Tag: jeff francoeur

Phil Humber Claimed by Oakland Athletics

According to Bob Dutton’s tweet and MLB.com, the Oakland A’s have claimed former Mets prospect Phil Humber off waivers from the Kansas City Royals.

Ironically, Humber was placed on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster after the Royals signed another ex-Met — Jeff Francoeur.

Though Humber came nowhere near fulfilling the promise he showed as an ace pitcher for Rice, I’ve always had a soft spot for him. After leaving the Mets organization in the Johan Santana deal, Humber struggled in two AAA seasons in Twins’ organization — not a good thing for a team as deep in young pitching as Minnesota. He pitched most of last year for the Royals’ AAA team and his numbers don’t look great. But, he did compete in the PCL, which is considered a “hitters’ league”. Indeed, most teams in PCL averaged over 5 runs per game and .780 OPS (to put that in perspective, the average AL team scored a little less than 4 1/2 runs per game and posted a .730 OPS last year). The average PCL pitcher has a 4.78 ERA and Humber’s was 4.47 in 118 IP. Not great, but what stands out is his 1.5 BB/9 IP and 4.0 K/BB percentage.

Personally I haven’t seen him “in the flesh” since he left the Mets so can’t comment on his velocity, command, or anything else about his stuff. But the fact that the Royals were protecting him on their 40-man, combined with the Athletics jumping on him so quickly, suggests that there are people who believe that Humber might still have a chance to contribute in some capacity at the MLB level. And since he’s in the Adulterated League, I feel comfortable wishing him the best of luck.


2010 Analysis: Lucas Duda

On the same day the Mets traded Jeff Francoeur, the Mets also announced the promotion of Lucas Duda, who jumped from AA to AAA and hit a combined .304 with a .398 OBP, .967 OPS, and 23 homers in 115 games. Big things were expected by big youngster from the Mets fanbase, who were yearning for homegrown talent at the tail end of yet another disappointing season.

At first, Duda struggled against MLB pitching – possibly due to nerves and/or becoming acquainted with big-league life – but was given the opportunity to settle in and he eventually adjusted, hitting .314 with a .345 OBP, .993 OPS, and 4 homers in his final 16 games / 55 plate appearances.

In the field, Duda looked a little awkward, but hustled like crazy, had no fear of walls, and got to the ball more times than not. His baserunning was similarly lumbering, but let’s face it – he won’t be in MLB for his footwork.

Overall, Duda gave the fans some hope that the Mets farm system was capable of producing big league talent. His tall, large-shouldered frame and clumsy athleticism reminded me a bit of Corey Hart or Hunter Pence, minus the foot speed. His bat – particularly in the last two weeks of the season – made me think momentarily of Adam Dunn. If Duda can fall anywhere within that range of ballplayers, the Mets and their fans will be happy indeed.

2011 Projection

Some fans may be surprised to know that Lucas Duda will be 25 years old when spring training opens; many probably thought he was younger. At that age, the clock starts running quickly on players – it’s time to fulfill promise as a big leaguer. At 25, a player still has time to improve skills, but needs to already be showing at least one MLB skill. For Duda, that is his bat – how far he goes depends completely on his ability to hit the ball consistently and for long distances. His last 16 games of 2010 could be indicative of slugger ready to blossom; it could also be a tease (remember, Daniel Murphy looked like the next Pete Rose in his first 100 MLB at-bats). At this moment, the outfield appears to be too crowded to afford Duda the chance to prove himself, but anything can happen this winter. My guess is that if the Mets move Carlos Beltran and/or Angel Pagan to another club, Duda will be given every opportunity to win a job next spring.


2010 Analysis: Chris Carter

The Animal impressed manager Jerry Manuel early on in spring training, and became an immediate fan favorite for his energy, intensity, all-out play, and likable personality. His story and swing were so well received that it was something of a disappointment when he didn’t go north with the big club in April. But the demotion was temporary, and further fueled his legend.


