The Post Where I Praise Dayton Moore

And the winner of the award for Best Free Agent Signing Of The Winter goes to… Dayton Moore? Wait, seriously? Who counted these votes?

January 14th, 2011 – the day that up became down, right became left, and FanGraphs writes that Moore got the best deal of the winter in free agency. But, here we are – the Royals just signed Jeff Francis to a one year contract for 2011 that will pay him just $2 million, and if he stays healthy and pitches well, could earn him up to a whopping $4 million. To put it in other terms, he just signed for the same amount of guaranteed money as Melvin Mora, and if he hits enough incentives, he might end up making as much as Bill Hall. This is, quite simply, a steal for Kansas City.

Francis happens to be the somewhat unlucky owner of three things that significantly drove down his market value – a fastball that isn’t as good as it was when he was a first round pick in 2002, a medical report card that includes the words “shoulder surgery”, and an ERA over 5.00 in each of the last two seasons he has pitched. The combination of question marks about his health, stuff, and performance served to drive his price down this winter to a point that I would argue goes beyond reason. Let’s tackle these three issues one by one.

1. Missing Velocity?

For whatever reason, it has become popular to talk about Francis as a guy who has lost significant velocity. I’ve had conversations with team officials where they mentioned the deterioration of his stuff, and around the game, he’s viewed as a guy who simply doesn’t throw as hard as he used to. To some extent, this is true, as he did used to throw harder than he does now – back in 2005.

He broke into the league with a fastball that averaged 88.5 MPH, but it quickly fell off, and he’s been sitting in the 86 MPH range for the last five years. In fact, the 87.2 MPH average fastball velocity he showed last year was the highest he’s had since his second year with the Rockies. While he’s not going to blow anyone away with his heater, the idea that his arm problems have led to a significant drop-off in stuff isn’t supported by the evidence.

2. Injury Risk?

Due to arm surgery that sidelined him for all of 2009 and half of 2010, Francis is seen as something of a health risk. Given that he has only thrown 250 innings over the last three years, that’s understandable to a point, but medical procedures for pitchers have advanced significantly over the last ten years, and simply are not the death knell they once were.

Does anyone care that Tim Hudson had surgery and missed almost all of the 2009 season? What about Josh Johnson? Chris Carpenter? C.J. Wilson? A.J. Burnett? These guys are often considered to be workhorses now, but each have major arm problems in their medical file. From 2005 to 2007, Francis threw 598 innings, and established himself as a reliable every-fifth-day guy. He doesn’t have a long history of arm problems. His shoulder hurt, he had surgery, and he got it fixed. He doesn’t have leprosy. In a winter where Carl Pavano and Rafael Soriano are landing multi-year deals, the injury concerns for Francis seem to be somewhat overblown.

3. Bad Pitcher?

Finally, the ERA. I won’t spend too much time on this, because you can probably guess where this is going, but Francis’ combined 2008 and 2010 performance give him a 5.01 ERA, but only a 4.29 xFIP. The difference is, as always, BABIP and HR/FB rate. Francis allowed a .315 BABIP in 2008 and a .322 mark last year, which earned him the hittable label and prevented him from stranding runners, driving up his runs allowed total. You know what team has the lowest UZR in baseball over the last three years? The Colorado Rockies, with a -109.1 total (Brad Hawpe accounts for a whopping -59 runs of that total by himself).

Now, there’s some evidence to suggest that Coors Field might inflate BABIP, and part of the Rockies atrocious defensive ratings could be due to a park factor, but even if that is true, that is also something that is still out of Francis’ control and won’t be following him to Kansas City. Likewise, we shouldn’t overly surprised that a pitcher who has to spend half his time pitching at altitude had a higher than average HR/FB ratio. Let’s not get so caught up in the humidor that we stop giving Colorado pitchers any benefit for having to overcome a challenging home environment.

I’m not saying Francis is the best pitcher in baseball, but he has a pretty specific set of demonstrated skills that have been proven to work in the big leagues. He’s a lefty who pounds the strike zone, gets a decent amount of grounders, and misses enough bats to get a strikeout when he really needs it. His change-up is a legitimate weapon, so he doesn’t have much of a platoon split. His career numbers are pretty solid, especially for a guy who has spent his whole career in Colorado.

