He’s Frenchy, as in benchy, and he could soon be gone

When Job got fed up, as Job would periodically, he’d head up to Adairsville and stop by the farm, and he’d say to Bobby Cox, “I’m at wit’s end — what should I do?”

And Bobby Cox would say, “Joby [as we know, Cox loves his nicknames], just be patient.”

OK, I embellish. But I do it to make a point: When you’ve exhausted Bobby Cox’s legendary patience, you’re probably not long for these Braves. Last week Kelly Johnson went from being the everyday second baseman to being benched to being placed on the disabled list, and Jeff Francoeur was held out of the lineup three games running before being reinserted Tuesday night. (He went 1-for-4 with an infield single.) And the sound you heard was of two homegrown players who’ve been Atlanta Braves since 2005 going, “Gulp.”

Kenny Lofton didn’t fit in here, and he was gone after one season. Same with Bret Boone. Dan Kolb was brought here to be the closer, couldn’t do the job and was gone the next year. John Rocker lasted 18 months after his Sports Illustrated rant appeared, and the only reason he stayed so long was the Braves couldn’t find anyone to take him. Cox never rips a guy publicly — and almost never does he resort to managerial privilege and trash a guy to reporters off the record — but you can tell when he’s fed up.

And this is a different sort of getting-fed-up than Cox demonstrated when he pulled Yunel Escobar — or, long ago, Andruw Jones — from a game. Those upbraidings were designed to get a young player’s wandering attention. Benching a guy over a longer haul is something far more serious. It’s not a move Cox ever makes in haste, or in anger. It’s a move he undertakes only when he has reached a conclusion he has labored long not to reach.

Is Jeff Francoeur on his way out of Atlanta?

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It takes Cox a lot longer to lose faith than it does, say, Lou Piniella. Cox believes until he’s given reason to stop believing, but when he stops … well, that’s about all she wrote. Johnson was afforded every opportunity and hit .216. Francoeur was extended an even longer grace period — we’re now going on a second calendar year of his laboriously documented flailings — but has simply ceased being a competent big-league hitter. And now both have been benched.

The Francoeur breach has been coming for a while. The Braves loved his enthusiasm — he is, as you’ve heard, a great guy — but couldn’t understand why he never made the necessary adjustments in technique. And they were mightily miffed when he took off for Texas to consult hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. As Terry Pendleton, the Braves’ hitting coach, has said: “It bugged me at first.” And as much as Cox loves his players, he loves his coaches even more.

This spring Francoeur told me, “As long as Six has my back, I don’t care about anything else.” Well, Bobby Cox wears No. 6, and he no longer stands in Francoeur’s corner.

And Francoeur, who’s no fool, already seems to have one eye on the exit. He told Dave O’Brien: “[I] just have to be patient and wait my turn, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

At this moment, I’d bet on the “somewhere else.” When you’re a Brave and you’ve lost Bobby Cox, you’ve lost everything.

553 comments Add your comment

matt_T

July 7th, 2009
10:14 am

FINALLY!

The sooner the better

NC Braves Fan

July 7th, 2009
10:24 am

Mark – it’s hard to believe that the Braves will get much of anything since he’s now arb-eligible and already making over $3 million a year. He’s basically a non-tender-in-waiting.

What will be interesting to see is what the Braves end up doing in the OF moving forward. With Matt in RF and Garrett in LF, poor Nate will be dead by the end of August. Can’t imagine that lineup will hold for long.

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:26 am

Right. I agree Mark Bradley, but who’s gonna take him?

Mark Bradley

July 7th, 2009
10:28 am

Don’t know. The Clemson Tigers?

Sowega Dawg

July 7th, 2009
10:28 am

Enter your comments here

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:28 am

If Braves make a trade, they need to do it Pronto, before this whole road trip is lost and they’re 8 games or more out by the break.

Hot Sauce

July 7th, 2009
10:31 am

Sad thought but see ya later.

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:31 am

I hate Clemson, so I hope they do take him, so I can watch him flounder around in molasses out there. Just kidding, I don’t hate Jeff.

At this point, I dont think we need the power hitter, just a good solid average with medium pop, that knows how to drive runs in. Last night, we strung the hits together to create scoring opporutinities, but nobody was up to the task of getting a basehit. Diaz struck out with the bases loaded and 1 out. This lineup needs to be lengthened with another professional type hitter. That way we wouldn’t need to totally mortgage our pitching this year and next, or give up our big shortstop.

Lifetime Braves Fan

July 7th, 2009
10:33 am

Enter your comments here

Lifetime Braves Fan

July 7th, 2009
10:36 am

I just want to say it is not only Frenchy who is strugling at the plate it is the whole damn team. What is Cox going to do bench everyone. There is not one player on the team that you want going to the plate with the game on the line. Fire TP now and maybe save season.

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:38 am

Chipper credited Don Baylor with helping him tremendously..calling him the greatest hitting coach he’s had besides his dad. What’s he up to these days?

Sowega Dawg

July 7th, 2009
10:39 am

I think they should wait a little longer until hopefully someone becomes desperate.