2010 Analysis: Dillon Gee

I want to believe that Dillon Gee will continue to be as good as he was in five starts in September. I’d like to pencil him in to a 2011 rotation spot right now, and expect him to give the Mets 6 to 7 innings every five days, limiting opposing batters to a .212 batting average and only 2.18 earned runs per 9.

But something tells me he isn’t that good.

Which is a shame, because he’s incredibly likeable, with a great story. True grit, determination, and hard work pushed this non-prospect to the big leagues – an ideal side story turned sequel to The Legend of R.A. Dickey. I’m rooting for success by Dillon Gee in the same way I rooted for Jeff Francoeur – with high hopes, but realistic expectations.

Spending over 30 years watching the likes of Mike Vail, Roy Lee Jackson, Daniel Murphy, Kelvin Chapman, Anthony Young, Jason Jacome, Keith Miller, Brian Bannister … well, you learn to keep your guard up.

2011 Projection

I like Gee’s competitiveness and guile. I also love the fact he wears an American-made Akadema glove. I didn’t like his walk rate in his 5 MLB games, and I’m not convinced his pedestrian stuff is enough to retire big-league hitters consistently. But if he can keep his walks down at this level – something he did at lower levels – he could, at best, evolve into a Scott Baker or Nick Blackburn type of pitcher (for Mets fans, Bobby Jones is a good example), which would be a more than welcome addition to the Mets’ staff in 2011. I’ll go on a limb and say that there’s a good chance he pitches as well as Brian Bannister would have in Flushing, had he not been sent to Kansas City. The truth is, the Mets don’t have much choice but to hope that he can – a quick look at the farm system is showing no one else ready to make the leap, and the free-agent pile isn’t likely to render anything better than a journeyman rotation filler.


Off-Topic: Mets Rejects

So I’m looking at the rosters of the teams whose seasons are continuing — i.e., playing in the postseason — and I notice there are a number of players who were dumped by the Mets since Opening Day 2009.

Here is the list of recent Mets rejects going to the playoffs:

Brian Schneider (Phillies)
Wilson Valdez (Phillies)
Jeff Francoeur (Rangers)
Darren O’Day (Rangers)
Billy Wagner (Braves)

Other former Mets in the postseason include Darren Oliver, Nelson Cruz, Dan Wheeler, A.J. Burnett, Royce Ring, Drew Butera, and Guillermo Mota. I’m not sure if you can count Yorvit Torrealba. Did I miss anyone?

Also of note, Bengie Molina and Orlando Hudson — two free agents highly coveted by the Mets last winter — are both in the playoffs.

Not sure what this means, if anything. It’s probably useless information. But we will see familiar faces for the next few weeks, and it will be annoying if Brian Schneider hits a game-winning homer in the NLDS, for example.

Which former Met would you be most annoyed — or most happy — to see do something great in the 2010 postseason? Comment below.


Mets Trade Jeff Francoeur to Rangers

According to various sources, the Mets have traded Jeff Francoeur to the Texas Rangers for middle infielder Joaquin Arias.

Jeff Francoeur ended his Mets career as their cleanup hitter. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there? Though, it is in line with the Mets starting their season with Mike Jacobs in that lineup spot.

So in the end, the Mets ultimately turned Lastings Milledge into Joaquin Arias. Well, at least Arias was once traded for Alex Rodriguez.

With Arias on the club, how the heck are the Mets going to find at-bats for Luis Hernandez?

In other news, the Mets announced that Lucas Duda and Jenrry Mejia have been promoted to the big club.


Mets Game 127: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 11 Mets 4

At first, it seemed as though the game was in the bag for the Mets. They had a 4-zip lead early on, and Jonathon Niese was mowing down the Fish, striking out 6 in the first three frames.

The Fish chipped out two in the fourth on a homer by Hanley Ramirez, and then fed on Niese like piranha in the sixth, splashing seven runs before the tide rolled out.

Oh, and to add injury to insult, Jose Reyes left the game in the first inning with an aggravation of his oblique injury. He’ll be out at least one game, and until he “is completely healed”.