In a market where mediocre relievers are commanding decent money, there’s no reason why a talented 30-year-old lefty with decent ability and a pretty decent 2010 pitching line should have been ignored the way Francis was. He got caught in the perfect storm of velocity bias, ERA bias, and fear of injured pitchers, but kudos to Dayton Moore for overlooking these superficial problems and finding a pretty solid pitcher for bench player money.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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jaywrong
Member
jaywrong
5 years 5 months ago

Could be a tie with Harang, no?

merizobeach
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merizobeach
5 years 5 months ago

Pat Burrell.

MauerPower
Member
5 years 5 months ago

Nice article. I was surprised Francis was so forgotten. Personally I think this is a good place for him. If he pitches solid enough he could even see himself being delt to a contender near the deadline.

hunterfan
Guest
hunterfan
5 years 5 months ago

I come not to praise Dayton Moore, but to bury him.

jaywrong
Member
jaywrong
5 years 5 months ago

trust the process ™

hunterfan
Guest
hunterfan
5 years 5 months ago

This really shouldn’t be suprising, given what we know about an infinite supply of monkeys, typewriters, and time being able to reproduce the works of Shakespeare.

Eventually Dayton Moore was bound to bumble on a decision that Dave could approve of.

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 5 months ago

Oh, when I began reading the talk of monkeys and typewriters, I was thinking the reference was to DC.

I suppose monkeys with millions of dollars to spend might also someday land a quality free agent pitcher, but I doubt this is the instance.

Joe R
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

To be fair, the process has resulted in a loaded farm system, and while I’m more skeptical of what Francis has left than Dave obviously is, GMDM is obviously doing SOMETHING right.

hunterfan
Guest
hunterfan
5 years 5 months ago

Something stood out to me in your article Dave. You mentioned that team officials have mentioned a deteroration of “stuff” from Francis, and that has hurt his value.

In rebuttal, you cite his fastball velocity, and stop there.

Declining stuff often means more than just fastball velocity. Is he not locating as well? Having trouble with his release point? Are his breaking balls not snapping off as much anymore? Etc?

In other words, do you think team officials are being out and out stupid and think a guy’s stuff is declining based upon 1mph fastball drop (or other easily disproved anecdotal evidence) or do you think maybe they have scouts that are indicating the situation is far more complex than you are describing?

There’s a possibility that every team except the Royals is dumb and Dayton Moore just made the score of the winter. There’s another possibility, though, isn’t there? And that’s that the scouts are seeing something else that concerns them with his stuff, unrelated to his fastball velocity.

Is there any reason I should think the former is far more likely than the latter?

Griggs
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Griggs
5 years 5 months ago

>>Declining stuff often means more than just fastball velocity. Is he not locating as well? Having trouble with his release point? Are his breaking balls not snapping off as much anymore? Etc?<<

Francis is all about location, velocity never mattered. He would use his junk to paint the outside and then catch the batter off guard with fastballs in and up. He is (or was) a rare type of pitcher these days just using his ability to spot all his pitches and outsmarting the hitters. I loved to watch him pitch and I hope he comesback but I think it is a longshot.

Bud Selig
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Bud Selig
5 years 5 months ago

I think with Francis the concern is that he’s the next Mark Mulder. If I am not mistaken, Francis and Mulder have similar mechanics.

I decided to look and see where I had seen the analysis, and I found it. Of course, It’s Chris O’Leary’s site.

http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Pitching/ThePitchingMechanic/2009/ThePitchingMechanic_200902.html#Is_Jeff_Francis_the_Next_Mark_Mulder

But, for 2M he’s likely worth the risk … as compared to say, giving Sheets 10M.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 5 months ago

Still didn’t change the username back from when I was trying to be a funny guy.

tbr
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tbr
5 years 5 months ago

It sounds like it didn’t hurt the Royals that Francis was attracted to the idea of reuniting with his former Colorado minor league pitching coach Bob McClure, who is now the Royals pitching coach. In any case, kudos; this is a good signing.

West
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West
5 years 5 months ago

Only Dayton Moore can botch the convoy of allstars coming through the system.

JH
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JH
5 years 5 months ago

I’m as big a GMDM hater as any, but in fairness, he seems to be learning. I’m not a huge fan of the Greinke trade, but this really ahsn’t been a terrible offseason for him. Sure, he gave guaranteed money to Jeff Francoeur, but he hasn’t signed any mediocre veterans to 8-figure, multi-year contracts, and he’s managed to avoid giving millions of dollars to mediocre relievers and replacement level position players. Baby steps.

