200 Miles From the Citi

August 3, 2010 10:30 PM

Francoeur Saves The Mets Season


...from dipping below .500.

It's always nice to see the Mets win a game in Atlanta, but really, the Mets are no longer chasing the Braves - they're chasing that .500 mark.

The Mets came into Tuesday night's game with a record of 53-53.  At one point this season, their biggest problem was that they had failed multiple times to reach 12 games over .500.

It took a ninth inning homer by Jeff Francoeur for the Mets to avoid slipping a game below .500.

And I guess there's no better time than now to break down Jeff Francoeur.

I've gone through a love-hate thing with Francoeur all season.  And it's not fair to him, because the first strike against him is that I look at him and still think 'Atlanta Brave'.  He's from there, he spent his career there until last year - it's hard for me to get over that.

At the same time, his teammates love him.  From Day One this season, the talk was how much the clubhouse atmosphere was improved this year, primarily because of the presence in spring training of Jeff Francoeur.  So that made me really want to like him.

And then there's the arm.  Man, is that fun to watch.  He plays his position well in right field, and then whenever someone tries challenging his arm, no matter where on the field Francoeur is and whatever base he's throwing to, Francoeur can make a play.  The only player in the league I can think of who can challenge him in the throwing arm department is Ichiro.  So that's so much fun to watch, and I like him for that.

But his approach to hitting is not as enjoyable.  He's a guy who seemingly takes pride in his free-swinging approach at the plate and the fact that he's almost impossible to walk.  (Though he has 21 in 335 at-bats this year, which seems like a lot.)  I wouldn't mind that so much if he was anywhere close to the guy who hit .311 in his time with the Mets at the end of the 2009 season - but he's a career .267 hitter, who's hitting .237 this year.  You should be working on getting on base.

And - this is the one that gets me - he just doesn't seem bothered by it all.  His reaction following the homer Tuesday night was only slightly more cheery than he usually looks.  I don't necessarily want to promote misery, and I'm sure the attitude is a part of why he's so well-liked by his teammates, but look just a little bit bothered when something goes wrong, will you?  At least Luis Castillo stinks it up the right way - he looks mad when he makes an error or doesn't get a hit.

So when rumors about a possible Francoeur trade at the deadline popped up, I figured it wasn't the worst thing for the Mets.  I admit I spent a second thinking about how it would affect the clubhouse...but those thoughts were quickly shot down by thoughts about improving on-field performance.

If someone is willing to claim Francoeur off waivers and the Mets can work out a deal, I say don't even wait until Jason Bay is back and healthy - get something for him, put Jesus Feliciano in Francoeur's outfield spot, and start thinking about next year.

Because whether it's a game over or a game under .500 at this point - this year is not going to result in a playoff appearance, with or without Jeff Francoeur.

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