Flushing, NY – Omar Minaya needed to do something. His team is collapsing and sitting around while waiting for “the core” to return is the baseball equivalent of Nero fiddling as Rome burned.
So yesterday’s swap of Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur was just that…something. It may not be a season changer for the Mets, but it does give Minaya’s team a new player, who may inject some life into the club.
“I know [Francoeur] a little bit – he’s a great guy, a talented guy,” outfielder Gary Sheffield said after the Mets were shutout, 3-0 by the Cincinnati Reds. “He’s a great outfielder and a great teammate. Any time you trade 1-for-1, who knows, it might spark the club.”
Sure it might, but the other 24 Mets will have to take cue from their new right fielder. Although Francoeur plays very hard every night and is a gold glover in the field, the rest of the Mets will have to take cue from his gritty play for this trade to be considered a success. Right now, there’s a malaise over Citi Field; almost an acceptance of losing because of all the injuries. This “woe is me” attitude has dropped the Mets to 6 ½ behind the Phillies, with the team losing 11 of 14 games.
Now they get some help with Francoeur. Make no mistake though, he is hardly a savior. Sure he is young enough at 25, but since the beginning of the 2008 season, he transformed from burgeoning superstar to average major leaguer – or to put it better, he was the righthanded version of Church, a nice player but you know there’s more talent there than production.
“We’ve got to keep on trying to do these types of things,” Minaya said. “We are working, it’s not that we’re not, there a couple of things we are talking to other clubs about, they may be big, they may be minor, but we’ve got to continue to try to do things to shake it up a little bit, and not just be complacent.”
Here’s Minaya’s problem: The Mets do not have the type of chips to get in on the big name, impact type of player like Roy Halladay, so he has to try these types of lateral moves and hope a change of scenery will do the Mets well. Francoeur is that type of player, who went from golden boy to whipping boy in Atlanta over the past year. Now with a fresh slate, the young outfielder could find new life in Queens, especially if the “core” does come back over the next month.
Then Francoeur becomes a complimentary player for the Mets, which is the role he is better suited for. And if the righthanded bat can find his old stroke, this becomes an excellent trade for the Mets. Even if he doesn’t, all the Mets lost was Church, who wasn’t so great anyway.
Church, at 30, is never going to be more than he actually is now. He will hit .270 with 10-15 homers and drive in 70-80 runs. He will also struggle against lefties and can’t stay healthy. From the concussions last year – botched by the Mets or not – to falling into Jerry Manuel’s doghouse this season, Church never fit into the Mets plans and like Francoeur could benefit from the change of scenery.
Thus, this trade comes down the pike with the Mets at least more interesting today than yesterday. Sure Francoeur could be disaster, and Church could finally become an All-Star in Atlanta, but even if that happens, so what? Making this deal is better than watching the Mets burn.