Scott
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Scott
5 years 5 months ago

Yet…Manny is still on the FA wires as of now.

Doug Lampert
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Doug Lampert
5 years 5 months ago

That’s possible, maybe even likely, but how did those future allstars get into the system?

Did the Baseball Player Fairy bring them, or did Moore and the front office he’s been running draft and develop them or trade for them?

I’m not going to claim that the man is a good GM, but he was supposedly a good scout, and the things that are right with the Royals are exactly what I’d expect from very good scouting for 5 years or so.

john
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

shoulder surgeries also seem to have a less probable recovery than elbow surgeries (i’m basing this off of memory and not data). something to at least take into account and could be another reason for bias in thinking his stuff went to poop.

TheBigOne
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TheBigOne
5 years 5 months ago

exactly. at least with regards to tommy john, shoulder surgeries seem to produce a much wider range of outcomes. how many guys in the last 5 years have had TJ and not been the same after? Some, sure, but not a whole lot.

steve
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steve
5 years 5 months ago

Just to discuss one of the 3 issues you mentioned….

It’s overly simplistic to lump all arm injuries together. I don’t know all the details of Francis’ shoulder surgery, but in general shoulder injuries are more difficult to repair (and come back from) than elbow injuries. Tommy John surgery has a good track record, but many other injuries, especially shoulder, do not.

For all you know, many teams had doctors look at the specifics of this case and recommended staying away. It’s entirely possible that instead of Moore making a savvy decision, he is wasting 2M.

Not to say the deal can’t work out, but I think you glossed over the shoulder issue and lumped Francis into the category of “fixed arm injuries”. This is an incredibly diverse group that includes the workhorses you mentioned along with plenty of burnouts who never regained past success.

chuckb
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chuckb
5 years 5 months ago

I agree. It’s my understanding that shoulder injuries fall into a different class of arm injury than elbow or wrist or other arm injuries do. Just ask Mark Mulder. Brandon Webb will also be a good test case this year but there’s a very high likelihood that neither Webb nor Francis will ever be a significant contributor on the mound again.

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 5 months ago

I agree with small “s” steve. Perhaps its true that all great steves think alike. I don’t know if Francis’ shoulder injury was a torn labrum (which it is true is no longer the death knell it once was, but it still has a low recovery rate. Modern surgery techniques have improved to the point where the shoulder can work again, but can it do what it once did for a MLB pitcher? Still a very low retrun rate and should not be lumped in with any other type of injury. The article should only have compared Francis with other pitchers who suffered the same injury.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 5 months ago

While the FB is better, it’s nowhere near good enough to throw 61% of the time in the AL. The rest of his stuff strikes me as unlikely to play well in the AL, the super slow curve and the change, with no slider. He stopped throwing he slider in 2007, and I don’t think he can compete in the AL without it.

Take a look at Bruce Chen’s pitches from last season. They had him throwing fewer FB’s and a lot more sliders. His stuff and Francis’s is almost identical. Francis is this year’s Chen, which is worth $2m, especially in the context of their atrocious rotation options. I’ll be looking for the nugget from Dayton about Francis agreeing to start throwing the slider again.

jaywrong
Member
jaywrong
5 years 5 months ago

chen didn’t really light it up in the nl.

and really, i doubt that a nl super slow curve and change is that much different from an al super slow curve and change. unless you have evidence.

greg
Guest
greg
5 years 5 months ago

He never threw a slider, at least not in his ML career. I’m sure BIS just screwed up some pitchtypes.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 5 months ago

This is from BA’s Rockies Top 10 for 2005:

“Strengths: Francis is a power pitcher without power, along the lines of Sid Fernandez. He possesses pinpoint command of his 86-91 mph fastball and creates a deceptive look for hitters, in part because of the extension he gets in his delivery. He also has the best changeup in the system, and his slider is a solid third pitch.”

The curveball was not even mentioned, even as a “weakness” (they used to format these reports differently). Are we to believe that he scrapped the slider prior to his rookie campaign for a pitch he did not throw, and succeeded doing so while pitching in Colorado? There are many reports out there on the interweb noting that he throws a slider, or used to throw a slider, this is the one that looks most credible to me. Thanks for the scouting report, though.