Waittilnextyear

July 7th, 2009
10:39 am

Doesn’t matter. A look at the standings shows the reality. To get to 89 wins, they need to go 50 & 30 the rest of the way. That is not going to happen – no matter who they might put into the lineup. Sorry folks.

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 7th, 2009
10:40 am

I will tell you this. I pitched against both McCann and Francouer in high school. Francouer was the same erratic swinging, curveball chasing, wannabe superstar he is today. McCann on the other hand, wore me out, hitting the longest homerun I have ever seen off of me. McCann took a LOT of pitches and walked a LOT. The point is… some things never change. Francouer had a fluke rookie campaign and the hometown people loved it, myself included. But then came reality, and Jeff’s inablility to be humbled and make a change has left the Braves with no choice…except to make a change themselves. See ya Frenchy, you had it made and were too proud to change your ways.

Gary

July 7th, 2009
10:43 am

I hate to see Francouer go. I have been following him since he was a junior at Parkview. Great Guy. Perhaps Frank Wren can beef-up the offense this coming off-season like he did with the pitching last off-season.

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:44 am

GT, who did you pitch for?

Chris

July 7th, 2009
10:45 am

Good benching. Now send him back to the minors to relax a bit. He isn’t being traded for anything worthwhile.

Oh wait, we have Frank Wren. I’m sure he’ll try to trade him for display rights to the Chicken’s suit.

Hamad Meander

July 7th, 2009
10:45 am

At least if he goes back to Clemson to play safety on the football team, it will be a lot easier to hit something. The guy is a great athlete, and could be successful, but it seems like he doesn’t take to coaching very well. He has actually made Terry Pendleton look like a bad hitting coach vs. Terry making him a bad hitter. That takes a lot more effort.

Ben

July 7th, 2009
10:48 am

Oh, the irony of this. Cox let the kid swing at everything for three seasons and let the media put him up on a pedestal as the next Natural … well, had Coxie coached him a little bit earlier on, taught him a little pitch selection, maybe those adjustments in his swing would have been made. I love hands-off, let-them-play managers, but that was taken to the extreme and this was an inevitable fall for a young player who was not coached enough.

Whofan

July 7th, 2009
10:48 am

Frenchy’s just Andrew revisited. Adjust or leave.

John G

July 7th, 2009
10:48 am

I say trade Frenchy, Kotchman, and another minor league player to Texas for Hank Blalock…we get a solid player, can move Chipper’s aging self to first, and, best of all, we dump Frenchy.

tralfaz

July 7th, 2009
10:50 am

Wonder how he’d respond to a competent hitting coach…

NC Braves Fan

July 7th, 2009
10:51 am

Chris – the Braves would have to throw in a prospect to get the Chicken suit I would think.

Lazy Dawg

July 7th, 2009
10:52 am

Frenchy needs to give up golf it may end up saving his swing ,he is not a pitcher(John Smoltz) stick to baseball till you retire or the majors will do it for you.

Bobby Cox

July 7th, 2009
10:53 am

GT your an idiot. Jeff is not to “proud” to change his ways…. If you don’t think he is trying everything under the sun to be productive then your a moron. He just isn’t as good or polished a hitter as Brian. Maybe he just doesn’t have super star ability. I hope he gets a break somewhere else and makes you all look stupid. It wasn’t to long ago when the braves gave up on another young outfielder who was struggling and had bad plate discipline. Jermiane Dye anybody? I’m not saying he will turn it around or he hasnt gotten more than a fair shake in Atlanta. But peopel who question his work ethic and say he is to proud to change his ways just dont have a clue.

sidslid

July 7th, 2009
10:54 am

My gut is the arbitration and $3MM salary have put the breaks on any real deal so Cox has no choice but to sit him. If a pennant race team gets an injury in the outfield, they can move him and eat about $1 million of the remaining salary for the year. I don’t see any perpetual rebuilding team, ala KC, taking him with an arbitration-protected salary (I believe you cannot get more than a 10% salary cut in arbitration).

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 7th, 2009
10:54 am

GT you must have pitched at Norcross. Longest homerun I have seen was hit by McCann there on top on the retaining wall

bfan

July 7th, 2009
10:54 am

Too bad other than a couple of games recently he has been hitting. Everyone has bad games or bad series so what if you actually think Matt Diaz will keep going like he is going you are kidding yourself. He hasn’t had a starting job for a reason.

Randy

July 7th, 2009
10:55 am

Francoeur is where he needs to be. He is a reserve outfielder in the Bigs, not an everyday player. Sad, but true.

ALL Righty then

July 7th, 2009
10:55 am

Seems to me theres a problem with the hitting coach not the players. Especially when its Kelly, Jeff, and numerous other players along the way. Maybe they should fix the problem with Pendleton and keep the hitters and get them fixed up. Oh but that would make to much sense.

Oh yea and a lineup of Blanco-Prado at the top of the order was getting it done. Why is it that Blanco is now benched? Move the center fielder down in the order and play Blanco. Hes better then Anderson for sure. Play the hitters and forget about hurting feelings. The other players and especially the pitchers do not deserve what they are getting in run support.

