Tag:Jeff Francis
Posted on: August 14, 2011 11:49 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Belt belts two home runs

Belt

By Evan Brunell

Jack McKeon, Marlins:  Giants first baseman Brandon Belt showed the Giants (and opponent Florida) that if Aubrey Huff's recent resurgence isn't for real, the Giants will be just fine. Belt... well, "belted" two solo home runs on Sunday to pace San Francisco over the Marlins. Ryan Vogelsong won his 10th, trimming his ERA to 2.47. But neither of them get the prize -- that goes to Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who told the Associated Press that there was no bad blood between the two teams as a result of the Buster Posey broken leg suffered at the hands of Scott Cousins earlier in the year. "Guys get carried away," McKeon said. "Vogel ... Volkswagen ... whatever his name is -- he's lucky he didn't have to face Drysdale or Gibson or one of those guys. You would get a shave and a haircut real quick."

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: Boy, is Toronto sure glad it finally called up Brett Lawrie. The rookie has been hot so far in his early career, and delivered a game-tying double in the ninth inning that the Blue Jays would go on to win the next inning. It was his only hit in four trips to the plate, but Lawrie's already shown a knack for getting pivotal hits and is hitting .355 on the year. He's rallied the troops by wearing his heart on his sleeve and is quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Nick Markakis, Orioles: Markakis has been a major disappointment not just this season, but for a few years now. Markakis followed up two strong years with his best season yet in 2008 as a 24-year-old, raking 48 doubles and 20 home runs with a .306/.406/.491 mark, but he tumbled off by close to 100 points in OPS over the next two seasons. This year's been even worse, as he came into Sunday's game against Detroit with a .280/.333/.391 mark. He exacted some measure of help Sunday by going 3 for 5 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBI. It's something.



Jason Marquis, Diamondbacks: Marquis' first two starts for the Diamondbacks didn't go too well, giving up eight runs (seven earned) in four innings two starts ago, following that up with another four-inning stint, coughing up seven runs (four earned). That made Sunday promising, as Marquis had given up one run through 3 1/3, but a line drive off his shin the inning previous flared up all of a sudden and he tumbled to the ground in a heap -- as did batter Josh Thole, who was plunked by Marquis' errant pitch when he took a dive. The diagnosis? Broken shin. Ouch.

Jordan Lyles, Astros: Lyles had a tough opponent in Hiroki Kuroda, who hurled seven scoreless, but Lyles didn't help matters by blowing up for seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. It's the second straight time that Lyles has given up seven runs, and he drops to an unsightly 1-7 on the year and his career. His 5.32 ERA belies a pitcher that might need some more seasoning in the minors, but he's also just 20, and there's plenty better things on the horizon for the right-hander.

Jeff Francis, Royals: Leading up to the trade deadline, Francis was looking like a nice left-hander to slot in the middle of the rotation, especially in the NL. Alas, since then he's been anything but and turned in a six-run outing in just 3 2/3 innings, balls rifling all over the park with 10 hits. Francis also walked two and struck out just one in what was just an overall bad day at the park. His ERA is all the way up to 4.76 now and that luster? It's gone.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:26 pm
 

Players that could be dealt before August 31

Rodriguez
By Evan Brunell

Although the trade deadline expired on Sunday, it... didn't. At least, not really.

What did expire was the non-waiver trade deadline, in which teams can trade players without restrictions that aren't built into a player's contract such as no-trade clauses and the like. However, trades can still occur for the rest of the season -- players just have to pass through waivers. These waivers are revocable, so if a team claims a player, the original team can revoke waivers. However, it then cannot deal the player, and if he goes on waivers a second time and is claimed, he is lost. That team can also choose not to revoke waivers and give away the player and his contract. This is what happened to Alex Rios when he joined Chicago in 2009 when Toronto no longer felt like paying his deal.

The original team and claiming team can also work out a trade, but a trade can only happen with the team that placed a claim. If the player passes through waivers, he can then be traded to any team. Most teams place the majority of players on waivers, both to hide players the team really wants to deal and to broaden options. Waiver claim priority works in order of worst record to best in the same league, then it moves to the worst record in the other league. These types of trades can happen through September, although August 31st is effectively the cutoff point.

While there have been September trades, they are few and far in-between for two reasons. First is that with the expansion to a 40-man rosters, most teams no longer struggle for depth. Secondly, and more important, is the fact that any player outside of the organization acquired after August 31 is not eligible for the playoffs.

