All-Trade Friday: Should the Braves deal Jeff Francoeur?

I thought it would work. I thought Jeff Francoeur would remember how to hit and the masses would forget he’d forgotten and all would be bliss for the hometown kid and the team of his dreams. But it’s not working, and I’ve come to believe it won’t.

Too much has happened. He got too big too fast. It wasn’t his fault. He was great from the moment of his big-league arrival in July 2005 and we — meaning the fans and the media and the Braves themselves — loved him and reveled in every detail of his charmed young life. But then, after two mostly solid full seasons, he stopped hitting. And everything changed.

Francoeur was upset when the Braves sent him to Class AA on the Fourth of July. “I don’t think there’s any way I can [feel as warmly toward the organization] 100 percent,” he said in February. “I want to play here forever; I’ve said that all along. But the business part of it is different.”

The Braves weren’t thrilled when Francoeur went to Texas to work with Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. Said Terry Pendleton, the Braves’ hitting coach: “I asked Jeff, ‘Why didn’t you come to me?’ Obviously he felt the need to go elsewhere. It’s his winter. [But] it bugged me at first. Not hearing it from him, that got me more than anything. I told him, ‘I thought our relationship was better than that.’ ”

Should Braves trade Jeff Francoeur?

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Where once there was sunshine, there’s distrust and frustration. The Braves wonder if Francoeur can be coached. Francoeur wonders if the Braves have his best interests at heart. He tries too hard and falls back on bad habits. The Braves drop him in the order and struggle to be patient. And here he is, batting. 245 with a microscopic on-base percentage of .280. He’s on pace to finish with 11 homers and 71 RBIs — same as he did last year.

I thought it would work, but it isn’t working and I don’t believe it will again. Francoeur and the Braves need fresh starts. He needs to go somewhere where every swing and miss doesn’t stir civic angst. The Braves need a right fielder whose persona doesn’t outstrip production. Both parties need to breathe deeply again.

I would hate it if Francoeur played elsewhere. I’ve known him since he was a junior at Parkview — he remains the greatest high school football player I’ve seen in 25 years at the AJC — and he’s a fine fellow who tries to accommodate everyone. But I’d hate it more to see this psychodrama drag into August and beyond. It’s time for both sides to cut their losses. It’s time to trade Frenchy.

What could the Braves get for him? Probably not all that much, but that’s not really the point . They’d be better off without him, and he without them. He could slip into another uniform and be someone other than the homegrown Golden Child. He could relax. He could just go play ball again, as opposed to feeling compelled to sign every autograph and pose for every picture.

I am, as we know, wrong about everything, and I wouldn’t mind being wrong about this. I’d love to see Francoeur become the Francoeur we all thought he’d be, but the time for that seems past. I don’t see a happy ending for this player in this city with this team. Wish I did, but I don’t.

Other installments: Should the Thrashers trade Ilya Kovalchuk? And also: Should the Hawks trade Josh Smith?

476 comments Add your comment

Sirmonator

June 12th, 2009
7:10 am

Mark,
You are far from wrong. I completely agree with you assessment. It’s definitely time to part ways, which would be good for both sides. Even if Jeff becomes “good” again, it will never happen here and hopefully management realizes that.

RHR

June 12th, 2009
7:27 am

Should the Braves deal Jeff Francoeur?

For the love of God, YES! I can’t wait for the day the long and painful Jeff Francoeur experiment is mercifully over.

ND

June 12th, 2009
7:41 am

If they can’t get anything for him, and we know they can’t, then send his arse to AAA the rest of the season.

BJE

June 12th, 2009
7:52 am

“He needs to go somewhere where every swing and miss doesn’t stir civic angst.”

These are the best words written or spoken about this matter. Read the comments above and the ones sure to be spoken below. People obsess over this subject. The Braves have bigger problems than Frenchy, but sadly we live in a message board/talk radio culture. The biggest downfall of these two mediums is the following, very predictable cycle.

