Opinion: Now Batting, No. 12, Jeff Francoeur

Jeff Francoeur will wear No. 12, hit fifth in the lineup and start in right field for the Mets tonight, while Ryan Church is expected to start tonight for the Braves as well.

I am still unsure of what to think of this deal, and I suppose I won’t really know until the end of the season, which is probably the point.  I don’t see this is a bad trade, I just think it’s a trade, a bizarre swap that could go either way: The Braves grew tired of Francoeur, the Mets lost faith in Church, and so the two rivals swapped situations and are hoping to get lucky.

Granted, it was one scout I talked with last night, but he essentially laughed at Omar Minaya’s statement from before yesterday’s game, when he said of Francoeur, “Some people think he’s the best defensive right fielder in baseball.”

Also, I know two Braves fans, and both told me Francoeur is overrated on defense, though he has a tremendous arm… literally.

The scout also told me Francoeur’s biggest problem at the plate is he is a free swinger, who has showed zero signs of growth in five major-league seasons.

The crazy thing is, despite his struggles this season, Francoeur is now third on the Mets in home runs, and third on the team in RBI, which says more about the Mets than anything else.

Church, on the other hand, seemed to have reached his peak, though I still believe he could hit .280 with a slightly better OBP, have around 20 HR and roughly 80 RBI, while playing an above-average defense, if allowed to play every day.  That said, this was obviously not going to happen in New York, and perhaps Minaya believes Francoeur is capable of delivering more power, while batting from the right side.

According to SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt, Francoeur said by phone that he is fired up to play in New York City.  That’s good, because New York will likely either inspire Francoeur, and get him back to the player he once was, or it we will eat him alive, and be the final nail in his coffin.