BlackOps
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BlackOps
5 years 5 months ago

Yeah, this is dumb. The difference between leagues isn’t large enough to say that without a certain pitch an effective pitcher in the NL won’t work in the AL.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 5 months ago

Except that he’s a marginal pitcher in the NL, with a still-weak FB. Where are the bomb-throwers coming from?

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
5 years 5 months ago

Some people already nailed what I was going to point out and that is your comparison of Francis’ SHOULDER injury to pitchers like Hudson, Johnson and Wilson who had ELBOW injuries. Shoulder injuries have shown in the recent past that they are much riskier than elbow surgeries. Mark Mulder, Chien Ming Wang, Erik Bedard, Dustin McGowan, Mark Prior & Brandon Webb all have had shoulder issues in the recent past and not one guy on that list has done anything in baseball for 2+ years now…

The rest of this article was spot on though. And maybe with a pitcher who doesn’t rely on a blazing (or crazy-sinking) fastball shoulder injuries are easier to overcome. Either way, you’re absolutely right $2Mil guaranteed is definately worth the risk (especially when you consider he may be the defacto Ace of the staff if he stays healthy)…

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 5 months ago

Unless the plan is to flip him at the trade deadline, how is this a good signing? This is going to improve a last (or near last) place team by 1 or 2 wins and is only a 1 year deal – so if he does pitch really well, it won’t be of much value to the Royals as they’ll have to try and re-sign him next year at higher dollar amount.

The risk/reward thing makes sense if the reward gives you a shot at competing (or enables future years). Barring a deadline deal what is the reward for the Royals? (A comp pick… if they want to risk offering arbitration). I understand the need to look at everything through a value and cost per WAR prism these days – but in the grand scheme of things how is this the best signing?

And as many have mentioned to compare pitchers with elbow injuries to shoulder injuries (in terms of confidence of a rebound) is absurd.

BillWallace
Guest
BillWallace
5 years 5 months ago

Because just because you’re rebuilding and not in playoff contention doesn’t mean you should throw a 50 win team out there every season. There’s still a good reason to spend the fans’ ticket money to give them a reasonable team to watch. If a team can get 2 wins for $4mill they should do it always, no matter where they are on the win curve.

chel
Guest
chel
5 years 5 months ago

I’m 100% with you, team have to remember they exist because of the fans

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 5 months ago

they can still flip him at the trade deadline to a team in need of pitching… like the yankees. and, as you know, the yankees love to overspend… especially in moments of desperation.

EP
Guest
EP
5 years 5 months ago

Phoenix2042..was that an exact quote from Rafael Soriano by chance?

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 5 months ago

Completely disagree…. and somehow you are taking my saying don’t bother signing him with the Royals not spending the money elsewhere….Where you are on the win curve matters…. Francis is not drawing fans in and he’s not the difference between a successful and unsuccessful team that builds or depresses a fanbase. (If he has great value why not do a 2 year deal, or something that vests? or a club option?)

If I were a Royal fan I’d rather them take that 2 mil and use it toward going overslot in this very good draft (beyond whatever they have already budgeted) rather than merely burn it on a 1 year deal. Or go after an international amateur free agent. Or apply it 2012…. 2 extra wins does nothing to this fan base; it;s a 1 year lipstick on a pig move. If this were more than a 1 year deal or had some sort of vesting option (or club option) then you could talk about BEST SIGNING of the offseason…. otherwise this seems like typical hyperbole of folks viewing players in a vacuum.

Again if they can flip him at the deadline (and this may be the plan which is why I qualified my comment above) this could turn into a great signing, otherwise this is merely a nice signing which will be forgotten come 2012.

George Purcell
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George Purcell
5 years 5 months ago

someone’s got to take the ball 162 times this year. Better Francis than bringing up one of the kids early.

robert
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robert
5 years 5 months ago

um, the plan is to flip him at the trade deadline. that’s the plan…

KS
Guest
KS
5 years 5 months ago

As usual, a very interesting analysis. However, allow me to be picky (again) and question one of your assumptions, or what seems to be an assumption.

“Francis’ combined 2008 and 2010 performance give him a 5.01 ERA, but only a 4.29 xFIP. The difference is, as always, BABIP and HR/FB rate.”