Got all that? Good. Let's take a look at nine players or positions of interest who could be on the move in August (and possibly September).

Heath Bell, Padres
: Heath Bell surprisingly stayed at home at the trade deadline while setup man Mike Adams was sent out. This came as a surprise, as everyone assumed that Bell would be dealt. Clearly, the Padres didn't get an offer that was worth giving up the two compensatory draft picks they would have received once Bell rejected arbitration and signed a lucrative contract with another team, or re-upped with San Diego on a hometown-discount deal.

Except Bell said he plans to accept the Padres' offer of arbitration if they can't come to an accord on a contract. That's how motivated Bell is to stay in town, so the Padres can no longer bank on the compensatory draft picks. Unless traded, Bell is staying a Padre. That could motivate GM Jed Hoyer to kick him out in August, although with a $7.5 million contract on the season, Bell figures to be claimed by many teams who could use a top-flight reliever at little cost.

Randy Choate, Marlins: Not exactly a big name, I know, but Choate is the kind of player that gets dealt every August. He's a left-handed reliever who can plug in a gap for a contender. The Yankees, Red Sox and many other teams would be interested in Choate, who is signed for 2012 at just $1.5 million. He's got peanuts left on his $1 million deal this season and has a sterling 1.66 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. That's not much, but Choate's value is tied up in being able to get left-handed hitters out.

As we see every October, that's incredibly valuable, and Choate has held lefties to a .131/.185/.123 mark on the year, which comes out to a .398 OPS. That's really low. Choate has been linked to the Yankees, but he would have no shortage of suitors if the Marlins made him available.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds: There was plenty of consternation as to why the Reds stood pat at the trade deadline, as well as why Hernandez wasn't moved. With top prospect Devin Mesoraco waiting in the wings in Triple-A, one would think that GM Walt Jocketty would want to capitalize on Hernandez's value, especially to the Giants. Alas, nothing transpired, not even once the Giants and Reds completed their game on Sunday, which some felt might be holding up a deal.

Hernandez is still a good bet to go, even if Cincinnati climbs back into the race thanks to the presence of Mesoraco, as well as help at other spots that the backstop would fetch in a deal. If they begin rebuilding, they have even less need for Hernandez. The only problem is that catching depth is so thin in the majors and Hernandez's salary is so cheap that, like Bell, plenty of teams figure to be interested in placing a claim and blocking a deal.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: For some reason, GM Jim Hendry stood pat at the trade deadline and didn't bother to try and convince third-baseman Aramis Ramirez that accepting a deal would be to his benefit. Hendry wants to keep the core of a 90-loss team together for some reason, so even bandying about Ramirez as a possible piece to be moved probably is pointless. But if Hendry has a chance of heart, Ramirez might too.

You see, Ramirez loves Chicago and has his family based there -- except in mid-August, his wife and children pack up and head back to the Dominican Republic. Thus, where he plays to finish off the year becomes less important once his family leaves, which could convince Ramirez to waive his no-trade deal. If that happened, Ramirez could interest the Angels and White Sox, to name two teams. The White Sox would allow the ability to stay in the city, but the roadblock to that is that the Pale Hose are not looking to add payroll.

Athletics outfielder: Oakland really needs to subtract at least one of its outfielders in Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham or David DeJesus, as I mentioned Monday when looking at teams that stood pat at the deadline. Any of these outfielders can help a team, and Willingham and DeJesus may have a pulse in their bat if they can get out of the Coliseum. Free-agent compensation matters here, and Willingham will fetch a price commensurate with two compensatory draft picks, as he's currently set to be a Type-A free agent even if only tenuously. DeJesus is a Type-B free agent and Crisp does not need compensation.

Simply put, Oakland needs to look ahead at 2012 and what it can do to bolster the team. It's one thing if all they're being offered are organizational guys for these players. At that point, GM Billy Beane is probably best suited to just hang onto the players. But Willingham and DeJesus aren't the kind of players that would have scrubs offered. There's real value in these players, and given the unlikelihood of both returning to town, Beane needs to jump on any interest.

Jim Thome, Twins: Here's an interesting name. The Twins, if they fall out of the race, have no need for Thome. In fact, they may be looked upon as doing a favor to Thome in trading him to a contender for a chance to win a World Series in what is likely Thome's final season. Just three home runs away from 600, some have speculated that he will be moved after he reaches the milestone. But given how impressively the Twins draw and the fact Thome doesn't have deep roots with the team makes that hard to believe. He's a candidate to be traded before and after 600 home runs.

