just how much does Francoeur regret not going to Clemson to play football?

I mean, as immature and stubborn as he is, who knows if he would have succeeded there, either, but football coaches have a way of breaking you down, almost like a military drill instructor, and then building you back up to become a useful part of the team.

I think for many in Atlanta, Francoeur lost us when he bitched and moaned and cried to the media about being sent down to the minors when we ALL saw that would be the best thing for him and the team at the time. That’s probably when he also lost Bobby Cox, too.

BugKiller

September 1st, 2010
9:27 am

TTT, salacious details aside, Jeff Francoeur always came off to me as the jerk-hole high school guy who was a big thing and got away with everything in high school because of his athletic abilities.

Parkview seems to turn out a BUNCH of these kind of guys.

While BMac seems like the guy who really is down to earth.

Jim

September 1st, 2010
9:27 am

if ANYONE can turn the kid around it will be Texas’ hitting coach. That man is awesome. Didn’t he get andrew over the mendoza line?

T-Bone

September 1st, 2010
9:30 am

Teabows’ Tears — Please be careful what you say. It is not appropriate to plaster your “knowledge” of Jeff’s supposed cheating on his fiance on this blog. Without proof, this feels too much like slander.

Webster Riverside

September 1st, 2010
9:31 am

******BREAKING NEWS******
This just in. He’s just not a very good hitter.

Tim Tebow's Tears

September 1st, 2010
9:34 am

T-Bone- Agreed. I shouldn’t get too detailed. I was merely trying to point out he should change and I hope he will…

Carlos

September 1st, 2010
9:35 am

I think #2 is what help Frenchy fail. Instead of accepting the initial offer from the Braves and then playing his way to a bigger payday, he got greedy, asked for more, put himself under unnecessary pressure and he stunk. Then he had the audacity of asking for a raise after batting around .228. Bad way of handling things and it has continued to haunt him. look at McCann. accepted the Braves offer and had that off of his head. No pressure.

Herschel Talker

September 1st, 2010
9:35 am

Schultzie:

He’s stubborn. Plain and simple. Until he humbles himself, he’ll always be wasted talent.

HT

dap01

September 1st, 2010
9:35 am

He is a 5 tool player without the speed, average and power.

Jeff summed it up well.

Tami

September 1st, 2010
9:35 am

I agree, Jeff, with the entire article as well as your blog comment: “Working smart”. That would apply to anyone wishing to excel in anything. I do hope Jeff drops his agent and gets a capable one (anyone other than Boras), and implements any advice offered him. He’s a good guy, but is still a kid on the inside. A little humility and a little maturity will drop-kick that out of him. I wish him well. What a drastic change for him: Going from a non-contender to a contender in a matter of a couple of hours! Not many players with his inconsistent stats get that kind of opportunity. Just glad he’s not a Met anymore. He sure can hit the Braves…geesh!

Zach Johnson

September 1st, 2010
9:36 am

When you base a guy’s career expectations on what he did in high school, its a pretty safe bet you’ll be let down. Great story and I coulf not agree more. Now its time for a story on Kelly “wet blanket” Johnson aka Mr. Potential.

ICEMANcometh10

September 1st, 2010
9:39 am

PRIDE always before the fall……………………….

ATL Sports

September 1st, 2010
9:40 am

Rudy Jaramillo, the Texas Rangers hitting coach that worked with andrew and others is now with the Cubs.

Willy

September 1st, 2010
9:41 am

He has a good arm. That’s about all he has going for him.

GT BABY

September 1st, 2010
9:43 am

JEFF SUCKS, NEVER LIKED HIM! ( HAS A GREAT ARM THOUGH )

Barton

September 1st, 2010
9:50 am

Good article Schultzy. I was actually having this exact conversation with a friend last night when they started talking about the trade to the Rangers during the game. Isn’t Frenchy in tight with the Rangers’ hitting coach? Can’t say I’m too excited about a guy who’s been a major disappointment getting an opportunity to play for a World Series, but who am I to wish bad things on nice people. Can’t wait for Freeman!

Hot Phone Sex Princess

September 1st, 2010
9:50 am

Lousy tipper.

SenseiKreese

September 1st, 2010
9:50 am

“Molly”? Who has a female agent? That’s the problem.

Sonny Clusters

September 1st, 2010
10:03 am

Proximity to Dairy Queens is very good now.

Ralph

September 1st, 2010
10:07 am

How does he rebuild into “a solid career” when his biggest asset (his arm) is benched as a lousy pinch hitter against lefties?