A narrative is manufactured (don’t think the AJC and the sports radio guys aren’t aware of what topics drive ratings,) the fans are flamed and then groupthink occurs. I can’t wait to hear the descriptions of Francoeur such as “painful” emerge below.

At this point Jeff is a moderately paid outfielder going through a swing change and producing moderate results. Or, to hear some, he is the root of all evil in Atlanta and should be publicly stoned.

Truly pathetic, but I can’t wait to see what is written. Let the herd commence all saying the same thing.

Brian

June 12th, 2009
7:54 am

Good column and good call. Most of us still hope that he’ll do well and any day that he gets two hits, as he did yesterday, gives us reason to believe. However, what the Braves need is more consistency in terms of power and average; at least someone with a 350+ OBP. I’m a realist, though- what can you get for him??

Caleb

June 12th, 2009
7:57 am

If the majority of the lineup is struggling at the plate, perhaps Jeff is not the problem. Maybe the Braves organization in general needs to put more emphasis on hitting. Maybe they just need to shake up the old guard and bring in some new faces with fresh ideas…no disrepect to the legends (i.e.: Shurholtz, Cox and Pendleton). They’ve relied on good pitching for so long, and they may be a bit too focused on that aspect of the game. I’m a Red Sox fan and wouldn’t mind seeing him up in Boston with Smoltz. It could happen. Being an Atlantan by birth though, I’d sorta like to see the hometown kid become a legend here. I’m pulling for Franceour regardless.

[...] Mark Bradley | ajc.com – [...]

Big Al

June 12th, 2009
8:02 am

As stated above, the entire Braves starting line up is struggling at the plate. Could the problem be Terry Pendleton?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 12th, 2009
8:02 am

Couple of things, first JF has no value at this point, so a trade is not going to net much. And he won’t go to AAA and if he did, how is that going to help without a hitting coach. In Jeff’s defense, this lays at the feet of Pendelton. The only hitters we have (Chipper & McCan) have dad’s as hitting instructors. I don’t blame Jeff for going to the Texas hitting coach. He made a millionaire out of Derosa, Hamilton, Kinsler, Young, Blalock and this year Cruz along with everyone else he comes into contact with. Even Andruw is batting .250. We need to trade for Rudy Jaramillo.

Rich

June 12th, 2009
8:08 am

They should not trade Frenchy. He hustles which is more than can be said for Garrett Anderson. The batting order from 5 through 8 are not productive. And the common denominator for them all is Terry Pendleton.

Nativebird

June 12th, 2009
8:08 am

Trade’s are not the end all to be all…a trade for trades sake is THE worst thing any GM could possibly do. A trade (with ANY player) is only worth considering when there is something more valuable (real or percieved)to get in return.
At present, we’re simply not going to get anything better. Alas, your other options are better, sit, train, teach, change, send down, send up, send out for Chinese for goodness sake. Not like you have a whole lot of money in him, some, but not like the bank.
I’ll say this again. I’d trade TERRY PENDLETON before I’d trade the hitters he has NOT been able to help. no question, THE WOST hitting coach in the Major leagues. What a Joke.

Ward Cleaver, Beaver's Dad

June 12th, 2009
8:10 am

Bleu_Bayou42

June 12th, 2009
8:18 am

I agree 100%, I don’t think we can get a bag of balls for Frenchy right now. I think we are looking at an outright release.

the truth...

June 12th, 2009
8:20 am

AAA is the answer for now. There is no point in giving him away, he might as well be in Gwinnett. That way he can go thru what most players go through and get his head on straight. Then he’ll be ready for the show.

He has always been the Golden One….let him earn it again like he did on the high school level…then he’ll be the ballplayer he can be….

Let that be his Paris Island….then he’ll be able to function again with confidence…

Don’t give away that past number one pick for nothing…

Mike Hunt

June 12th, 2009
8:22 am

Trade him? For what? A bag of baseballs. No team in their right mind will give the Braves anything of value for him. Until this team addresses the black holes that exist at 1B,2B,LF, and RF, they will be nothing more than mediocre.