Not sure what you’re comparing to find that difference, but if you compare his performance in 2010 to 2007, his last complete and arguably best season, his BABIP and HR/FB are virtually identical. And his BB rate was even lower in 2010. The only significant difference I could find (other than IP) is his K/9 rate, which was 6.90 vs. 5.78. Meaning, in 2007 he was striking out fully 20% more batters than he managed in 2010.

Something was significantly different for Francis, and it resulted in him striking out a lot more guys before the surgery. Obviously, you can’t ascribe that to lousy team defense.

Maybe his stuff was more hittable in 2010. So maybe those old-school “believe your eyes” curmudgeons actually know something.

To your main point, on the other hand, his underlying 2010 numbers are pretty close to his career averages. Which just tells me that he’s unlikely to repeat his career year of 2007, but could remain a serviceable league-average-ish pitcher for at least a few more years… IF he stays healthy.

But is a league average SP with a recent history of shoulder surgery and a 1.5 season layoff really worth more than $2-4 M? At least until he proves he can perform consistently? This may prove to be a very good deal for KC, but the best FA signing of the winter? Seems like a reasonable risk-reward proposition to me.

enemyoftheworld
Guest
enemyoftheworld
5 years 5 months ago

“This may prove to be a very good deal for KC, but the best FA signing of the winter? Seems like a reasonable risk-reward proposition to me.”

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Very good comment. And, while the risk is not that high, the potential reward is not ridiculously high either. The Royals could very well end up with a modest surplus value in the deal, but I don’t think Dayton Moore comes out of the other side looking like a genius.

This is a reasonable signing, maybe even a good one. Not the best of the offseason.

Nadingo
Guest
Nadingo
5 years 5 months ago

Only partial credit for this comment: Good catch that the BABIP and HR/FB were the same in 2007 and 2010, but you really didn’t notice the huge difference in LOB%? 74.7% in 2007 vs. 64.5% in 2010 — over 10% more of the hitters that reached base against Francis in 2010 came around to score on him, due to mostly non-repeatable factors.

Also, I wouldn’t look at lower K-rates and BB-rates in 2010 and conclude that his stuff was “more hittable.” His K/BB was higher in 2010, so it looks more like his control improved or he focused more on pounding the strike zone.

Misfit
Member
Misfit
5 years 5 months ago

In comparison with his ’07 year, his contact rates are all higher against him while his strike % is lower. This makes me wonder if his low walk totals had more to do with giving into hitters thant actually having better command. His pitch type values show that his change-up got batterred around last year when in year’s past it was easily his most effective pitch. Perhaps looking at pitch fx to determine how he set-up his change-up someone would be able to better diagnose his problems. I’d be curious to know if he tries to sneak change-ups past hitters when behind in the count and maybe that strategy was not effective.

Either way, I find it hard to believe he could lose whatever made his change-up so effective without seeing much change in the velocity. It looks like his issues are strictly mechanical in nature which makes taking a $2 million flyer on him a worthwhile gamble, so long as the medical report checks out. My only concern would be if he had to change his pitching motion out of necessity because of his past shoulder injury as that could certainly explain a decrease in effectiveness of his change-up.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 5 months ago

I still believe Cliff Lee was a better signing.

Ricky
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Ricky
5 years 5 months ago

I’m happy for Cliff lee, and Imma let you finish, but Kanye West signing a new record deal was the best signing of ALL TIME.

K
Guest
K
5 years 5 months ago

for the money I’ll take Pat Burrell

Zac
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Zac
5 years 5 months ago

Seeing both of them pitch more than I’d like to admit, I always thought Francis was exactly the same pitcher as Kyle Davies, except from the other side. Unimpressive fastball that doesn’t cut, and when that isn’t getting thrown for strikes or getting hit, it’s the “change up” that isn’t surprising anybody. Other than that, typical January post filling a requirement since none of this is relevant outside of KC fans rosterbating for ’13. or ’15.

George Purcell
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George Purcell
5 years 5 months ago

Kyle Davies = 2.0 WAR

Jaf
Guest
Jaf
5 years 5 months ago

Agreed on all counts, Dave… I thought the same thing and am amazed that KC’s GM appears to be the only one who was willing to step up. How Texas and especially the Yankees didn’t is beyond me. Presumably they see something with their superior information that us mere fans looking only at stats are missing. But if not, the Yankees are going to look like horse’s asses for passing.

