The Francoeur trade: A sad but necessary ending

This is how much the Braves wanted rid of Jeff Francoeur: They traded him to a team they’ll play 19 times a year, which means they’d rather put themselves in the repeated position of losing to him than have kept him around here. That’s how far the Golden Child had fallen, and how fast.

If you’d hung around the team this summer, you could tell the Braves’ patience had reached its end. Even after his Texas tutorial with Rudy Jaramillio, Francoeur was the same as he’d been last season, give or take. Even after vowing many times to be a new Frenchy, he was the familiar flailing Frenchy. And the Braves had seen enough.

He’s not a bad guy — on the contrary, he’s a fine fellow — but neither is he easy to coach. He’d been a success in every sport at every level but couldn’t master the adjustments every successful big-league hitter must make. It’s not that he didn’t try to change. He changed his swing several times. Trouble was, he couldn’t change himself.

Francoeur is a baseball player with a football mentality, and that doesn’t cut it over the long haul. A baseball player must be measured in his approach. The same aggressiveness that made Francoeur one of the greatest high school football players this blessed state has ever seen — as a Parkview junior, he averaged a touchdown catch as a wide receiver and an interception as a defensive back per game — ultimately rendered him a substandard big-league hitter.

Terry Pendleton and Bobby Cox get hammered for not imparting plate discipline on their prized pupil, but Francoeur was swinging at everything before he became a Brave. He batted eight times in a playoff doubleheader his senior season at Parkview; seven times he swung at the first pitch. He could get away with it then because he was just so gifted, but gifts alone don’t cut it in the major leagues. Not for long.

Was trading Jeff Francoeur the right move?

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Francoeur arrived in 2005 and rose to the moment, and we really expected no less. After all, he was a big-time athlete who’d spent his young life rising to such moments. But the Francoeur of 2008 and 2009 was a shadow of the rookie Frenchy. That one was dauntless. This one was aimless. For that first giddy season we were shocked if he made an out; for the past two summers we’ve been surprised if he gets a hit.

I can’t say this trade pleases me — I’ve known Francoeur since he was 17 and like him very much — but I have to say I saw it coming. By going to Jaramillo, he’d damaged his standing with Pendleton and Cox, and the only way you mend a damaged baseball relationship is by producing. And Francoeur had stopped producing at an acceptable rate. He’d become a liability. He needed something he could never get as a Brave. He needed a new start.

And now he has one. I hope he makes it work. I hope he hits .300 and drives in 100 runs next season and every season thereafter, and I don’t care if he inflicts major damage on his former employer. For the good of both parties, this was a trade the Braves had to make. Even if the only team willing to take Francoeur was the hated Mets, the Braves still had to make it.

On July 7, 2005, Jeff Francoeur hit a home run in his first big-league game. Four years and three days later, he was traded for Ryan Church, a right fielder having an even worse year. Four years and three days later, the Golden Child was given the golden boot.

531 comments Add your comment

Norman

July 10th, 2009
7:37 pm

Good trade. Bye Frenchie.

ugaaccountant

July 10th, 2009
7:38 pm

Terrible idea. Francoeur is a far better player than Church and we paid the Mets to take him. That’s insanity.

BarkingBulldawg

July 10th, 2009
7:38 pm

Wow.

Bradley, I gotta say as a longtime critic, lately with this whole blog thing you are starting to find your stride. Nice piece on Blank and Falcons, also.

My question: Is Church considered a longterm part of this team or solely a stopgap until Heyward arrives?

Aaron

July 10th, 2009
7:40 pm

Is there any chance of putting Church and possibly Vasquez together for a more powerful bat?

BarkingBulldawg

July 10th, 2009
7:40 pm

Can also just say that now all we gotta do is trade Yunel’s cancerous arse and find a real option at 2B. Now that Kelly has been benched, part of that problem is alleviated. Is Martiiiiiiiin that guy?

Reality

July 10th, 2009
7:40 pm

It was a very necessary move, but I’m shocked that they made a trade with their most bitter rival.

Reality

July 10th, 2009
7:41 pm

On a side note, I’m glad that none of the “First” morons have emerged here.