A great man

July 7th, 2009
10:56 am

GT…I will tell you this: You did NOT pitch against McCann and Francouer in high school. That is a ridiculous statement; we both know that you only have two fingers on your throwing hand.

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 7th, 2009
10:57 am

Joe, Norcross

joe

July 7th, 2009
10:58 am

I’m guessing Frenchy will be back in there today

A great man

July 7th, 2009
10:58 am

GT…let me tell you this: You did NOT pitch against McCann and Francouer in high school. That is a ridiculous statement. We both know that in fact you lack an opposable thumb on your throwing hand.

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 7th, 2009
10:59 am

Bank Walker, LMFAO that was off of me

GT, where nerds get shot and robbed everyday

July 7th, 2009
11:02 am

Bobby, I disagree, I think Jeff DOES have superstar ability. But he lacks the ability to adjust his approach at the plate. And that doesn’t come with learning a new swing. It’s things like not swinging at the first pitch of a pinch hit at bat with nobody out and runners on first and second and popping out in foul territory. He is to PROUD to change bc he thinks he can hit ANYTHING and he CAN’T. There is only one person in the league that can hit all the junk Frenchy swings at and his name is Vlad Guerrero (sp?)

VaBravesfan

July 7th, 2009
11:03 am

It is a sad state of affairs when Matt Diaz is your best option for a starting right fielder.

Ray Pugh

July 7th, 2009
11:03 am

Vazquez + Francine + Kotchman for Fielder + Hart

Marc

July 7th, 2009
11:05 am

A team in the race still would probably take him as an extra-bat for a shallow bench. Or maybe even as a late innings replacement. A lot of people still think he has upside too. The problem won’t be getting rid of him, it’ll be getting something back. The Tex trade was horrible cause we essentially got nothing out of it even when we traded him away. Anything that takes him off the payroll will probably be a positive trade. Hate to say that about a guy, but he’s just too much of a liability right now.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 7th, 2009
11:06 am

What bothers me the most is that Frenchy seems to be more upset over his lack of playing time than the current state of his team. His remarks to DOB came off (to me, at least) as somewhat standoffish. Understanding that things sometimes translate differently in print, the whole “I’m not happy about it” bit put me off. How about “This is what’s best for the team”? When was the last time you heard the guy say “We”?

Kashi

July 7th, 2009
11:06 am

Folks, I have seen this year after year. Since Furcal left Atlanta, game hasn’t been that fun to watch. For last 3 years we haven’t had any speed on base and no threat on plate. We sweept Phillies with our speed on base and starting pitchers. This is a baseball folks…if you can’t run or hit. Hang it up!. We have too many fat asssss on base who can’t cut the corner or swipe home plate like G.Blanco did to beat phillies. Every hussle & run counts to win a game.

Scott

July 7th, 2009
11:07 am

We need a competent hitting coach, even though Frenchy is a complete lost cause TP is NOT getting the job done either.

also, why were we bunting a hitter who was 2 for 3, with 0 out, a guy on 1st base, down 2 runs in the 7th???

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 7th, 2009
11:08 am

Bobby, I don’t think you can compare Frenchy to Jermaine Dye. Jermaine was not given up on (only 292 AB’s) compared to Jeff’s 2441 AB’s. Jermaine was a prospect like Salty or Elvis. We traded for some shot at the here and now and got screwed. But I can’t blame Jeff either for going to Rudy either. He see’s a need for a change in style which TP can’t offer. He needs a little more time. You can’t change a swing over night unless your Tiger Woods.

Marc

July 7th, 2009
11:09 am

You’re right bfan, Diaz hasn’t been a starter because of his defense. That’s the same reason Prado hasn’t been a starter and we’ve already been seeing it. When he was “promoted” I predicted he wouldn’t be a everyday 2B by the end of this month, but I forget when Infante’s coming back, Prado may get a week or two longer.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 7th, 2009
11:10 am

MB, what did you think about Orel sticking up for our man BC last night? I think he might’ve taken a pass at your article.

Willie Coyote

July 7th, 2009
11:10 am

If you don’t drive in runs, you better get on base, score runs, and move runners. If you don’t do those things, you better be knocking the ball over the fence and driving in runs at least. If you don’t do either then you need not be surprised/miffed when you become a part-time player.

NC Braves Fan

July 7th, 2009
11:10 am

GT – now that musta been quite a home run, if an anonymous witness could guess the team right off the bat.

Just goes to show if you’re gonna fail, make sure it has a hell of an entertaining story attached to it. (And if it doesn’t have a good story attached, make one up …)

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 7th, 2009
11:12 am

GT unbelievable shot. Gave up one of those myself to Bo Jackson in the day. Cleared a 100 year of oak tree, then a highway and endup hitting an apartment building. All you can do is laugh although pitching on Norcross field, you had to feel pretty safe. Its huge.

joe

July 7th, 2009
11:12 am

GT, it is an honor to have Big Mac hit “the longest homer ever” off of you… :)

francoeuristheman

July 7th, 2009
11:13 am

once again mark bradley is a dueche bag!