The Yankees have the potential to look especially dumb if (1) (as I think is very likely) Jeter continues to show his age, (2) (as I think is more likely than not) Mariano’s awful September is a precursor for his beginning to show his age in 2011 (or 2012 at the latest), and/or (3) (as I also think is likely) Soriano’s (a) awful postseason, (b) historically awful August and September (during which his ERA was up near 3.8 from 2008-10), and his severe deterioration in strikeouts from 12.1 per nine innings in 2009 to 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010 (which preceded his lost year of 2008) prove to be a precursor of things to come.

It will be very interesting to see whether it was a case of the Yankees’ superior info and resources allowing them to see past the obvious or a case of (more) amazing stupidity (a la Alex Rodriguez’s albatross contract). Obviously, I’m suspecting that it’s the latter. But only time will tell.

In any case, kudos to you, again, Dave, for an excellent article.

Tigerdog
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Tigerdog
5 years 5 months ago

I just want to go on record saying that Jeff Francis was not and will not be a good major league pitcher. The only light in which he looks presentable is by comparison with the weak cast of starting pitchers left on the free agent market once Cliff Lee signed with Philly. My money says he’s in for a shelling. Bruce Chen redux, and that’s not good. A bad pitcher doesn’t qualify as the “best bargain”, sorry. That’s my .02.

DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen
5 years 5 months ago

You are factually wrong. Francis was at one point a very good player.

Tigerdog
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Tigerdog
5 years 5 months ago

Factually speaking, that is purely a matter of opinion.

Bill
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Bill
5 years 5 months ago

He was worth 4 wins in 2007. Very good is a stretch, but he was certainly good. Just do a search of the number of four win pitchers last year and you will see how good that is. That isn’t an opinion. It’s an objective measure of reality.

Alex
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Alex
5 years 5 months ago

There are maybe 8 – 10 teams that are forward-thinking enough to look completely past ERA and a marginal velo drop. Ask yourself why they didn’t sign Francis.

Dave is really glossing over the issues associated with labrum surgery here. It is nonsensical to compare him to guys with TJ surgery like Hudson.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 5 months ago

his velocity didnt drop, its higher…

maqman
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maqman
5 years 5 months ago

Bedard can potentially be a better deal, Francis is still a maybe.

Tigerdog
Guest
Tigerdog
5 years 5 months ago

Among the buy low/ high reward types, I like the Bedard deal best. A non guaranteed contract that could approach 7MM, but the upside is huge. Penny could be a good deal, and I like that better than Francis also.

Ender
Guest
Ender
5 years 5 months ago

Lets be real here, KC isn’t playing for anything so any money they spend on a one year deal is a waste unless the player ends up being traded mid season or ends up at least a type B FA. Given the fact Francis is coming off of surgery and is the type of pitcher who allows a lot of balls in play I doubt that playing with a defense like KC has is going to make him look like a valuable trade chip or end up being a type B FA.

As for BABIP and HR/FB%. Both of these stats are generally higher for groundball pitchers so his should be expected to be higher than normal. I’m really not thinking his career rates for these are going to suddenly change. I would think any change in ERA from getting out of Coors would easily be countered by facing a DH. They are most likely getting a 4.75-5.00 ERA pitcher here when you take the defense into account.

MoCrash
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MoCrash
5 years 5 months ago

You’re looking at this the wrong way, my friend. If healthy, Francis will eat up innings this year and will be a transitional part of the rotation until the young arms mature. He’s a solid pro who will at least be a leader by example, showing the kids how major leaguers do things (McClure knows him well, obviously, and doubtless would have forewarned of trouble). Francis’ numbers are better than the $2-4 million range for 180 IP (if that’s what the Royals get from him).

The Royals are still way under their eventual payroll expectations, but there’s no sense in spending the money now before the kids arrive. This isn’t the time to invest in another Meche, but taking a $2 mil flyer on Francis is beyond reasonable — it’s a flat-out bargain — in today’s market.

If Francis is gone at the trade deadline, it will probably mean a pretty good haul of prospects for the Royals — small-market, small-budget teams have to keep feeding their farm systems — and if performs well enough he could be worth re-signing or maybe even be a Type A or B compensation in free agency.

