Tag:Frank Francisco
Posted on: April 24, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 3:27 pm

Without Feliz, Rangers have closer question


By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rangers headed into the 2011 season fully invested in Neftali Feliz as their closer, trading Frank Francisco in the offseason and moving Alexi Ogando into the rotation to start the spring.

That left a team formerly flush with potential closers in a bind when Feliz was put on the disabled list on Saturday.

In Saturday's save situation, Ron Washington turned to veteran lefty Darren Oliver (above, middle) to get the last three outs against the Royals.

"We've got no bona fide closer right now," Washington said on Saturday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's that simple."

Feliz was. WIth a 1.08 ERA in nine outings with six strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings, Feliz was a prefect 5 for 5 in save situations this season.

Now, Washington could go with Oliver, Darren O'Day or Arthur Rhodes to close out games. Of the trio, Rhodes has the most closing experience with 32 career saves, the last coming with the Marlins in 2008. The most he's had in one season is nine with Oakland in 2004. 

The right-handed O'Day (above, left) had two saves for the Rangers in 2009, the only two of his career.

Oliver's save on Saturday was the fourth of his career. He had one last season and two as a rookie for the Rangers in 1994. He also set a record on Saturday, becoming the oldest Ranger to record a save. Goose Gossage had one at 40 years, 18 days in 1991. Oliver is 40 years, 199 days. But that record may not last long, Rhodes is 41.

"I figured if you're 40 years old, you're probably going to be in a lot of history books," Oliver told Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "This is probably just one of them. Just think if Arthur saves it tomorrow, he'll be the oldest one."

Ogando, 27, looked like a closer in waiting last season, pitching 44 games out of the bullpen. He had a 1.30 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitch. While the Rangers' toying with Feliz in the rotation drew many of the headlines in the spring, Ogando quietly won the fifth starter's spot and has been excellent. In four starts this season, he's 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA, picking up the victory against the Royals on Saturday.

Francisco saved 25 games for the Rangers in 2009 and two last season before being supplanted by Feliz. The Rangers sent him to Toronto in exchange for Mike Napoli, who is trying to help fill the offensive void left by Josh Hamilton. Since Hamilton was injured on April 12, Napoli has started five games, with hits in his last three, including a homer on Saturday. He's caught twice, played first twice and served as the DH on Saturday.

Either Francisco or Ogando would have given the Rangers something the trio of Rhodes, O'Day and Oliver do not -- a no-doubt, go-to guy in the ninth inning. 

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Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:50 pm

Morrow knocked around in rehab game

By Matt Snyder

Brandon Morrow will eventually be the Blue Jays' No. 2 starter, but he began the season on the disabled list with a forearm injury. The plan the Blue Jays have laid out for him is to make two rehab starts in the minor leagues. His first one was Thursday night at Class A-Advanced Dunedin, and he wasn't what you would call in major-league form.

In three innings, Morrow gave up eight hits, five runs (four earned) and a walk. He uncorked two wild pitches, too -- the same number of hitters he struck out. (MiLB.com scoreboard )

Another member of the Jays' pitching staff followed Morrow with a less-than-stellar outing, too. Potential closer Frank Francisco pitched an inning, giving up two earned runs off a walk and home run.

Interestingly, Dunedin pitcher Deck McGuire followed the two with four shutout innings.

Let's not overreact, though. In the big picture, the two recovering pitchers are just working their way back to health. The results aren't nearly as important as getting in work against actual hitters and not experiencing any setbacks.

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:05 pm

Francisco making progress, but will start on DL

By Matt Snyder

After meeting with the esteemed Dr. James Andrews, likely Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco was given a clean bill of health, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.

"It doesn't hurt," Francisco said.

Still, he will begin the season on the disabled list as he works his arm back into shape. If things progress are planned, Francisco will not miss much of the season.

Meanwhile, another closing option is Octavio Dotel, and he's dealing with hamstring issues. He will throw an inning in a minor-league game Thursday. In doing so, the Blue Jays would still have the option to put Dotel on the disabled list backdated to the last time he threw in major-league action.

The good news for the Jays if both pitchers are forced to start the season on the DL is that they have a third pitcher in the bullpen with recent closing experience in Jon Rauch. He saved 21 games last season. Dotel had 22 saves and Francisco is one year removed from a 25-save season for the Rangers.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:09 pm

Jays field possible opening day lineup

DotelBy Evan Brunell

The Toronto Blue Jays are readying for opening day, deploying a lineup in Tuesday's spring-training game that could be the lineup manager John Farrell trots out for his managerial debut, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports.

That lineup is:

CF Rajai Davis
SS Yunel Escobar
DH Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
2B Aaron Hill
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
RF Juan Rivera
C J.P. Arencibia

The only differences that could occur are Bautista and Encarnacion swapping positions, as EdE isn't expected to play much at the hot corner while that will be Bautista's new home.

Rivera is tabbed for right despite being defensively challenged. Snider is as well, though, and has only 57 games in right to his name in the majors while Rivera has 272. Neither have right field as their primary position but it appears Toronto will have to sacrifice defense given the team's composition.

In other news, Knobler reports that relievers Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel (pictured) may hit the disabled list to start the year, with GM Alex Anthopoulous believing it is possible neither can be ready in time -- but that's not definite.

Francisco felt discomfort during a bullpen session Saturday in his pectoral muscle, but a MRI came back clean. He is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews, which makes one immediately think "Tommy John surgery," but the Jays do not expect that type of news. Meanwhile, Dotel's left hamstring injury has kept him out of major-league spring training games for a week, but tossed an inning Tuesday in a minor-league game. The club expects him to be ready, but if not, Jon Rauch will likely function as closer until both return.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 9:06 pm

Injuries muddle Jays' closer race

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Blue Jays went into camp with no shortage of closers with experience, but no real favorite.

