By Derek Johannsen
We lost the battle. No one is going to convince Dayton Moore or Ned Yost that Jeff Francoeur is not an everyday outfielder. He is going toÂ play, there is no stopping that. It reminds me of the scene from A Few Good Men where Tom Cruise and Kevin Bacon are arguing in the bar andÂ Cruise yells at Bacon that he is a lousy freaking (thanks TNT) softball player. Baconâ€™s retort is simply that Cruiseâ€™s boys are going down, there isÂ no stopping that now. That sums up how I feel. Heâ€™s going to play, thereâ€™s no stopping itâ€¦ but, what if he only played against lefties?
Francoeurâ€™s splits against lefties are as follows:
2012 vs. LHP
Career vs. LHP
There is no doubt that in 2012 he was terrible against lefties. He was terrible against lefties, righties, off a tee and against that guy who used to throw with both armsÂ depending on the matchup (Greg Harris). It didnâ€™t matter the situation; he was terrible. But, amazingly enough, his careerÂ splits against lefties arenâ€™t that bad. A .289 avg. with an .820 OPS is serviceable (the .820 OPS falls into the Bill James above average category).
So what if Francoeur was only a part timer getting 300 or so AB with the vast majority of them being against lefties. If that were the case then aÂ simple return to his career averages would provide the opportunity to have an average or better RF on a platoon basis.
Which leads to step 2â€¦ find the other half of the platoon.
How about this guy? Weâ€™ll call him Player X. Bats left, throws left. Has one year left on his deal at 4.25 million. Team option for 2014. 32 yearÂ old OF. Here are his splits against righties.
2012 vs. RHP
Career vs. RHP
Thus, in 2012 Player X hit .289 with a .826 OPS against righties and has a career avg. of .292 with an .816 OPS.
Put them together and youâ€™ve got an average to slightly above average RF who, combined, might average around .275-290 with an aboveÂ average OPS of .800-820. Together they are going to cost you 11.75 million in 2013. (Francoeur at 7.5 + Player X at 4.25 = 11.75 million). Is thatÂ a ton to pay for an average to above average RF? Hell yes, but if the 7.5 million in Francoeur is already a sunk cost, you need to invest a littleÂ more to make the platoon split a feasible reality and this is one of the cheapest ways to do it that doesnâ€™t tie up RF for more than 2013.
As a point of reference, the top RF on the market is Nick Swisher. ESPN had him ranked as the No. 10 overall free agent this year. In 2012 heÂ made 10.25 million with the Yankees. He is looking for more money and a bigger deal. The Royals wonâ€™t, and shouldnâ€™t, sign him. However,Â Swisher, who is going to make a lot of money on a long term deal had an .837 OPS in 2012 and has a career OPS of .828. Not exactly leaps and
bounds above our comparable platoon.
So, for a low level prospect and a max payroll increase of 4.25 million, the Royals could put a platoon together in RF that might compareÂ favorably to Nick Swisher. However, in reality player X plays for a team looking for prospects and is flush with cash. They might eat some salaryÂ for a low level prospect or two. And player X is not going to cost the Royals a top prospect. If the Shields move signaled that the Royals are
going for it in 2013 this is a move that has to be considered. It doesnâ€™t have to be for player X, because player Y or Z could be a better optionÂ (you are simply looking for a cheap left handed hitter with above average splits against RHP), but the options are out there to continue to makeÂ the club better.
By the way, player Xâ€¦ David DeJesus.
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