Brew

July 10th, 2009
7:41 pm

Oh yeah, this slide is all Frenchy’s fault. He was right to seek help elsewhere. No one has gotten better under Pendleton’s tutelage. Move TP to manager where he can’t kill the hitters any more and let Bobby go groom horses all day long. He’s proven he can’t get it done without a roster of All-Stars.

Jay

July 10th, 2009
7:42 pm

Most needlessly poor move I’ve ever seen by a GM in baseball. Honestly, if you must trade him (which I’m certainly not convinced is the case), you don’t trade him to the Mets. Give him to the Royals for a bag of balls and bats. Not the Mets. Not ever. Frank Wren has handled his GM duties regarding team chemistry with all the grace and care of a grenade in a phonebooth. It’s becoming hard to watch. The guy is a putz. Period.

taxman kenneth

July 10th, 2009
7:42 pm

Another stupid trade. Frenchy is a much better player than Church is. They could have got more in return than Church and they gave the Mets money like they needed it. Another front office blunder. I hope they don’t ever win another game and the Mets flourish.

Snewo DAWG

July 10th, 2009
7:42 pm

I understand the trade, I know it was time for him to be gone, but to the METS?? Ha ha. Let them suffer even more. That’s great.

Good luck, Frenchy, just not when you’re playing against us.

Dawgdad

July 10th, 2009
7:42 pm

Ryan Church knows how to play baseball and if he stays healthy has a much better future than Frenchy. Good trade, considering Frenchy has no market value and is arbitration eligible after this year. Beat the Mets let him walk, as they got what they wanted, out of Church’s contract.

ric flair

July 10th, 2009
7:43 pm

This is the best move the braves have ever made. Not that they got anything for Brad Komisk, I mean Francour,
it’s that they got rid of a prima donna. JF got by when no one else could have got the pass he got because he was a Atlanta area golden child. New York will crucify him for the same performance. He will not accept coaching and has proven that he is not a major league ballplayer only a major league bust.

Kyle

July 10th, 2009
7:44 pm

So true Mark…it had to be done. Although I do care if he inflicts major damage on his former employer.

spider

July 10th, 2009
7:44 pm

the mets got the best of this trade, a agee frenchy probably need a change, i sure thought we would get someone a lot better than CHURCH, but good luck too FRENCHY, im sure the braves just lost a lot more fans.

Jim Patriot

July 10th, 2009
7:44 pm

“Francoeur is a far better player than Church”

Based on what measurements????

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 10th, 2009
7:45 pm

It’s sad but maybe it’ll be the wake-up call he needs.

ND

July 10th, 2009
7:45 pm

Dumb trade. I am all for trading him but as long as he is a Mut I will never be able to hope he does well. Sending him to AAA would have made more sense.

NorcrossFan

July 10th, 2009
7:46 pm

Was it really necessary to trade him to the NY Mets?

I’m sure the Braves could have gotten a Ryan Church equivalent from another team (perhaps, they wouldn’t have had to send cash to that team).

This tells me that Francouer had a cancerous presence or that Frank Wren is way too trigger happy (or both).

Bill

July 10th, 2009
7:46 pm

Brew, you’re clueless. Look at the stats over the last 5 years for TP and the last 18 for Cox and you will realize, your accusations are without merit.

The Colonel

July 10th, 2009
7:47 pm

Bradley

You are a good reporter. I count on your articles.

That said, you are a bad reporter. Your affection for Francouer colored your writing on the Braves. Is that what they taught you at journalism school, Bubba? You are guilty of ESPN disease. You are thought of as a reporter until you do not want to be thought of as a reporter. Pick one. Make sure you know the difference. There’s a reason hard-copy newspapers are gasping for life. You ain’t helping any.

My thoughts for you and “frenchie” are the same. Grow a pair, fellas. Enough with the “Oh, but it hurts my feelings” garbage. Do your jobs. If you can remember how.

willie

July 10th, 2009
7:47 pm

Wow, we got nothing for the guy but a player that is no better right now with less upside. And, we traded him within the division. There must have been zero market for him. What a shame.

