Excuse Me?

I’m sorry, I know I’m supposed to be taking a break, but I can’t let this pass.

Mark Bradley has finally realized that Jeff Francoeur isn’t going to be a star, and that he has some serious flaws in his game.

It’s time to trade Frenchy.

What could the Braves get for him? Probably not all that much, but that’s not really the point . They’d be better off without him, and he without them.

Way to get in on this early, Mark. What’s next? A scathing critique of foul language and sexism in rap music. If the Atlanta media, which includes Bradley, had had the balls to call out the Braves in 2006, maybe he could have been sent down to the minors to get some work. It’s only been a year since Bradley blasted fans for turning on Golden Boy with a stern lecture.

He’s struggling now, but the belief here, as it would be with any big-leaguer, is that he’ll eventually rise to his established level.

It’s understandable fans would be anxious, especially at a time when the entire team is listing. What’s curious is how quickly we Atlantans seem to turn on the guy from Gwinnett. Has almost a decade of his derring-do, first at Parkview and now as a Brave, bred such contempt? Have we tired of the famous Frenchy? Have we forgotten that, for all his notoriety, he’s only 24?

If that’s the case, then I don’t feel sorry for Jeff Francoeur. I feel sorry for us.

Pretty bold words. Apparently, 2 1/2 years of below-average corner outfield play wasn’t a large enough sample, but 3 1/2 years is. This was my response at the time.

The problem with Francoeur is that the media has been so accepting of the Braves talking points that he is a rising superstar that they haven’t even bothered to notice that Francoeur has always had glaring holes in his game. He was a good high school player? That is no more relevant than the fact that I once hit two home runs in one game for my Little League team. (I still like to bring this up when I can. Yes, they both went over the fence, and I can tell you the names of the pitchers who gave them up: Robbie and John.)

Bradley has the nerve, THE NERVE, to lecture fans on giving Francoeur criticism, which the media neglected to do for three years. In New York, they give grief to players who are far better than Francoeur. Jerry Manuel is making David Wright practice plate discipline, and he has a career OBP of .390. Wright’s slumps are equal to Frenchy’s peaks, but Terry Pendleton just keeps telling Frenchy to “stay aggressive.”

Why didn’t Mark Bradley ask about sending Francoeur to the minors in 2006, when it was clear that he had more to learn? Why didn’t Mark Bradley question Frenchy’s presence in the line-up every day for over two years? I don’t know whether demoting or resting him would have helped, but they were legitimate options that should have been put to the general manager and the manager.

I was thinking this morning as to how easily the Braves could have handled the demotion in 2006. It seemed difficult at the time, but it really wasn’t. David Price was a hero in Tampa Bay, a franchise without any history of stars. Yet, the Rays front office just said, “Hey folks, he’s young. We know he’s done some good stuff up here, but he needs more work.” Some fans were pissed, but the storm didn’t last long.

The problem was that the Braves front office allowed itself to think that his 2005 was exactly what Francoeur was. He was already the star they imagined when he was the Good Face prospect at Parkview: “The Natural.” Baseball professionals shouldn’t allow this to happen. Teenage girls in pink #7 jerseys, yes; but not a GM and his assistants—nor veteran sports columnists.

Maybe Francoeur would be the same player he is, but he should have been sent down in 2006. And if folks like Mark Bradley had been writing with critical pens instead of pompons, maybe this would have happened.


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