No, I don’t really think so; even with my irrational following of Erik Bedard.
Jeff Francis hoped that rest and rehab would rid him of the shoulder pain that dogged him throughout the 2008 season. It did not and now he is headed to exploratory surgery under the assumption that the surgeon will find a torn labrum. Thus ends any realistic hope for Francis pitching in 2009.
As a result of this, we learn for certain a possible cause for Francis’ rather poor showing this past season. Francis had been a pitcher on the rise, posting increasing values each year from 2005 through 2007 and seemed poised to break into the upper echelon of pitchers following his, and the Rockies, success in 2007. That was not to be as both the Rockies and Francis faltered badly.
Interestingly enough, Francis’ stuff did not exhibit much difference in 2008 as compared to previous years. His control was a tad worse, but nothing even noteworthy. His velocity stayed constant and his batted ball and pitch result profiles did as well. Yet, the walks went up and the strikeouts down.
Francis provides a nice counterpoint to what has seemed like an endless stream of ridiculously team-friendly arbitration buyouts signed this winter. Not to say that Francis’ contract (he signed a four year deal in November of 2006 that bought out his arbitration years and comes with a $7 million team option on his first market year) isn’t a good one for Colorado; it is just that we need to be reminded about the risk in securing contracts to pitchers. They get hurt a lot.
Lucky for the Rockies that they have that amazingly attractive team option on Francis that allows them to keep him around through 2011, because it gives them all of 2010 to evaluate post-surgery Jeff Francis and if they can, or will still want to, count him as a pillar of the organization going forward.
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