COMMENTARY | The San Francisco Giants' outfield is in shambles. Jeff Francoeur was recently designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals. Seems like the two were destined to be together, doesn't it?
Today, that destiny was fulfilled as the Giants signed Francoeur to a minor league deal. He'll report to Triple-A Fresno but likely won't stay there long, as he figures to be the right handed portion of a platoon with Andres Torres.
To put it mildly, Francoeur was having a nightmare season with the Royals. In 59 games, he put up a line of .208/.249/.322 with 3 home runs, 13 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases. He also struck out 49 times in 183 ABs while walking just 8 times. He's coming off of another nightmare season in 2011 when he managed to hit .235/.287/.378. It's fair to question if he has anything left to contribute.
But for the Giants, there's no harm in finding out what he has left in the tank. With the Royals picking up the majority of his salary, the Giants will pay next to nothing for Francoeur. If he can provide any kind of offense, he'll be an upgrade over the parade of minor league outfielders the Giants have been trotting out in left field over the past few weeks. He's two years removed from a 20 home run season and managed to hit 16 last year, so he does have power. And he's known for having a cannon arm in the outfield.
The move is somewhat reminiscent of when the Giants signed Pat Burrell off of the scrap heap in 2010. Burrell joined the team and became both a force in the middle of the lineup and in the clubhouse, sparking the Giants to their first World Series championship since moving west. The Giants will be happy if Francoeur can replicate even half of Burrell's production...actually, they'd probably be happy with even a fourth of Burrell's production given the team's offensive troubles. Francoeur doesn't come with the pedigree of Burrell, though. There's much less certainty that Francoeur will provide any kind of spark to a struggling team.
The Giants are in desperate need of offense, and Francoeur was a no-cost, no-risk option who may find something left in the tank to help their battered lineup. Or, he might hit like he did in Kansas City and find himself back in the free agent pool by the end of July. It seems like the latter of those two options is more likely, but stranger things have happened in baseball.
But for the time being, Francoeur can't be much worse than Cole Gillespie or Andres Torres. He might even prove to be slightly better. And right now, the Giants would kill for "slightly better" when it comes to their offense.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. Follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jeff Francoeur
- San Francisco Giants
- Kansas City Royals
- Andres Torres