MoCrash
Guest
MoCrash
5 years 5 months ago

On other note: you refer to the “defense like KC has.” Maybe that should be “had.” Escobar is a huge defensive upgrade at SS over Betancourt and Cain may be the best defensive CF the Royals have had since Beltran. Whether any will have much impact on the offensive side is a question, but the Royals made significant strides in their up-the-middle D.

Keith-in-Law
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Keith-in-Law
5 years 5 months ago

They’re still the horseshit Royals, people.

Fitz
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Fitz
5 years 5 months ago

Who just happens to have the top farm system currently in baseball. “Are” is not what “will be”…

merizobeach
Guest
merizobeach
5 years 5 months ago

Fewer of us will agree and fewer of us will be correct when we discuss what “will be” rather than what currently “is”.

In other words, I don’t grant your premise that Royals will ever amount to more than horseshit and a contraction candidate.

John
Guest
John
5 years 5 months ago

I’m having trouble understanding the vast discrepancy between his ERA and xFIP. I understand BABIP (.322) is complicit, but his HR/FB rate was league average. Is it chalked up to the fact that a pitcher with his peripherals AND a league average HR/FB “should” have a 3.94 ERA pitcher?

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 5 months ago

I’m guessing there is a very healthy park adjustment in xFIP at Coors for guys with only decent peripherals and near league average balls in play numbers. Hammel was similar, and so was de la Rosa to a lesser extent.

Sal
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Sal
5 years 5 months ago

The Mets (aka the Padres of the East) really blew this one. They are crushing on Chris Young way too hard.

joeyO
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joeyO
5 years 5 months ago

Dave,

In he shock of Moore making a non-idiotic move, I think you got a little eager. Realistically, KC’s Defense isnt going to be that impressive either (especially if they are running Butler/Melky/Francoeur out there in the outfield on most days) and Francis doesnt miss enough to make up for that. So just expecting a huge drop in BAbip is a fair leap, and would only give serviceable results if it happened.

But even outside that, at best you are looking at him pitching 150+ innings or respectable innings – but that would mean meeting the incentives and making 4 million. 4 million for a reclamation who happened to turn serviceable is basically the going rate, so this wouldnt be really be a win. On the downside though, you are paying 2 million for next to no innings or 2+ million for poor results. This too wouldnt be a complete loss, but would be worthless.

So you have a scale of Going-Rate to Worthless – how is that ever in consideration for the best signing of the offseason? I mean, yesterdays other move of Thome at 3 million from Minnesota seems to completely blow this one out of the water with him coming off that .283/.412/.627/1.039 line in every-other day (and key PH opportunities) service for them last season.

While Francis isnt a horrible move, its not exactly that good either – its basically a “muh” kind of deal. And while I will admit that does mean one of the better moves Moore has made, it doesnt equate to best deal of the offseason by any means. I think the shock just got the best of you.

filthyrich
Guest
filthyrich
5 years 5 months ago

Francis was turning into quite the horse before his surgery. I think the Rockies rushed him back too fast after his initial DL trip, and that is what led to him falling apart.

Francis went on the DL last year with tired shoulder, and the Rockies rushed him back again. Getting out of Colorado is huge for Francis, but only if the Royals are smart with him. Francis used to be a lefty killer, and I would think that he will have that back after shaking the rust, so KC should start him out as long man out of the pen, with a 20 inning max for April. Maximize his appearances versus lefthanded batters. Then shift him to the rotation once he has established a nice groove. If Francis is pushed hard early, I could see him being a wasted investment for the Royals.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 5 months ago

Pitching mechanics that put a ton of stress on the shoulder is like a grenade at your feet. You don;t know if it’s going to go off in 1 second, or 2 … but it’s going to go off, and it’s probably not going to take long.

After a shoulder injury, the time for the next “complication”, with the same emchanics, is shortened even more.

Injury prediction and pitchers is a tough deal.

In short, the Royals could manage him perfectly, and his shoulder could still get injured.

IMO, at the major league level, if you sign a pitcher to be a starter for you and regular in your rotation … you pitch him as such. If he or his body cannot handle it, then you go from there. But, using him in a way that you did not intend is no guarentee that he’ll remain healthy.

Pitching more frequently could be just as bad as logging more innings, for all we know about his shoulder condition.