Game Notes

Niese looked so good initially, then completely fell apart. 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, but 8 Ks. It was too ugly to talk about.

In contrast, Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez looked awful at first, but wound up the winner. He was walking and hitting batters like it was his intention, and allowed 15 baserunners in 5 innings, but the futile Flushing offense couldn’t take advantage, leaving a dozen men on base. This game was representative of the three-game series, and the Marlins-Mets meetups in general, in that it always seems like the Fish are trying to give the game away but the Mets appear unable to take it from them. Ever since Joe Girardi left, the Marlins have been a fundamentally flawed team that finds ways to lose ballgames — a function of having a tiny payroll and playing kids who should be getting seasoning in the minors. Yet, they’re a game and a half ahead of the Mets in the standings.

Ah, yes, the standings. The Mets gained no ground on the Phillies, who were swept by the Astros in four straight, nor the Braves, who lost their last three. They’re once again under .500 and 10 games back in the NL East.

But let’s try to be positive. For example, David Wright is definitely “in the zone”, as he had two more hits including a monstrous homer in the first. Angel Pagan is also long beyond his mini-slump, as he collected two more hits, including a double.

Another positive: Manny Acosta threw two perfect innings, expending just 18 pitches in the process.

Further, Jeff Francoeur had two hits, an RBI, and a walk (!) and made a fantastic catch at the wall in the sixth of a Wes Helms liner … but allowed a blooper by Brett Hayes to bounce into the stands only minutes later.

Speaking of Francoeur, during the postgame coverage on SNY, the ebullient rightfielder was quoted as saying “…after they scored the ninth run, it was pretty much over.” Hmm … at that point, it was 9-4. Not to nitpick, but about 24 years earlier, there were two teams that came back from 10-1 deficits to win. Being down five runs doesn’t seem so insurmountable compared to being down nine. Maybe that defeatist mentality is something solely specific to Francoeur — or maybe it is something that has been cultivated by Jerry Manuel over the past two and a half years. You’ve been watching this team over that period, so you be the judge.

So much for the positive.

Next Mets Game

The Mets host the red-hot Houston Astros for a weekend series in Flushing beginning Friday at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces former Met Nelson Figueroa.


Mets Game 118: Win Over Astros

Mets 3 Astros 1

Closer? Who needs a closer?

The Mets began the After K-Rod Era in fine style, taking a close one from the Astros — and sealing the deal with a save by Hisanori Takahashi.

But see, that’s the difference that sets the great teams like the Mets apart from all the rest: DEPTH. Only a team as deep and talented as the Mets can lose an $11.5M closer and not even blink.

Game Notes

Jonathon Niese threw another gem, but wasn’t around long enough to earn a decision. Niese went a strong 7 innings, allowing one run on 7 hits, walking none, striking out 5.

David Wright broke out of his lengthy slump, going 3-for-4 and scoring the winning run in the ninth when he scampered home from third on a slider that got away.

Carlos Beltran‘s bat also showed signs of life — he had two hits including his second homerun of the season, a solo shot that accounted for the Mets’ first run of the ballgame.

The only other Met to swat an extra-base hit was Jeff Francoeur, whose ninth-inning triple scored Beltran with an insurance run.

When the Mets are playing in the NLDS in October, we will all look back at this game, and the exit of K-Rod, as the turning point of the season — the start of when everything began to go right. Or not.

I am traveling for work this week and couldn’t get the game on MLB.com so wound up listening to the WFAN broadcast of this game via my iPhone MLB GameDay app. I can’t decide what is most annoying about the radio broadast: the “Cars for Kids” ad, the NY Auto Giant ad, or Wayne Hagin. Maybe it’s easier to say that the most annoying thing was that I couldn’t get MLB.com video to work.

Next Mets Game

The Mets play in Houston again on Tuesday night at 8:05 PM. Johan Santana will face Nelson Figueroa in a matchup of pitchers facing their original organization.