K Ku

June 12th, 2009
8:27 am

Watch Thursday game with the Pirates. He was the only light in the loss.

Joeschmo

June 12th, 2009
8:29 am

Yes… get rid of the pampered head case… and McJerk as well. Then we’ll be on the road to success… not sub-par mediocrity of which both track records reflect.

Meat Rabbit

June 12th, 2009
8:30 am

Mr MB, the Meat Rabbit is happy to have Friday off from work and is looking forward to blogging with you today. My opinion is heck no they shouldn’t trade JF…..SI cover boys only come around ever so often. Seriously, what value does he have? And I guess that is a question for Frank Wren. I would not give JF away, period. If we are out of this race when the trade deadline approaches, and we get approached by (or if we approach) a contending team and can get a couple of top notch prospects (hitters) for him, then FW should consider it. If we get minimal value in return, then I say to keep him and try harder to get his stuff straight. Where is that psychologist that worked with Smoltz years ago?

billy stover.

June 12th, 2009
8:32 am

It looks like the whole team needs to go down to triple AAA.I wouldn’t go to a braves game if the tickets were free.These players show no hustle what so ever, why do they care, they get paid win or lose.

Jack Daniels

June 12th, 2009
8:33 am

Frenchy needs to go, Terry needs to go, Kelly needs to go, and dare I say it… Bobby needs to go…

Bobby Cox is da man!!!

June 12th, 2009
8:33 am

Hitting major league pitching is all about adjustments. The pitchers adjust to the hitters then the hitters must adjust as well. Guys that get by on raw talent do not always succeed at the major league level (remember Brad Kominsk). What would be so wrong with another trip to the minors in an attempt to make him adjust. Let’s see if he can figure it out there. Learning on the fly on the major league roster just isn’t working for him.

the truth...

June 12th, 2009
8:37 am

I emailed Dave O’brien a couple of weeks ago about the psychologist, Jack Llewelyn. Dave says that he has been sick and not very active. Apparently he has MS and has more important things to do than worry about a bunch of spoiled millionaires playing a kids game….

Hey maybe that is it….Jeff boy needs to remember that this isn’t life and death….it’s a kids game….then he’ll relax and have fun again…

NC Braves Fan

June 12th, 2009
8:37 am

Mark – this is a terrific post, and I hope that people can set their hostility for Jeff aside – and read the words you’ve written.

Read. The. Words.

Set the business considerations aside. This is a human story now and I think it is time to trade or DFA Frenchy to allow him to move on with his life and career. For both sides, it’s likely to be a win-win.

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
8:40 am

yea, sure blame Terry Pendleton for the braves not being able to hit….when does the blame ever fall on the actual hitter who are getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to be able to hit the ball? Of course the hitting coach is there to help hitters with certain approaches but it falls on these millionaires to be able to get better at their own craft since they did choose this as a career. Stop blaming the ones who are not actually hitting the ball.

some sense

June 12th, 2009
8:43 am

Unfortunately, little market exists for Jeff, so don’tn expect much in return…more of a “suspect” than a “prospect”. BUT the simple fact remains…Jeff is the face of a very mediocre franchise, the poster boy for the team’s relative failures. If Jeff left, all would benefit…he would, the team would, the franchise would. Poor guy’s walking anxiety for all.

tale of woe

June 12th, 2009
8:45 am

When was the last time Frenchy had good back-to-back games? Last season? Maybe? I agree Mark, he needs to go and get a fresh start. The sooner the better!

Daniel

June 12th, 2009
8:54 am

It is time to trade Francouer. He has more value around the league than here in Atlanta. Remember Boston has been scouting him. I am not suggesting we will get back an All-Star, but something is better than nothing. Perhaps a middle relief arm and a low level prospect.