The Phillies have been linked to Thome, which would be a fantastic option. Philadelphia is obviously headed toward October, and Thome would be the big bat off the bench that becomes so paramount. Just like left-handed relief specialists, pinch-hitters increase in importance as the amount of games decrease. And if the Phillies somehow make it to the World Series, Thome is a fine DH. Jason Giambi is another player who could fit this mold.

Right-handed hitting platoon outfielder: Might not sound terribly appealing to discuss outfielders that wouldn't start regularly, but as has been mentioned, shoring up depth at the major-league level takes on added importance for the postseason. To be sure, several teams need starting outfielders like any of the A's outfielders or perhaps even the Twins' Jason Kubel, who is also a candidate to be traded in August. But players that can help counteract left-handed pitchers like Choate but don't require a full-time job and don't cost a lot of money are valuable.

Playing time and big bucks aren't necessary for players like Scott Hairston, Jeff Francouer, and Ryan Spilborghs, who can come off the bench and serve as injury replacements, pinch-hitters or platoon outfielders. Hairston and Francouer, especially, have noted success against left-handed pitching and were names to watch at the trade deadline for that very reason. Francouer, in particular, is used to being traded in August, as the Rangers acquired him last season on the 31st to fill the exact role that a team would want him this year for: to hit lefties.

Jeff Francis, Royals: The last two names on this list are both left-handed starters, but that's not why Francis is on the list. No, he's on the list because he's a cheap, back-end option in the rotation. While there might be some better pitchers on the market (see the next name), Francis would work well in the middle of the rotation, perhaps the last starter in a postseason four-man rotation. Injuries will continue to happen between now and the end of the year, and one of those injuries could be a big blow to a contender's rotation -- much like Boston has to deal with the absence of Clay Buchholz.

Francis has soaked up 135 2/3 innings on the year with a 4.38 ERA, which is impressive given he pitches in the AL albeit in a weak division. His peripherals are strong, so that 4.38 ERA isn't a fluke. He can be a real shot in the arm for a contender. While the Royals could really use him in the rotation, which has yet to be anything less than awful, Francis is also a free agent and will certainly parlay his season into a nice contract from a team closer to contending, so K.C. shouldn't be worried about long-term effects of trading Francis, only who they can get in return.

Wandy Rodriguez, Astros: Rodriguez is a step up from Francis, but it's not entirely clear how big of a step up he is. He's working on his fourth straight season of an ERA below 4, but there's serious question among American Leaguers as to whether he could withstand a league switch, which depresses his suitors and the price for the left-hander. His contract is also looking like a pill, as he has $34 million due him from 2011-13 with a club option for 2014 -- but becomes a player option with a trade, and not many teams have interest in Rodriguez choosing to stay with his club for $13 million in a year where he will be 35.

The Astros are willing to eat a good chunk of the contract though, even if they refuse to eat the $17 million that might have made Rodriguez a Yankee before the trade deadline. If the Yankees or another team want Houston to eat that amount of money, it would take a strong prospect surrendered. Rodriguez is a good pitcher, but it seems his stock has dropped just below that tier, so it may be difficult for Houston and other teams to agree to both a return and how much cash the Astros would cover. Still, he's certainly not being claimed on waivers and will be a top-end option for any desperate teams.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Friday afternoon trade rumor roundup

Pence

By Evan Brunell

Today's the last weekday prior to the trade deadline, which expires on Sunday. Will there be a flurry of activity much like there was Wednesday when Colby Rasmus was part of a three-team deal and Carlos Beltran headed to San Francisco? It's too early to tell, but here's the latest rumors, headlined by Hunter Pence. If you're looking for information on Ubaldo Jimenez, we've broken that off into its own story -- head here and check it out.

HUNTER PENCE

MLB Trade Deadline
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says the Reds are on Michael Bourn, Houston's center fielder. An odd fit, given the team has Drew Stubbs, but Stubbs has been struggling this year and Bourn can impact Cincinnati at the top of the lineup. The team is also in on Hunter Pence, but Rosenthal tabs Pence as the "Phillies' to lose."

On Thursday, a deal between Philadelphia and Houston was so close that Pence was told during the game that night he was being removed due to a trade, as Heyman reports, but he never came out of the game. That's because a potential deal Philadelphia would have engineered with Jonathan Singleton, Jared Cosart and a third piece fell through when the 'Stros wanted Domonic Brown. Both sides are so close, though, it's hard to imagine a trade doesn't eventually happen. Heyman, for his part, thinks a deal will happen if it's Brown and Cosart for Pence.