I have never had to come back from an injury, so I have no idea how that process goes. My bet is that in many cases, the pitcher is his own worst enemy … always trying to get back sooner than he should, and perhaps not always being honest about how he feels.

Once an athlete suffers an injury, they do seem to start wondering about being replaced or losing their spot. The longer they stay out, the stronger that feeling probably gets, and well, the more realistic the scenario of their value plummetting becomes.

There’s no guarantee Francis makes it out of spriong training, let alone pitches to the ASB, and even lower that he throws a full season … almost regardless of role.

If there was a “management formula” that was shown to be very effective for pitchers returning from major injury, teams would be using it … just as an educational strategy that worked for every student.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 5 months ago

Earlier I posted mechanical analysis of Mulder and Francis, and they had many similarities.

Here’s Mulder’s injury history after his 1st full season with the Cardinals (from an article on this site).

“- Left shoulder impingement (6/06)
– Left shoulder surgery (8/06)
– Left shoulder surgery recovery (07)
– Left rotator surgery recovery (3/08)
– Left shoulder strain (7/08)”

Here are his IP numbers per year (counting MiLB and MLB)

2006: 106.1
2007: 25.1
2008: 36.0

I wish JF the best, but shoulder injuries are the devil.

jimboelrod
Guest
jimboelrod
5 years 5 months ago

Another aspect of Jeff Francis is that he is a great teammate. He is well thought by everyone in the Rockies organization and loved by their fans. He will be sorely missed in Denver. I wish him a successful recovery and a great 2011 with KC and a return to Denver for 2012!

Luke
Guest
Luke
5 years 5 months ago

Studies say elbow reconstruction offers more hope than shoulder surgery
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=5571173

“For pitchers facing shoulder surgery however, what waits on the other side is far less certain. Only 35 percent to 50 percent of throwing athletes return to their previous level of performance following shoulder surgery. One study presented at the 2008 American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Specialty Day Meeting indicated that of 12 players at the high professional level (major league baseball, Triple-A and Double-A) who underwent shoulder surgery, only one made it back to that high level of play.”

Schniks
Guest
Schniks
5 years 5 months ago

Forget the Jeff Francis signing – how about praising Dayton Moore for building an incredible farm system?

Jim
Guest
Jim
5 years 5 months ago

Oh man, CircleChange is one of these pitching mechanics losers? That explains a lot.

MrKnowNothing
Member
MrKnowNothing
5 years 5 months ago

He can defend himself, but of all the posters I’ve come to recognize on FG, I think he shows more intelligence and open mindedness than most.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 5 months ago

In this case, I just don’t understand the reference to pitching mechanics … since we’re discussing a pitcher coming back from a shoulder injury.

I have some interst and knowledge of mechanics because I coach picthers in high school and junior high, and pitched in college.

As a lefty myself, I was very interested in Mulder’s career and the end of it. I remembered that Francis was similar to Mulder.

I knew that someone had analyzed Mulder and Francis, and linked to it. FWIW, O’Leary is the guy that worked with Andres Torres and helped turn him into a decent ML hitter from a slap-hitting MiLB type. I just get disappointed when guys like Torres and Zobrist have to go outside of their organization to get the instruction they need.

I understand the opposition to paralysis by analysis in rgards to mechanics, but not when it is seemingly highly relevant to a specific situation.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 5 months ago

In terms of Jeff Francis’s situation, the mechanics do explain a lot.

As for your response, just another pussified comment on the internet. A dime a dozen.

Jim
Guest
Jim
5 years 5 months ago

You’re right, I wouldn’t say it to your face cause what, you’re gonna beat me up? Jesus, grow up.

Brad Johnson
Guest
Brad Johnson
5 years 5 months ago

It’s a fine signing but I have a hard time swallowing it as the immediate best deal of the offseason. The most obvious strike against that claim in my eyes is that Francis’ performance is largely irrelevant to the Royals.

camisadelgolf
Guest
camisadelgolf
5 years 5 months ago

That’s way too many words to praise Saddam Hussein, let alone Dayton Moore.

Ben Hall
Member
Member
Ben Hall
5 years 3 months ago

Does anyone have any insight as to why Francis went from being a high strikeout (career 10 K/9 in the minors) pitcher in the minors to a average to below average strikeout pitcher in the majors? Is it lost velocity?

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