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
8:54 am

Enter your comments here

Mary

June 12th, 2009
8:57 am

Frank Wren dumps Glavine and is keeping Franceour? I think a new GM would be the correct answer here.

getmattholliday

June 12th, 2009
8:58 am

Mac

June 12th, 2009
8:58 am

Maybe he needs to see Smoltz’s shrink. I wish he’d start a tear that lasts the rest of the season so we can stop obsessing about this. The Braves have excellent pitching. Francouer is not the only one not hitting like a major leaguer. The Braves can’t get a big bat without weakening the pitching, which is stupid. They aren’t going to contend this year anyway, so sit tight, chill and accept this year for what it is … a step forward in a rebuilding process.

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
8:59 am

Yea, sure its easy to blame Terry Pendleton when the team is not hitting well. When does the blame fall on these millionaire players who actually are responsible for being able to get good at their own craft? of course the hitting coach is there to help but when it all boils down to it, its the hitters who are up there to hit the ball, not the coaches! Lets face it, Jeff is not as good as we all thought he would be, so lets stop being in denial. I say go play football! Golden child?….what a Joke!

ProfFish

June 12th, 2009
9:00 am

This posting contains questionable speculations. If you are interested in the subject proposed, please add ProfFish at the start of your posting to allow easier searching.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’m not comfortable with the subject, but it’s time someone starts taking a real close look at the possibility that Francouer used performance enhancing drugs at some point in his career. At the same time, I’d like to suggest a new approach to this blog that might help us find some answers.

Remember, a decade ago there was little interest in controlling a wide variety of drugs and no testing at all. And, if you don’t think kids are juicing, drop by a Little League ballpark and look at the arms and thighs on 11 year olds. I watched an 11 year old crush a 300 foot home run last night. Proof? No. Suspicion and reasonable doubt? Absolutely, especially since the kid has serious joint problems from growing too fast. He hobbled around the bases.

Back to pro sports. When the sorry history of the era is written, there are going to be many stories told about those who were decent ballplayers, not superstars, and who would never have made the big leagues without help. We’ve focused too much on superstars and now need to look marginal players who had some great seasons. Marcus Giles always comes to mind. Pre-testing, he actually led the league in doubles one year if I remember correctly. Post-testing, isn’t he somewhere in Asia?

What may have happened to Giles and what may have happened to Francouer? The common element is they both lost “explosiveness”, and the ability to rapidly release energy. The ball used to jump off their bats, now it flutters. Energy levels that were once almost comical at times have clearly declined to more normal human levels. Changes in output and production are obvious, just as the reason for those changes is not.

How will we ever know? AJC journalists are now pseudo-Fox News anchors rousing the rabble and sitting on the sidelines in blogs. Don’t doubt that it breaks their hearts to be forced into this role, and expect the exodus from the occupation to continue. Do you really think MB would rather be sitting at his computer when he could be investigating one of the most important sports stories of our lifetime?

A lot of people are going to read this posting. Our backgrounds and access to information vary widely, but together we know and can do a lot. As a society, we must replace responsible journalism with responsible blogging if we are going to find answers to questions that are important to us. Maybe we can do so here.

A quick Google will identify websites that are addressing similar issues, for example http://juicedsportsblog.com/. Unfortunately, these tend to be amateurish or clearly have commercial goals. Here in this forum, we have the freedom to research and report without any requirement to sell advertising space. Maybe we can use it. Here are some suggestions:

We have some great stat-jocks here. Look at players from the 1960s. See what percentage of the group showed significant decline from their first five years in the league to their second five years. Then look at players from 1998 through 2008 and do the same thing. This could be at least an indication of how wide-spread unpredictable performance decline has been. If you have questions about how to set up the data, just ask.

We also have a lot of athletes, coaches and trainers on this board. I’ve been told directly by an Associate Athletic Director at a Division 1 school with a background in training that he could tell exactly who was juicing, when they started, and when they quit. is this true? Are the physical signs so obvious?

We have a lot of members of the Atlanta community who are fans or participants in sports. How many people are juicing, especially at the high school level? Just ask. But, please be careful not to start a witch hunt or to forget that everyone, including Francouer and Giles, is absolutely innocent until proven guilty.