However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post isn't ready to count out Atlanta. The 'Stros appear to prefer the Braves' prospects, but Atlanta refuses to deal Mike Minor. If that changes, Pence could be a Brave. Will that be enough to keep him out of Philly, a team Heyman says will "do whatever it takes" to get Pence?
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Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: April 6, 2011 12:19 pm
 

Pierre replaces Dunn as Chicago's DH

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Juan PierreWith Adam Dunn out of the White Sox's lineup due to an emergency appendectomy, Ozzie Guillen's replaced him in the lineup with… Juan Pierre?

Pierre is in Chicago's lineup as the team's designated hitter, leading off for Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Royals and left-hander Jeff Francis.

Pierre has 14 career home runs, while Dunn has 355 homers in 733 fewer career plate appearances. Pierre does have 469 more stolen bases in his career than Dunn.

Pierre had started every game this season in left field, so it's probably more accurate that Lastings Milledge is in the lineup because of Dunn's absence. Milledge is in left, batting seventh.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Despite struggles, Hochevar named K.C. 'ace'

By Evan Brunell

HochevarThe Royals have announced their rotation, and it has Luke Hochevar at the top, slated for the opening day assignment as the Kansas City Star reveals. Following Hochevar is Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen and Vin Mazzaro, although Mazzaro will be held back as the club does not need a fifth starter until April 16. That will allow an extra relief pitcher to be carried and for K.C. to continue evaluating some bullpen pitchers on the bubble.

Hochevar has a career 5.60 ERA, so he's hardly worthy of the billing. It just goes to show you how dire the rotation is as they await arrivals of pitchers like Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Jake Odorizzi, among others. 

While Hochevar did improve greatly on his career ERA by posting a 4.81 mark in 2010, that came in just 103 innings as he struggled with injury and posted a 3.2 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9. His advanced pitching metrics, such as FIP, are far more kind to Hochevar, with FIP giving Hochevar a 3.93 mark. The issue that plagues Hochevar the most comes with stranding baserunners, as league average hovers around 71 percent each year. Given that strand rate is influenced by factors largely out of the pitcher's control, it's been argued that a poor (or good) strand rate shouldn't be used to evaluate a pitcher's effectiveness.

However, Hochevar's strand rate hasn't cracked 65 percent in the three years of extended playing time he's had in the majors. In fact, that 65 percent happened in 2010, also the year he's posted his best ERA, FIP and xFIP numbers. That speaks to something particularly damaging Hochevar's ERA, such as a porous bullpen that constantly gives up inherited baserunners. That can't be the entire cause of it, however. 

Other factors that could come into play is the defense. As a groundball pitcher, Hochevar induces a ton of grounders which is good from a BABIP perspective, but bad when you have a poor defense behind you. That was certainly the case in Kansas City the last few years, especially when the disastrous Yuniesky Betancourt played short.

Another reason could be that Hochevar simply doesn't function well with baserunners on, whether mentally or from the stretch. Hochevar's K/9 rate dips from 7.02 pitching with no one on to 6.15 with men on base. His walk rate also spikes to 4.37 from 2.34, so it appears Hochevar struggles to pitch from the stretch.

There doesn't appear to be one specific smoking gun for Hochevar's problems with stranded runners, although one should point to his struggles pitching out of the stretch as a primary cause. If he can somehow arrest that issue, Hochevar could evolve into a solid back of the rotation starter. As it is, however, Hochevar would struggle to crack the rotation in a lot of cities, but in K.C. he happens to be the ace.

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Posted on: January 14, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: January 14, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Report: Royals to sign Francis

FrancisJeff Francis is headed to the Royals, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.

The left-hander certainly picked a good spot to go to, as the Royals' starting pitching rotation lacks even one "for sure" starter in no danger of losing his job.

The rotation, expected to be headlined (not the Leonardo DiCaprio-type headlining... more like "The Situation" in Jersey Shore) by Luke Hochevar and Francis figures to slide in the No. 2 spot with Vin Mazarro, Kyle Davies and Sean O'Sullivan behind him. 

Once the beacon of Colorado's future, Jeffrey Franchise finished 2010 with an even 5.00 ERA in 104 1/3 innings (20 games, 19 starts) after missing 2009 thanks to surgery to repair a torn labrum in the left shoulder. 