PMC

September 1st, 2010
10:07 am

Isn’t Jaramillo still with Texas? This is good for Frenchy.

11 outfield assists say he still plays really well defensively.

PMC

September 1st, 2010
10:08 am

Someone might need to tell his agent to freaking pipe down though. Wow is she bad for his PR.

Just Wondering

September 1st, 2010
10:08 am

Jeff Francoeur fell victim to hype. Pure and simple. When he stepped on a MLB diamond for the first time, he immediately bought in to the accolades and stopped working to improve and grow. He thought he was a guarantee just like the media did. He enjoyed success in his first couple of years, but then got lazy and acquired a higher opinion of himself than the numbers warranted. And apparently he still hasn’t learned – you’re not going to play everyday by hitting .235 with little production – and you’re not entitled to just because you were once proclaimed a “can’t miss.” Dale Murphy won the MVP in 1982 – and then proceeded to play winter call to work on his hitting. That’s how good player becomes great, and in the process gains a lot of resepct.

PMC

September 1st, 2010
10:09 am

If my agent cost me 25 million…. I think I’d be looking for a new agent.

Sam

September 1st, 2010
10:11 am

Molly??? LOL!! That sums it all up.

Braveforlife

September 1st, 2010
10:11 am

A friend of mine had a son on the various teams at Parkview with Frenchy. He’s always talking about how great Frenchy was at Parkview as if that will translate to MLB! Bradley stated that during Frenchy’s senior year, he was 1 for 7 in the championship game, the one hit being a homerun. That has been Frenchy’s MO since coming into the Braves system. Swing hard, just in case you hit something…unfortunately he doesn’t ‘hit something’ very often and seemingly has no interest in changing. I’m afraid he’ll be another 30 something with no college degree in a few years.

Jonas Grumby

September 1st, 2010
10:14 am

MattT … It’s news because Frenchy played for the Braves, was productive for them, and was thought to be a franchise player. Those other guys (and there are a ton of them) didn’t play here. Plus, he’s still young enough to turn his career back around. But Jeff is dead on about both of those problems.

Paddy

September 1st, 2010
10:14 am

Bug Killer….Being a jerk does not hurt you in baseball. Being a stubborn jerk will send you to the house. Good jerks; Ty Cobb, Milt Pappas, Thurman Munson, Doc Ellis, Spaceman Bill Lee to name just a few.

Dawg Fud

September 1st, 2010
10:15 am

I disagree that he should have played football. He has great baseball talent, just having a hard time putting it into action.

I hope he gets it figured out and crushes it.

adam

September 1st, 2010
10:15 am

its not the agents fault.

DirtybyrdATL4life

September 1st, 2010
10:17 am

I played with this guy @ Parkview on the baseball & football team…he’s an awesome athlete & talent…but in tlking to a recent coach of my old high school, he said Jeff hasnt changed his ways one bit…this was in HIGH SCHOOL people. He needs to eat a whole humble pie, drink a glass of decency milk, & get his Sugar Honey Ice Tea 2gether!

But Most importantly, GO BRAVES!

Alphare

September 1st, 2010
10:18 am

I don’t really mean pointing fingers at his parents, the year before, they were on TV like crazy. It’s like Frenchy was some big star with a meager 2 years of service. I was thinking, man, this is still early, he is not a star yet like Chipper.

Joey

September 1st, 2010
10:22 am

Jeff, isn’t the hitting coach who helped Frenchy before the ‘09 season still with the Rangers? If so, maybe he can get him back on track.

PMC

September 1st, 2010
10:24 am

This is outhouse to the penthouse for Jeff. This is fantastic. He gets another shot at the postseason. If he gets on a hot streak watch out. He’s just got to get the average up to everyday major leaguer quality. If he can hit .275 over the course of a year he’ll be golden again.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 1st, 2010
10:29 am

“We want to play every day.”

Get on base and you’ll play everyday. The difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter is 1 hit a week, 5-20, as opposed to 6-20. The little things really do matter.

Jeff, isn’t the hitting coach who helped Frenchy before the ‘09 season still with the Rangers?

No, Rudy Jaramillo is with the Cubs and they haven’t exactly torn the cover off the ball, this year. That’s not a knock on Rudy but the Hitting Coach doesn’t get any at bats. The players have to do it themselves.

ed simmons

September 1st, 2010
10:41 am

His career may not be going great right now but he has made more money all ready than most of us can dream about. Terry P has been a big part of his problem.