Our moderator needs to help us here, if he’s interested in carrying on the discussion. We would probably need some sort of semi-permanent blog and we would definitely need training in journalistic ethics. For example, journalists prefer public information from quoted sources, as we all do. When sources go anonymous, journalists usually seek confirmation from additional sources. Not a hard and fast rule, but a good guideline.

How about it? Anyone interested in intelligent discourse that extends beyond single syllable words? Is there a possibility that we might actually do something here other than rant?

Joey

June 12th, 2009
9:01 am

Trade Pendleton, not Frenchie!!!

Johnny

June 12th, 2009
9:02 am

Why is Josh Smith getting brought into this? How is he comparable to Jeff Francouer?

If we released Frenchy right now (or traded him or whatever), my lasting impression on him would be the quote, “If OBP is so important, then why don’t they put it on the scoreboard.”

Buzz

June 12th, 2009
9:02 am

I’d just bench him and keep him as a defensive replacement. He is a competent outfielder.

I’d platoon LF, keep McLouth, put Infante (or Prado?) in RF. Let Jeff play only when the game is out of hand. If that doesn’t teach him, nothing will.

And if a man his age can’t listen to someone like Bobby Cox, he’s a proven idiot anyway.

Mac

June 12th, 2009
9:06 am

The Braves only have a “hole” at 1B when Kotchman is out. He’s a good defensive player and offensive player. First doesn’t have to be a home run spot for a team to be successful. Sure, look at Fred McGriff and the Big Cat, but also see Sid Bream. Kotchman is not a problem.

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
9:07 am

The problem is Mac, is that the braves do not want to spend any money. They are cheap! they want to put bandaides over the problem instead of actually fixing them, and then somehow hopes that they miraculously work themselves out. You have to pay for talent. Im sure all the braves home games would be sold out if we actually had a good team on the field. y should i spend/waste my hard earned money to see a team that’s not worth lookin at on tv much less goin to see in person.

DeeDee

June 12th, 2009
9:09 am

I think that this is any easy story for Bradley to write. All he has to do is edit his last article about Frenchy and submit. I’m not a Francouer fanatic but the WHOLE team stinks right now! Come one Bradley, write about some of the others……..like Pendleton!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 12th, 2009
9:09 am

What about Garrett Anderson? Kotchman? KJ? Frenchie is only part of the problem. McClouth while a nice player is not the talent to put the Braves over the top. With or without Frenchie the Braves will struggle to be a .500 team.

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
9:12 am

Mac, the braves are cheap….they don’t want to spend money. They like to put bandaides on glaring weaknesses and somehow hope they miraculously work themselves out. If the braves don’t spend money to get quality talent in here Turner field will continue to have empty seats. Why should i spend/waste my hard earned money to see a team that’s not even worth me watching it on tv much less going to see in person.

jon-b

June 12th, 2009
9:13 am

I think he is trying too hard – good games this weekend following the 2-hit game of yesterday could be a good start for him to salvage this season. The Braves are struggling as a team but leaving Matt Diaz in with Frenchy and Kelly for awhile and getting the bottom half of the order streaking a bit would do wonders for the team. The pitching is stable but too much weight to bear without a more consistent attack available – it will come around and this road trip is just the place to do it. I believe that the trade should be Garrett Anderson because we can get something for him and the faith it will show the remaining team will pay dividends. I know I am an optimist, but having been a Braves fan for over 50 years, optimism has to be a lasting trait or life isn’t worth much. Good column Mark – thanks for taking the “tough road” so often – it must be a challenge being a columnist in Atlanta.

Mitch C

June 12th, 2009
9:14 am

Mark, while from a “numbers” standpoint, you may be right, I have several problems with trading Jeff.

One, as you said, what can we get for him? If it’s not the “all that much” that you say, then are we not better off with his 70 RBI? What better would we have than Jeff if he wasnt here?

Two, who plays right field if Jeff is dealt? Do we put Gregor Blanco in the position? He doesnt hit, either, and is worse than Jeff. What other options are there?

Also, Jeff is only .. 25. The guy has plenty of time to still improve to where he was in 2006/2007.