Banshee 29

July 10th, 2009
7:47 pm

Poor decision to send him to a division foe, especially the Mets. Would not be surprised to see him rope the ball for the rest of the year. The Mets are more deperate than we are, so I am curious as to why they would want him. How much cash? What are Church’s contract obligations?
About time…sick of hearing about local boy gone good. Smell ya later Frenchy. Wonder what Skipper will call Mr. Church?

jimmya

July 10th, 2009
7:48 pm

another goofup WREN made cant he do anything right FIRE WREN

ric flair

July 10th, 2009
7:48 pm

Even though I agree with the trade, I’m sure that JF will now become a .400 hitter and most likely hit 900+ HRs

tiger7_88

July 10th, 2009
7:49 pm

Can also just say that now all we gotta do is trade Yunel’s cancerous arse

Yeah… god forbid we keep a guy who can actually HIT on this team.

RT

July 10th, 2009
7:49 pm

Great deal for Braves,now its time to trade Chipper while he still has some value!

nick manning

July 10th, 2009
7:51 pm

I can’t wait to see how the braves pitch francoeur. I imagine it involves a lot of sliders. The kid has no pitch recognition. ALso, the Mets are going to stink worse now. Thanks Braves

Get out of town

July 10th, 2009
7:51 pm

Thank God he is gone!!! May the boos of New York City rain down on his self righteous ass.

richipoo

July 10th, 2009
7:52 pm

Not crazy about trading with the Mets, but it looked like the Braves were going to non-tender Frenchie if they couldn’t get anything of value in return. Other teams had to know this so they were’nt going to give up anything of value for him. I guess something is better than nothing.

Ron E.

July 10th, 2009
7:53 pm

This was the perfect move. Francoeur is clearly never going to be a quality player in the big leagues. Sending him to the Mets where he can drag down their offense for a few years until they figure out he isn’t going to improve was genius. Church is not great but at least he gets on base at a league average level. The Braves can platoon him with Diaz and greatly increase the offense they are getting from RF. Getting him is far more than we had any reason to expect was possible for Francoeur.

Dr. R

July 10th, 2009
7:54 pm

Mark points out correctly that French has a football mentality. That matches the mentality of most Braves fans, which may be why they still defend him. Including most of the ill-informed comments in this blog. Atlanta is my hometown and I love it, but I dearly wish I could spend this six months of the year in a real BASEBALL town. I had hopes we could convert into one during the 90s and 14 straight, but not so much. Couple of thoughts about French in the Big Apple: One, perhaps the Braves were glad to deal him to a team they want to fail. Two, how is he going to handle New York fans when a few boos in Atlanta seemed to get to him? They will eat him alive up there. I suspect in about two years, he’ll be back at Parkview coaching JV football.

The Grinch

July 10th, 2009
7:54 pm

Wren has again proved his genius. Say what you want about his tact (or lack thereof), but if there’s one thing the man knows how to do it’s cut dead weight. We made off like bandits; we would have been ahead trading him straight up for that mascot with the big baseball head. The fact that we actually got a major league player in return was gravy. Church is hitting .280/2/.332. That’s essentially Garrett Anderson with hustle.

Now, if only Wren could apply his lack of sentimentality to cutting dead weight in the coaching ranks…

Wilburiv

July 10th, 2009
7:54 pm

I agree he needed to be moved, but Ryan Church. Please! Got nothing for him, sent cash too, AND we still have the problems, BC and TP. The Braves are going to be a middle to last place (well maybe not lower than the Ex, er Nationals) team for a long time. I hope JF does get it together.

kcob95

July 10th, 2009
7:55 pm

Some of these idiots continue to blame pendleton, why? You can impart wisdom and direction, but if one refuses to take that wisdom and direction-its like talking to a rock! Good conversation, but only one-sided. How many times does this guy swing at the first pitch when a pitcher is struggling and then finds himself in an 0-2 count. Good riddence! Most of you wouldn’t give Josh Smith half the excuses that Francoeur received. Let the Mets fans break him out of his stubborness and he might be able to salvage his career.

No More Bobby 2.

July 10th, 2009
7:55 pm

Yay. Good bye Francouer. If he performs for the Mets like he did here the last 2 years they will run him out of town.

