Yesterday was a crazy day. You see, I’m a graduate student. A graduate student who needs to finish his incredibly complicated thesis on biased media coverage of unions within the next two months. Throw onto that that my Graduate Assistant union is planning a massive rally to fight against budget cuts on Thursday (I’m the communication director for my union) and the fact that I have a pretty much full-time job as a writer and days like yesterday are bound to happen.
The Jays decided another fairly major trade was going to drop on the one day I had no time to comment.
Luckily, I have a small window of time this morning to go through it and I have to say, it’s a confusing one.
Just a little over three days after trading face-of-the-franchise Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, a deal I still love to death, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos flipped Napoli to the Texas Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco.
There are two sides to this deal and I cannot decide which one I’m on.
On the one hand, I am a firm believer that Mike Napoli is extremely underrated both at the plate and in the field. He also provided the Jays with something they needed; a proven catcher who could help ease J.P. Arencibia into his starting role and a guy who can hit left-handers well enough to start at first base and DH a few times a week.
Frank Francisco, however, comes to a team already stacked with right-handed relievers what with returnees Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Josh Roenicke, Casey Janssen, and Scott Richmond along with recent acquisitions Carlos Villanueva, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.
On the other hand, Francisco is a terrific pitcher; his xFIPs over the last three seasons are 3.34, 3.53, 3.31 and he has a career K/9 rate at 10.01, including 10.25 last season.
Francisco is also very solid against lefthanders posting a 2.93 FIP against them and holding them to a .203 opponent’s batting average. He did, however, walk left-handers at a much higher rate than righties, still he’s good enough against them that taking only one lefty north with the team is a possibility. That might not be the worst thing given the Jays are a little thin in that regard; really only David Purcey and Jesse Carlson are possibilities and neither should scare anybody.
I like Francisco as a pitcher a lot, but this is still a bit confusing. My guess is that Anthopoulos isn’t quite done yet. I said it before, perhaps Jason Frasor has pitched his last game in a Jays’ uniform; this seems to only add to that feeling.
It’s also possible that Napoli was resistant to signing in Toronto. He is arbitration eligible and already submitted his number to MLB at $6.0-million. Anthopoulos, on the other hand, has said he will only negotiate multi-year deals after the submission deadline for arbitration so it is conceivable that Napoli had no interest in signing for more than one year.
This, of course, is aimless speculation and the Jays could be in the same position with Francisco who filed for arbitration with the Rangers and was unable to reach a settlement with them before the deadline.
Either way, it would seem Anthopoulos has something else in the works. I can’t see him breaking camp with 9 viable right-handed relievers.
Since Dotel and Rauch were just signed to deals, one would assume they aren’t going anywhere so that leaves the holdovers and Villanueva as possible trade bait.
I also think that a Vladdy Guerrero signing could be up-and-coming too.
Which reliever would you consider moving if you had to move one (or two) of them?
Do you think this was a good trade?