Francis also finished 2008 with an ERA north of 5.00 at 5.01, but prior to that had a two-year run of success, helping lead the Rockies to the 2007 World Series with a 4.22 ERA in 215 1/3 innings, posting a 17-9 record.

Francis was very unlucky in 2010, as his xFIP revealed a mark of 3.94. His ERA was much higher thanks to a poor defense behind him and poor rate of stranding baserunners. Working against Francis, however, is his propensity to be hit hard as he's given up just over 20 percent of line drives (league average: around 18 percent) in all batted balls in 2008 and 2010.

Someone who struggles to crack 88-mph with his fastball isn't quite a solution for the AL, but Francis is extremely stingy with the walks (1.98 BB/9 in 2010). With just a small change in luck, Francis could end up giving the Royals 180 average to above-average innings in the rotation, which is nothing to sneeze at.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 10, 2011 10:04 am
 

Rangers may not be done yet

Jon Daniels Coming off a World Series appearance, the Rangers have been anything but content this offseason. Few teams have been as active in the free agent market as Texas.

General manager Jon Daniels has reached high -- Cliff Lee -- and missed, but also reacted by signing the likes of Adrian Beltre and Yorvit Torrealba along with reliever Arthur Rhodes and took a risk on former Cy Young Award-winner Brandon Webb. The team was also in on trades for Zack Greinke and Matt Garza.

Under new ownership, the Rangers have been aggressive and shown they aren't content with what they've done. That hasn't stopped even after an offseason spending spree.

"There are still some things we're going to look into," Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "This may be the club we go to camp with. We're confident if it is.

"But there's a chance we'll try to improve as well."

Wilson notes the team could still be interested in other "risk-reward types" such as Jeff Francis and Bartolo Colon.

There's also the off chance the team could go after the top remaining free agent, Rafael Soriano, and move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. It may be a long-shot, but with the Rangers, it seems anything's possible.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm
 

Cards GM likes club's defense and more

In another impossibly slow day in between Christmas and New Year's, we bring you a roundup of the latest news, a term to be used loosely...

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak admitted he sacrificed defense in favor of offense this offseason by adding Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot. Berkman is impossibly being asked to play right field when he has no business being back in the outfield while Theriot was moved to second by the Cubs for a reason -- and dumped onto the Dodgers who then dumped The Riot on the Cards. Ah, but --

    "I'm of the belief that the defense question is being overstated," Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Overall, the idea that we've lessened our club that much defensively I guess I understand from the comment that we traded Brendan. But I don't see the big change. I think this is going to be a good defensive club, if not better."

    Hogwash. Remember this quote when the Cardinals are falling apart on defense, move Berkman to left and go on the hunt for a better middle infielder to replace either Theriot or Skip Schumaker, expected to man second.
  • The Nationals saw Cuban defector Yunesky Maya named as the Dominican Winter League's pitcher of the year. Maya posted a 1.32 ERA in eight starts, whiffing 42 batters in 41 innings as MASN reports.

    Maya had a 5.88 ERA in five starts for Washington at the end of the season but will be looked upon to help deepen a rotation that will be without Stephen Strasburg for most, if not all, of 2011.

    The Rookie of the Year award, meanwhile, went to Eury Perez, who played at Class A in 2010 and is evolving into a possible leadoff man for the Nats in a couple years.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman reports the Red Sox are still looking at left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, who reportedly wants three years and around $15 million. No wonder he's still on the market.

    Also no word on if Fuentes is intimidated by the length of time the Red Sox have spent staring at him, which has been all offseason. Would creep me out.
  • Jeff Francis has received plenty of interest, but no contract offers as the Canadian tells the Vancouver Province.

    There is rumored interest from the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Pirates, but Francis is keeping his cool.

    "It's exciting for people to read because they think there's lots of things happening," Francis said, "but it's not as fast-paced as it's all made out to be. Teams are interested, but that's about it at this point."

    Jeffrey Franchise helped lead the Rockies to the 2007 World Series but has been plagued by injuries since, having surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009 and struggling to produce in 2010.

  • A sad Christmas for Matt Kemp, who split up with singer Rihanna just before the holiday after an 11-month romance as the Toronto Sun reveals. Perhaps Kemp's focus will be improved in 2011 after questions around his desire and relationship with Rihanna surfaced as questions in his inconsistent 2010. Of course, if he continues to not produce, there will be those who say he's taking the breakup hard.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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