25-Year Braves Fan

July 10th, 2009
7:56 pm

The writing was on the wall this spring when Frank Wren told a downtown luncheon, “Jeff Francoeur will never be a great ballplayer.” They’ve had it out for this kid for a while now. Francoeur has 235 more hits than Ryan Church in one fewer season in the big leagues .. He has significantly more runs batted in, more triples, more doubles, more of everything that counts .. Last season and this have not been what anyone expected, but there is nothing you can expect from Ryan Church .. He is a average at best, or maybe even mediocre. The Braves have a recent history of keeping poorly performing coaches and letting players of note leave. They aren’t going anywhere until they fix the other problems in the dugout. I hope that Ryan Church is here for a few days until they move him somewhere else and get a legitimate major league outfielder. Someone who hits RIGHT HANDED!

the king

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

once heyward arrives nobody will even remember francouer !!!

coachgb

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

Another left handed bat, 31 years old and a part time player, often injured, the hated Mets, just another robotic pro athlete, signed for just this year…what can a real Atlanta fan say? Trade our best starting pitcher next, oh, wotking on that one already.

tiger7_88

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

Frenchy is a much better player than Church is.

One of the players involved in this trade this year has a batting average of .250, an on-base percentage of .282, and a slugging percentage of .352 and has a career batting average of .266, a career on-base percentage of .308, and a career slugging percentage of .424.

The other player this year has a batting average of .280, an on-base percentage of .332, and a slugging percentage of .375 and has a career batting average of .273, a career on-base percentage of .345, and a career slugging percentage of .444.

Guess which player is which?

hawesg

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

Wow, GREAT trade. Church is NOT having a worse year than Frenchy. He has an OPS of .707 despite having a TERRIBLE May. His OPS last month was .814. Frenchy hasn’t been that productive for a WEEK much less a month.

We manage not only to find a perfect platoon partner with Matt Diaz, but we also saddle the Mets with arguably the single worst offensive player in baseball over the past season and a half. Frenchy may be a great guy, but he has been an out machine at the plate. And now he goes to a home ballpark that is an atrocious hitter’s park? In front of a media much more relentless than homers like Bradley?

I predict the Mets non-tender Frenchy this winter.

mitch

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

I hear people saying we got nothing for him…The way I see it we got something for nothing. Good move Frank

savannah dawg

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

Jeff, you are a class guy, and I wish you all the best!

kcob95

July 10th, 2009
7:57 pm

I think its time for Bobby to go! We need a team that plays aggressive baseball(see Texas, Tampa,Philly) with young players. Time for us to get what we can for Chipper. I see a sweep in Colorado and this race will be over before the Allstar break.

Gov. Clinton Tyree

July 10th, 2009
7:58 pm

You folks blasting this deal need your heads examined. Francoeur is…not good. Will never be good. Who cares if it’s the Mets?

What I can’t believe is that we got a genuine .800 OPSing major leaguer of any stripe for Jeff Francoeur. Always thought Church would break through…then Escobar broke his head…

Even if Church does nothing much, this is a good deal. We’ll see more of Matty D and you’ve got a backup CF now.

James

July 10th, 2009
7:59 pm

FIRE FRANK WREN.

ric flair

July 10th, 2009
7:59 pm

Paste this into every newspaper article re JF: with the bases loaded and Francour hits into an inning ending double play.

No More Bobby 2.

July 10th, 2009
7:59 pm

If Frenchy could only take old HOF manager with him. That would be worth two bags of balls.

coachgb

July 10th, 2009
8:00 pm

T.P.’s feelings must have still been hurt! Has anyone ever improved under T.P.? How many guys come up loaded with minor league stats and then fail under him? Well?

CJDawg

July 10th, 2009
8:02 pm

MY LORD….You get worse with every idiotic post Bradley. Terrence used to hold that mantle. Giving up Jeff to the Mets will bite us in the butt. If you watch baseball closely, you will see our problem is TP. It is a glaring hole for us. Instead of letting him go, we let go of a future star, yes frenchy could turn this around, and keep a POC like TP. He cannot teach hitting. Look at Andruw now. I love the Braves, but I hope Jeff turns it around NOW and kills us throughout his career. I may give up on the Braves when Chipper leaves. We are turning into a real bunch of bums save McCann and Chipper. Please resign Bradley. Do us a favor. Go away.