Jon RauchTwo weeks into exhibition games, that apparently hasn't changed much.

"It's premature to say who's in that slot," manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). "The main thing is guys that are taking the ball and getting on the mound are certainly putting themselves in a position to establish roles. So right now, we're not here to say who has that spot locked down."

That points toward Jon Rauch, left, because of injuries to Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco, both scratched from their next scheduled outings because of injuries. Francisco, scheduled to pitch today against the Phillies, was out with a right pectoral injury and Dotel, expected to throw Wednesday and Saturday, has a sore left hamstring.

Rauch, signed two a one-year deal with a team option for 2012 in the offseason, had 21 saves for the Twins last season. Farrell also praised his recent performance, including a scoreless inning against the Phillies on Tuesday.

All three were acquired in the offsesason -- two signings and a trade -- after the team lost Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs to free agency.

Francisco is still expected to be ready for opening day, Farrell said.

"We feel like if we can get him three or four games [more] before we leave camp, he'll be fine," Farrell said. "He's not overtly concerned or overly alarmed. He feels this is a spring training aches and pains type thing that he's going through. The red flag is not up per se with Frankie."

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:45 pm

Wanted: Experienced closer, likes Texas heat

Neftali Feliz

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If Neftali Feliz is starting for the Rangers, it doesn't appear the close is in camp with the defending American League champions.

"I have confidence in Jon Daniels and our scouts," manager Ron Washington told reporters, including ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon on Tuesday. "If that's the case, I'm 100 percent sure they'll go out there and find somebody to close ballgames down for us."

If that's the case, the Rangers will be looking for their seventh different closer in the last seven seasons (defining "closer" as "dude with the most saves."). The last Ranger to lead the team in saves in back-to-back years was Francisco Cordero in 2004-05. Cordero has since been an All-Star for two different teams.

Alexi OgondoThe Rangers' internal candidates appear to be Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando (right). Or the team could go with a closer-by-committee until the trade deadline, also using veteran lefties Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver along with Lowe and Ogando. Prospect Tanner Scheppers is another (remote) possibility. The Rangers traded Frank Francisco, their closer in 2009, to the Blue Jays in exchange for Mike Napoli in the offseason.

As for trade candidates, the team could go out now, or wait until the trade deadline when more candidates would be available.

Among those available could be the Padres Heath Bell, the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and the Orioles' Michael Gonzalez. The Blue Jays have several experienced closers on their roster, including Francisco, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.

If the team waits until the trade deadline, if the Mariners David Aardsma could be available, as well as Cordero, who could be supplanted by Aroldis Chapman (or Nick Masset). Others that could be available include Kevin Gregg, J.J. Putz and Brandon Lyon.

However, Washington did tell reporters in the same sitting that he felt confident enough with the rotation as it is and Feliz in the bullpen. It also appears, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson writes, that Washington would prefer to keep Feliz in the bullpen unless Daniels can get another closer.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:53 pm

Francisco early leader to close for Jays

Frank Francisco It looks as if new Blue Jay Frank Francisco is the early favorite for the closers job, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes.

Francisco is competing with Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel -- also newcomers to Toronto -- for the closer's spot.

"When you look at the guys in that mix, the fact that he attacks lefties with that success rate kind of gives him the edge coming in -- at least on paper," Jays manager John Farrell said.

All three have closing experience. Francisco, 31, had 25 saves in 2009 before Neftali Feliz came along. He also had two saves last year. Left-handers have hit just .214/.318/.315 against Francisco in his career, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio is better against right-handers (3.16) than left-handers (1.93).

Dotel, 37, is joining his 12th team of his career. He has 105 career saves, including 22 last season (21 for the Pirates and one for the Dodgers). He had 36 for the Astros and A's in 2004.

Francisco and Dotel each have career ERAs of 3.75, while the third member competing for that spot, Jon Rauch, has a 3.71 career ERA.

Rauch, 32, had 21 saves for the Twins last season and 47 in his career.

Rauch and Dotel signed as free agents with the Blue Jays, while Francisco came from Texas in exchange for Mike Napoli.

"I played there for six years and I didn't feel comfortable anymore," Francisco said. "They had a great, great staff and a great group of guys, but I wanted to see a change and see myself establish in the bilge leagues, like a closer -- not a setup man -- but a real closer. That's my dream."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2011 5:17 pm

Napoli, Francisco sign with new teams

Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli exchanged arbitration numbers with the Angels just 11 days ago. Two teams later, he's avoided going to arbitration with the Rangers by agreeing on a $5.8 million deal, as first reported by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

The catcher/first baseman was traded to the Blue Jays in the Vernon Wells deal on January 21, then four days later moved to Texas for Frank Francisco. When an arbitration-eligible player is traded at this stage in the year, the team arbitration figure goes with him, meaning the Rangers were tied to the $5.3 million the Angels submitted. Today's agreement leans more toward the $6.1 million Napoli was seeking.

Napoli, 29, batted .238 with 26 homers for the Angels last season. In Texas, he'll be a super-utility player, catching on occasion, acting as designated hitter when Michael Young is in the field and playing first base against some left-handers in place of Mitch Moreland.

UPDATE: Hey, look at that. Minutes after news of Napoli's deal broke, the Blue Jays tweeted that they reached agreement with Francisco on a $4 million deal to avoid arbitration. Francisco had asked for $4.875 million while the Rangers set the team number at $3.5 million.

-- David Andriesen

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com