I wouldnt trade him. Too young. No replacement. Too many downsides. Few upsides to dealing him.

You mentioned that you thought you were wrong, Mark, and, personally, for the reasons I listed, I think you are. Then again, 76% of the readers polled so far side with you, so maybe I’m the wrong one.

Mitch C

Swaga1

June 12th, 2009
9:16 am

Get a life Joey, most of the blame goes to Jeff for getting the big head and thinking that he’s “the next big thing”. wow, how life humbles you after a while. y do u want pendleton to be fired and not the person who is actually responsible for making himself better, afterall, he is getting paid millions of dollars to hit.

Chris

June 12th, 2009
9:18 am

I’d rather the Braves actually send him down to the minors, not a casino weekend. Give him 3-4 weeks in Mississippi and see if things turn around. He doesn’t need to go to Gwinnett. It’s basically the same fans, and it will be the same pressure.

He has no trade value right now, Boston wasn’t impressed. Let him get away from things for a few weeks. Benching him would be a solution, but it doesn’t solve the fact he needs to see pitching in order to improve.

Patriot02

June 12th, 2009
9:18 am

I do not agree that Jeff Francouer should be traded. I have been involved in Gwinnett athletics for over 15 years and I watched Jeff throughout his high school career. Jeff is a fighter and I truly feel that he will be successful. He is not the only one struggling under the guidance of Terry Pendleton. Pendleton was great in his time, but pitchers and pitches have changed, the Braves need to adapt and hire someone who can motivate and instruct the hitters on how to adjust to the ways. Jeff never gave up on anything and I don’t think we as Brave’s fans should give up on him. He is still a kid and he will fix this with the right instruction and our support.

Rafael Belliard juiced, and you know it (formerly the poster known as AJC)

June 12th, 2009
9:19 am

“Should the Braves deal everyone on the team”

Mark O’Bradley,

I’m thinkin’ yes.

And here’s why,,,,

Leonard Nimoy’s Ballad of Bilbo Baggins:

In the middle of the earth in the land of the Shire
lives a brave little hobbit whom we all admire.
With his long wooden pipe,
fuzzy, woolly toes,
he lives in a hobbit-hole and everybody knows him

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now hobbits are a peace-lovin’ folks you know
They don’t like to hurry and they take things slow
They don’t like to travel away from home
They just want to eat and be left alone
But one day Bilbo was asked to go
on a big adventure to the caves below,
to help some dwarves get back their gold
that was stolen by a dragon in the days of old.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Well he fought with the goblins!
He battled a troll!!
He riddled with Gollum!!!
A magic ring he stole!!!!
He was chased by wolves!!!!!
Lost in the forest!!!!!!
Escaped in a barrel from the elf-king’s halls!!!!!!!

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now he’s back in his hole in the land of the Shire,
that brave little hobbit whom we all admire,
just a-sittin’ on a treasure of silver and gold
a-puffin’ on his pipe in his hobbit-hole.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Keeping It Real

June 12th, 2009
9:21 am

The only hitters on the team are Chipper,McCann,Escobar, McLouth and Anderson. TP cannot make the other guys hit nor can their Daddys. Triple A talent is what it is. The players got to this point on their own and not by TP’s coaching. They cannot get any better. Since Frenchy is not bringing the fans in, he is a liability to the Braves and not an asset. It would be better for him to change venues and become a star somewhere else like so many former Braves have done in the past.

wareagle

June 12th, 2009
9:26 am

i wouldn’t make a trade unless it improves the team.

Billball

June 12th, 2009
9:27 am

Again, this is a very good ball player we are giving up on. Again, why continue to protect TP? The Braves develop talent and when they get here, they seldon improve with no professional coaching. Kelly Johnson could be a .300 heitter with the right direction, which would probably improve his boneheadedness in the field. If we are going to trade Francoeur, let’s trade Kelly Johnson and all of our home grown talent. Actually I wouldn’t mind having everyone on Pittsburgh’s roster.